This is not a strategy – it’s a fast track to the dark ages of rail | Simon Jenkins
As transport secretary, Chris Grayling should be investing in the northern axis, not vanity projects like the Oxbridge line
The transport secretary Chris Grayling announced this week that he plans to reopen five, possibly eight, railway lines closed by Richard Beeching, to cut overcrowding and increase capacity. Beeching, who wrote a report back in the 1960s that identified 5,000 miles of railway line for closure, has been dead for a quarter of a century. The lines he closed are reopening all the time, possibly as many as 50 since the 1980s. Nostalgia is a bad way to plan a railway.
Beeching was the most abused man in transport history. In 1963, when rail usage was plummeting and road traffic soaring, he was told by the prime minister Harold Macmillan to “run the railways as a profitable business”. He was already involved in engineering a massive switch of British Rail from steam to diesel. Beecham protested he could hardly make a profit when half of his stations generated just 2% of revenue, and a third of the network carried just 1% of passengers. Profit would have to start with closing that third. Macmillan said go ahead.
Grayling is tipping yet more investment into the south-east, just to give a self-satisfied buzz to the Oxbridge classes
Source: Guardian Transport