Branch Line Britain: Local Passenger Trains in the Diesel Era

Pen & Sword Books Ltd

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This book examines in words and pictures the network of British branch lines and other secondary routes that survived the mass closures of the 1960s.

While nearly 4,000 route miles were lost between 1963 and 1970, the cuts were less severe than they might have been. Some lines were reprieved because of their social importance, even though they would never pay their way in purely commercial terms. They included some lengthy rural routes, such as those serving the Far North of Scotland, Central Wales and the Cumbrian Coast, as well as some urban backwaters such as Romford to Upminster and the St Albans Abbey branch.

As the 1970s progressed, closures became scarce, but cost-cutting measures included the singling of some lines as well as scaled-down stations and simplified signalling. Yet even today, some pockets of traditional operation survive. Mechanical signal boxes still control many hundreds of miles across the network, in areas as diverse as West Cornwall, East Lincolnshire and South West Scotland.

This book also celebrates several reopened and new lines, ranging from the major Borders Railway project in Scotland to the Stansted Airport and Barking Riverside branches in South East England - making the point that the branch line concept is far from dead.