Great Central mainline closure

A0wen

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It’s very similar if you read this thread: the GC vs MML was also an easy one as the MML served far more significant places.

BIB - Not true though, both served Leicester, Nottingham, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Manchester.

The MML served Derby - which the GCR didn't.

South of Leicester - the MML served Market Harborough, Kettering and Wellingborough - all of which were much smaller in the 1960s than today. We'll assume for these purposes that the Bedford - London line would have remained open in the same way Aylesbury - London did.

The GCR of course served Lutterworth and Rugby, the latter probably being more significant than Kettering or Wellingborough in the 1960s.

Going north of Sheffield the MML headed to Leeds - but was always a secondary route when compared to the ECML.

Really not comparable with the GW mainline which from Exeter then served the south Devon coast which is, compared to the SR route over Dartmoor, well populated.
 
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WesternLancer

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The Victoria site is only close to the centre of activity in Nottingham today because of the shopping centre that replaced the station - if it had stayed open it would have been no better than Midland in this respect.
A minor point but this isn't correct AFAIK - the main shopping street in Nottm pre Victoria centre was Parliament Street (co-op dept store at one end, Jessops (aka John Lewis) in the middle, Griffin and Spalding (aka Debenhams) just off it down Market Street, the (new) market down other end of Parliament Street - all to north of Old Market Square. Victoria Station was ideally located for all of this.

It was because of the growth of the retail sector post c1960 in general and the impact of the creation of Victoria Centre as a shopping centre that pulled and re-orientated retail locations in Nottingham such that it appears today that is why they are there - not so on the historic evidence.

Retail down towards Midland Station was rather different, smaller scale and dare I say less 'upmarket' (and large part of the land was an empty space / car park post demolition of the Broadmarsh slums in 1930s until opening of the recently failed shopping centre of that name in the 70s).

So in my view Victoria Station was much better located in the city, FWIW.

Not of course that this is deal breaker in the overall analysis of the GC main line of course!
 
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Bletchleyite

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..that'll be on the grade separated four track WCML, rather than a line where you try to put the non-stop services breathing down the neck of the stoppers?

If the stoppers are only every 30 minutes, you can stick an express out directly in front and not have much of an issue. Plenty of lines like that. Even the CLC is only a problem because of imported delays, mostly from the very long and often delayed Norwich service.
 

RT4038

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BIB - Not true though, both served Leicester, Nottingham, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Manchester.

The MML served Derby - which the GCR didn't.

South of Leicester - the MML served Market Harborough, Kettering and Wellingborough - all of which were much smaller in the 1960s than today. We'll assume for these purposes that the Bedford - London line would have remained open in the same way Aylesbury - London did.

The GCR of course served Lutterworth and Rugby, the latter probably being more significant than Kettering or Wellingborough in the 1960s.

Going north of Sheffield the MML headed to Leeds - but was always a secondary route when compared to the ECML.

Really not comparable with the GW mainline which from Exeter then served the south Devon coast which is, compared to the SR route over Dartmoor, well populated.
In the 1960s I doubt that Rugby was any more significant as a town than Kettering (with Corby) or Wellingborough (with Rushden). Luton and Bedford had far more potential for Northbound traffic to Leicester etc than High Wycombe or Aylesbury.
 

A0wen

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In the 1960s I doubt that Rugby was any more significant as a town than Kettering (with Corby) or Wellingborough (with Rushden). Luton and Bedford had far more potential for Northbound traffic to Leicester etc than High Wycombe or Aylesbury.

Rugby had (and still has) a more significant employer than either Wellingborough or Kettering - it was English Electric then, subsequently GEC and now Alstom. Neither Wellingborough nor Kettering had anything like that.

Luton *may* have had more northbound traffic potential - I doubt Bedford did.
 

RT4038

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The Midland line from Leicester to Rugby, part of the pioneer route from the East Midlands to London which was overtaken as the Midland main line was built on progressively southwards, was a right nuisance at Rugby after the station there was extended in late Victorian times, where it branched off right on the platform ends, with sharp diamond crossings over the Up WCML lines. Becoming ultimately just a country branch for a few stopping trains per day, one can see the 1950s pressure to get rid of it once the closely parallel GC line was part of the same organisation. But it was usefully connected to main line junction stations at both ends, unlike the GC. Some years after it was closed, the GC line was likewise.
By the 1950s I believe there was no connection from the Down through platform at Rugby to the down Leicester line. Using this line for anything important was a non-starter without a complete rebuild of Rugby Station and environs. Even today, with reversible working, it would be an operational headache and source of delay, unless a shuttle service starting at Rugby new Platform 6.
There was no chance of building a spur from Rugby Midland to the north facing GC line.

Rugby had (and still has) a more significant employer than either Wellingborough or Kettering - it was English Electric then, subsequently GEC and now Alstom. Neither Wellingborough nor Kettering had anything like that.

Luton *may* have had more northbound traffic potential - I doubt Bedford did.
The size of the town of Rugby, including hinterland, was little or no bigger than those places. The volume of passenger business towards the East Midlands was very low. Even now, Rugby people do not, as a habit, go to Leicester or Nottingham. Anyway, Rugby was already situated on a main line to London.

All this arguing just because Nottingham Victoria station was slightly better sited than the Midland Station. Quite how interchange would have been had at Leicester or Sheffield or Rugby or even Nottingham, without spending a shedload of money (which BR did not have at that time or since) on spurs and station rebuilding, and still lumbered with Marylebone as a London terminus, I do not know.
 
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markindurham

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Let's not forget the Woodhead part either. If this line had remained open then Manchester to Sheffield journey times would have been much quicker even then compared with now on the Chinley route.
Um, no they wouldn't. Woodhead was a 60mph route, primarily due to its sinuous route. Also, Sheffield Victoria wasn't conveniently located compared to Midland. In addition, there were no real sources of traffic between Penistone & Hadfield - and that's still true today.

There is some truth in that.

Despite BR being a single entity much of the "old" company loyalties remained - and the LMR men were ex-LMS for whom the GCR was the "enemy" - their disdainful attitude to all things from Marylebone continued for many years and it was only when the responsibility for the Marylebone lines was transferred to BR Western Region in the mid 80s did things start to improve. Somebody posted on here previously that the signaling systems were condemned pretty much immediately by BR (W) as unsafe such was the level of neglect that BR (M) had shown.
M'yes, but even Gerry Fiennes - a man who had "LNER" coursing through him, agreed that the GC "London Extension" was the logical route to close, once the cutbacks started.

It's worth remembering that the Beeching report advocated closing the Hope Valley line and keeping Woodhead for Manchester - Sheffield services and Chinley - Matlock for Manchester - Derby services - BR closed both of those and kept the Hope Valley open.
It did - but the Hope Valley route, with the triangular junction at Dore, effectively replaced both the Woodhead and Bakewell lines, so it was not a difficult choice to make, in the end. Bear in mind that even after Beeching, the railways were still in "managed decline", with freight traffic in particular slowly disappearing.
 
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edwin_m

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BIB - Not true though, both served Leicester, Nottingham, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Manchester.

The MML served Derby - which the GCR didn't.

South of Leicester - the MML served Market Harborough, Kettering and Wellingborough - all of which were much smaller in the 1960s than today. We'll assume for these purposes that the Bedford - London line would have remained open in the same way Aylesbury - London did.

The GCR of course served Lutterworth and Rugby, the latter probably being more significant than Kettering or Wellingborough in the 1960s.

Going north of Sheffield the MML headed to Leeds - but was always a secondary route when compared to the ECML.=
I think the key point is that the places the GC served were mostly also served about as well by other routes. Famously the most significant exception was Lutterworth, not exactly a major settlement. Also there weren't many significant point-to-point flows where the GC was the only sensible rail option. Some of both did of course lose the alternative option as well as the GC.

For Leeds, the ECML was the primary London link but the Midland was useful for other Leeds journeys (but that didn't save it in the 1980s). The GC didn't even get as far as Wakefield, though it may have had running powers, so isn't really relevant.
 

Dr Hoo

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According to the Railway and Commercial Gazetteer, in the 1930s Rugby had a smaller population than Kettering even before Corby was considered. Wellingborough was a bit smaller but once Rushden was added it was more significant than Rugby too.

Rugby, of course, had the WCML as well as the GC whereas Kettering, Wellingborough and nearby towns were wholly reliant on the MML (and didn't have the prospect of the shiny new M1 on their doorstep in the 1950s either).
 

NoRoute

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Reading through this GCML thread and then comparing it to some of the HS2 threads makes for a really interesting contrast.

On here there's lot of criticism of the GCML because it didn't pass through and directly serve lots of the major towns and cities along its route, being limited to a trunk route between London and anywhere north of Leicester and bypassing everything in between, making it the inferior route compared to the Midland and so not worth keeping or even considering for re-opening.

Meanwhile on the HS2 threads, there's lots of posters discussing the superiority and necessity of a design with a trunk route which by-passes most of the towns and cities along the route, with it by-passing them being so wonderful because it ensures lots of capacity for fast services unaffected by freight and stopping services. Adding all of that essential capacity, relieving the WCML south of Rugby and the MML. The value of that direct, unimpeded trunk route being easily worth the £50+ Billions which it will cost to build, indeed it appears many posters would build it at any price.

Now granted times are different, in the 1960s it was about reducing the rail network to the bare minimum possible to service the major towns and cities, but I'm surprised there's not more admiration for the GCML which was built during the peak of the railways, when that vision of a direct, London trunk route was very much a valid approach. The GCML wasn't a white elephant by design, it was turned into one by the growth of the motorcar and the lorry. And for all we know, its successor in HS2 could be the same depending on what happens with working from home and video conferencing.
 

WesternLancer

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Reading through this GCML thread and then comparing it to some of the HS2 threads makes for a really interesting contrast.

On here there's lot of criticism of the GCML because it didn't pass through and directly serve lots of the major towns and cities along its route, being limited to a trunk route between London and anywhere north of Leicester and bypassing everything in between, making it the inferior route compared to the Midland and so not worth keeping or even considering for re-opening.

Meanwhile on the HS2 threads, there's lots of posters discussing the superiority and necessity of a design with a trunk route which by-passes most of the towns and cities along the route, with it by-passing them being so wonderful because it ensures lots of capacity for fast services unaffected by freight and stopping services. Adding all of that essential capacity, relieving the WCML south of Rugby and the MML. The value of that direct, unimpeded trunk route being easily worth the £50+ Billions which it will cost to build, indeed it appears many posters would build it at any price.

Now granted times are different, in the 1960s it was about reducing the rail network to the bare minimum possible to service the major towns and cities, but I'm surprised there's not more admiration for the GCML which was built during the peak of the railways, when that vision of a direct, London trunk route was very much a valid approach. The GCML wasn't a white elephant by design, it was turned into one by the growth of the motorcar and the lorry. And for all we know, its successor in HS2 could be the same depending on what happens with working from home and video conferencing.
Thought provoking and well put post!:)
 

Bald Rick

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Reading through this GCML thread and then comparing it to some of the HS2 threads makes for a really interesting contrast.

On here there's lot of criticism of the GCML because it didn't pass through and directly serve lots of the major towns and cities along its route, being limited to a trunk route between London and anywhere north of Leicester and bypassing everything in between, making it the inferior route compared to the Midland and so not worth keeping or even considering for re-opening.

Meanwhile on the HS2 threads, there's lots of posters discussing the superiority and necessity of a design with a trunk route which by-passes most of the towns and cities along the route, with it by-passing them being so wonderful because it ensures lots of capacity for fast services unaffected by freight and stopping services. Adding all of that essential capacity, relieving the WCML south of Rugby and the MML. The value of that direct, unimpeded trunk route being easily worth the £50+ Billions which it will cost to build, indeed it appears many posters would build it at any price.

Now granted times are different, in the 1960s it was about reducing the rail network to the bare minimum possible to service the major towns and cities, but I'm surprised there's not more admiration for the GCML which was built during the peak of the railways, when that vision of a direct, London trunk route was very much a valid approach. The GCML wasn't a white elephant by design, it was turned into one by the growth of the motorcar and the lorry. And for all we know, its successor in HS2 could be the same depending on what happens with working from home and video conferencing.

Sort of.

The GC was a railway like any other, but by the time it was up for closure there was too much Railway capacity where the different ‘parallel’ railways all did the same thing at roughly the same speed. Therefore when taking capacity out it is logical to remove the one that serves the fewest markets, and does so the least effectively.

HS2 is mostly about capacity, on by far the busiest long distance transport corridor in the country, but its speed will make it a very different prospect.
 

Bevan Price

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With the benefit of hindsight, the freight route would have been of value today, and perhaps domestic intermodal terminals could have been located along it instead of the WCML and branches. I'm less sure about the passenger service at the north end, as the Robin Hood Line sort of serves that purpose and could be connected to bits of the GC or other lines revived, if the will and the money was there for better links to the former coalfield. As already mentioned, the Midland was much better connected, mainly because it got there several decades sooner. The Victoria site is only close to the centre of activity in Nottingham today because of the shopping centre that replaced the station - if it had stayed open it would have been no better than Midland in this respect.

As for Leicester-Rugby, a corridor between the East Midlands and Oxford or beyond is something of a missing link. In the modern day this would ideally run via Northampton, MK and Bletchley instead of missing the major population centres as the GC did. At the Leicester end the Midland already connected and the GC could have connected to the Nuneaton line. At Rugby either the GC or the Midland could probably have terminated in their own platforms on the east side of the main station, but both would have been difficult to connect for through passenger services towards Northampton, thence Bletchley and Oxford. The Midland could have been less difficult, because at least it entered Rugby going in the right direction.

To re-use the GC as a high speed main line:

You need to go towards Birmingham so discard the bit north of where it turns eastwards.

The London end has commuter trains getting in the way, and Marylebone is too small to be the London terminus, so discard that bit too and use the GC-GW joint line instead. But there's no room in Paddington either.

You can't run close to homes, so go round or under any built-up areas.

You're left with the section between Brackley and Aylesbury exclusive. South of there it needs to go further west, why not add an interchange at, say, Old Oak Common, and head for Euston where there's a bit more space?
The London Extension was primarily an ego trip for Sir Edward Watkin, whose jobs included chairman of MS&LR (which was renamed GCR), and Metropolitan Railway - which owned from Quainton Road to the approaches to London Marylebone.
 

markindurham

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The London Extension was primarily an ego trip for Sir Edward Watkin, whose jobs included chairman of MS&LR (which was renamed GCR), and Metropolitan Railway - which owned from Quainton Road to the approaches to London Marylebone.
And he was also involved in the first Channel Tunnel scheme - which is why the London Extension's loading gauge was quite generous...
 
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In defence of the GC, the London Extension being a late railway and conceived as a whole, was extremely well laid-out with long sweeping curves and some impressive engineering structures. Mention has been made of the curvature around the island platforms, but the design allowed for straight fast-lines to added on the outside as traffic increased - which sadly never did. Many of the hopeless small intermediate stations had closed anyway by the final run-down - it is surprising that the LNER hadn't closed them earlier in the 1930s as it had ruthlessly done with those on the ECML. If the need had been there, long stretches could have been easily upgraded to 125mph. The link to the GW at Banbury was also useful, and would now be handy for Freightliner traffic avoiding Birmingham.

As for Woodhead, it should be remembered that passenger services ceased in order to facilitate an increase in freight capacity, notable MGRs to Fiddler's Ferry. The new Parkside colliery, just up the road from the power station had disappointing yields, so there was an urgent requirement for more coal to be transported from Yorkshire than originally intended. Retaining the Hope Valley line was not without cost either - significant expenditure was required on the very wet Totley Tunnel with lengthy engineering possessions during that era. The passenger experience between Manchester and Sheffield was significantly downgraded as well, swopping comfortable electrically hauled MK 1s for a thrashing Met Camm DMU.

In an alternative history, if Fiddler's Ferry had never been built (it was a stupid location), then I suspect we would see today as Dr B. intended, with the Woodhead and Bakewell lines open and Hope Valley closed. Woodhead would have been converted to 25 kV AC (as was done with minimum fuss to the Hadfield stump) and a curve built between Victoria and Midland in Sheffield. All the necessary land was in railway ownership at that time (being former pre-grouping goods yards). Ah well.
 

RT4038

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In defence of the GC, the London Extension being a late railway and conceived as a whole, was extremely well laid-out with long sweeping curves and some impressive engineering structures. Mention has been made of the curvature around the island platforms, but the design allowed for straight fast-lines to added on the outside as traffic increased - which sadly never did. Many of the hopeless small intermediate stations had closed anyway by the final run-down - it is surprising that the LNER hadn't closed them earlier in the 1930s as it had ruthlessly done with those on the ECML.
What stations did the LNER ruthlessly close on the ECML in the 1930s? I think there is a mistake there. The LNER closed a lot of intermediate stations then on the York-Scarborough line as a pilot scheme to replace with buses, but I don't think then did any others. Th ECML wayside stations were closed by British Railways in the later 50s, only a few years before similar action on the GC.
The passenger experience between Manchester and Sheffield was significantly downgraded as well, swopping comfortable electrically hauled MK 1s for a thrashing Met Camm DMU.
But this was not really the doing of closing the GC. Mk1 hauled trains could have been operated via the Hope Valley - it was simply cheaper to use DMUs.
 

Eyersey468

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Correct, because:

A nationalised railway had no reason to compete with itself;
The Midland Main Line could never have been closed, given its connectivity and originating traffic, also because;
The GCR did not serve Derby (at all) or Chesterfield (directly)

The conundrum is really why the GCR London Extension was built in the first place, as every single place of significance it served already had a rail connection.
AIIU the London extension was built because Sir Edward Watkins wanted to provide through running to the continent through a Channel Tunnel, note I said A Channel Tunnel not THE Channel Tunnel.
 

markindurham

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Surely the Hope Valley would have had to be retained to serve rail freight's important customer at Earles Cement Works, a traffic source which sadly Woodhead lacked ?
The proposal was for it to be accessed from one end only - similar to how BR wanted to access the quarry at Ribblehead after closing & demolishing the viaduct...
 

simonw

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And he was also involved in the first Channel Tunnel scheme - which is why the London Extension's loading gauge was quite generous...
It wasn't really that generous, and wouldn't have allowed modern (at the time of closure) European stock to operate.
 

markindurham

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It wasn't really that generous, and wouldn't have allowed modern (at the time of closure) European stock to operate.
That's the point I was making - sadly somehow the tale started that it was originally built to take full size European stock, and, like Topsy, has 'growed'. That has led to more bandwagon-jumpers getting themselves worked up into a frenzy about "how wicked it was to shut this ready-built Continental gauge and high speed (sic) railway..." :rolleyes:
 

nickw1

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BIB - I assume you're referring to things like the LSW mainline, the S&D and the general closure of Southern branches in Devon & Cornwall.

Not quite the same - the choice between the LSW mainline and GW mainline west of Exeter was always an easy one - one served the main population areas, the other didn't.

The S&D really didn't serve a useful purpose - it ran through sparsely populated areas (and those areas are still fairly sparsely populated to this day).
It did provide a link between Bournemouth and the Bristol area - though I'd have routed it via Westbury rather than retaining the northern section, and retaining the Bournemouth-Salisbury line would probably have been a better option than the S+D as it would also serve Salisbury and provide more connections.

Or, as someone suggested in another thread, building a curve at Redbridge might have been the cheapest option. Sadly, both went and the Redbridge curve has never been built. (Curves at Redbridge and Yeovil would improve Bournemouth's north and west connectivity significantly but have never been done...)

(I would have retained a stub to Wimborne though. Wimborne is a sizable place, similar to Romsey, and is close to the Bournemouth-Poole conurbation so could probably have supported an hourly DMU shuttle).
 
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A0wen

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It did provide a link between Bournemouth and the Bristol area

A very slow link - and not one which could easily have been upgraded for higher speed running.

retaining the Bournemouth-Salisbury line would probably have been a better option than the S+D as it would also serve Salisbury and provide more connections.

Another lightly used, heavily loss making line which was a no-hoper.

Not for the first time a line which had been built which probably shouldn't have been.
 

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Another GC problem after 1960 was that its core infrastructure was then 60+ years old and would have been in need of major renewals (bar electrified Woodhead).
The older lines (LNWR, GN, Midland, GW) had already passed that point and had been renewed and upgraded (with much 4-tracking), several times in some cases.
BR had decided its priority for renewals was roughly in the order above, starting with LNWR electrification, and the GC did not figure - BR did not have the money to upgrade more than one line at a time anyway.
In fact the Midland also suffered from this BR approach, leading to proposals that the northern MML should be served from Euston via Northampton-Market Harborough, finally avoided by the decision to electrify St Pancras-Bedford.
Arguably, the present HS2 plans are the modern implementation of this policy, although the full MML will also be upgraded and electrified.

Dilapidation was also the reason many railways round the world closed, as the owners did not have the funds to renew what had been built generations previously.
This was particularly noticeable in North and South America.
The Milwaukee Road transcontinental railway closed its electrified mountain sections in 1974 on this basis, and then closed virtually its whole western system in 1980 (built 1909).
 

Senex

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That's the point I was making - sadly somehow the tale started that it was originally built to take full size European stock, and, like Topsy, has 'growed'. That has led to more bandwagon-jumpers getting themselves worked up into a frenzy about "how wicked it was to shut this ready-built Continental gauge and high speed (sic) railway..." :rolleyes:
Just so. Do we know where and when this story about so-called "continental gauge" first started? The London Extension simply conformed, like other new construction of the time, to the then requirements of the Board of Trade.
 

RT4038

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Another GC problem after 1960 was that its core infrastructure was then 60+ years old and would have been in need of major renewals (bar electrified Woodhead).
The older lines (LNWR, GN, Midland, GW) had already passed that point and had been renewed and upgraded (with much 4-tracking), several times in some cases.
BR had decided its priority for renewals was roughly in the order above, starting with LNWR electrification, and the GC did not figure - BR did not have the money to upgrade more than one line at a time anyway.
In fact the Midland also suffered from this BR approach, leading to proposals that the northern MML should be served from Euston via Northampton-Market Harborough, finally avoided by the decision to electrify St Pancras-Bedford.
Arguably, the present HS2 plans are the modern implementation of this policy, although the full MML will also be upgraded and electrified.

Dilapidation was also the reason many railways round the world closed, as the owners did not have the funds to renew what had been built generations previously.
This was particularly noticeable in North and South America.
The Milwaukee Road transcontinental railway closed its electrified mountain sections in 1974 on this basis, and then closed virtually its whole western system in 1980 (built 1909).
The GC line was completed at the peak of railway demand, in a framework of competitive operations. Within 20 years traffic started declining, with both road competition and economic depression, and technology started to become available to improve efficiency and increase throughput (not that the railways were particularly quick at adopting this). It was probably never really required.
 
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Just so. Do we know where and when this story about so-called "continental gauge" first started? The London Extension simply conformed, like other new construction of the time, to the then requirements of the Board of Trade.
I'd be interested to know too. I believe the tunnel north of Charwelton still bears the scars from overloaded loco tenders, so wasn't built to any enlarged gauge.
 

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Another lightly used, heavily loss making line which was a no-hoper.

Not for the first time a line which had been built which probably shouldn't have been.

Another S&DJR! the Wimbourne section was on a different line ( and the original one in the area, I think? ). All this talk about BR(W) and it's hatred of the ex-LSWR lines does gloss over how the LSWR line to Exeter was never really competitive, we're lucky it still exists frankly. I wonder if closing the Salisbury-Yeovil section was ever considered ( that is going a bit off-topic admittedly, albeit tangentially on topic as another duplicate main line ). Castle Cary-Weymouth was the original main line, so running Paddington-Exeter via Yeovil could have been a regular thing without trekking down a branch line.

Which leads back around to - is there any section of the GC main line ( other than Nottingham Victoria ) which could have been patched in like that? and as an aside if Marylebone was too small, you could have diverted some GC services to Paddington ( which would have been a hell of a mess *now*! ).
 
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The LSWR/SR was very competitive to Exeter. For those living in Exeter, it provided much earlier arrivals in London than the GW lot down the hill at St David's did.
 

RT4038

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Another S&DJR! the Wimbourne section was on a different line ( and the original one in the area, I think? ). All this talk about BR(W) and it's hatred of the ex-LSWR lines does gloss over how the LSWR line to Exeter was never really competitive, we're lucky it still exists frankly. I wonder if closing the Salisbury-Yeovil section was ever considered ( that is going a bit off-topic admittedly, albeit tangentially on topic as another duplicate main line ). Castle Cary-Weymouth was the original main line, so running Paddington-Exeter via Yeovil could have been a regular thing without trekking down a branch line.

Which leads back around to - is there any section of the GC main line ( other than Nottingham Victoria ) which could have been patched in like that? and as an aside if Marylebone was too small, you could have diverted some GC services to Paddington ( which would have been a hell of a mess *now*! ).
I think complete closure Salisbury-Exeter was contemplated, presumably with Paddington-Yeovil (Pen Mill) trains operating. Not sure why running via Yeovil to Exeter would have been a proposal - much slower than via Taunton.

However, none of this was connected to the Great Central in any way.
 

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