One reason BR was pulling up lines

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Andy873

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Hi,

Well I have been working on this for some time as I've always wondered why BR in the 1960's had a habit of singling double line branches then a year or two would finally pull the remaining line - here is one reason:

What I found was not just the stated obvious - cutting down on the "losses", but also the extra revenue it would bring in.

Now based on 1965's prices (simple as it's mid way through the decade of major closures), BR would easily make in scrap value of around 5,878 pounds per mile.

This is based on calculations the Swanage railway used to rebuild the line, and then calculating the number of rails, chairs, fish plates etc and using an inflation calculator to work out 1965's prices for scrap.

The figure does not include nuts / bolts, wire, signals, stone, slates, and more importantly the land etc.

No wonder BR and Marples were pleased with the idea.
 
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hexagon789

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Hi,

Well I have been working on this for some time as I've always wondered why BR in the 1960's had a habit of singling double line branches then a year or two would finally pull the remaining line - here is one reason:

What I found was not just the stated obvious - cutting down on the "losses", but also the extra revenue it would bring in.

Now based on 1965's prices (simple as it's mid way through the decade of major closures), BR would easily make in scrap value of around 5,878 pounds per mile.

This is based on calculations the Swanage railway used to rebuild the line, and then calculating the number of rails, chairs, fish plates etc and using an inflation calculator to work out 1965's prices for scrap.

The figure does not include nuts / bolts, wire, signals, stone, slates, and more importantly the land etc.

No wonder BR and Marples were pleased with the idea.

I always thought it was to save on maintenance? For example the South Western Mainline was double track in steam days but had only 5 through trains London-Exeter and beyond.

Now it has an hourly through service but of course a number of sections of single line. It made sense at the time with lower train frequencies I imagine.
 

Taunton

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Also contributing was that BR had a very simplistic costing system, basically all track maintenance and renewal costs went into a single pot, and were then divided by the total track miles to get a cost per track mile.

It followed that if maintenance on a route cost £1m and there were 100 track miles (50 double track miles) they thought it cost £10k per track mile. If you singled it, there would be only 50 track miles, and you would halve your costs.

Much as this seemed a nonsense, it took a while to realise that track maintenance costs were quite dependent on the number of trains, or even the total tonnage, rather than by the track mile. Likewise, things like drainage didn't vary much dependent on whether it was single or double track. Although the local ganger could have told them all this quite easily. But it was what they had for statistics at the time.
 

Dr Hoo

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The OP is right that BR made a lot of money from scrap track and rolling stock, and from sale of surplus land, where lines had been entirely closed. This was certainly a feature of the Beeching era. The rationalisation of surviving lines was a bit more subtle and rather later. The 1968 Transport Act established a 'pot' of Surplus Track Capacity Grants. These were actually for the elimination rather than subsidy of inessential infrastructure. The whole set-up - a finite use-it-or-lose-it, got to spend it within five years situation - led to an unseemly rush and 'bidding' from regions against the HQ allocation. Thus a huge 'bank' of rationalisation proposals was built up that influenced planning for many years afterwards.
 
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RLBH

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The OP is right that BR made a lot of money from scrap track and rolling stock, and from sale of surplus land, where lines had been entirely closed.
Indeed, under the various acts which authorised the railways, it was a legal requirement that land be disposed of when no longer required for railway purposes. If a line, station, goods yard or anything like that was surplus, it had to be sold off - no hanging on to it 'just in case', even if that was thought worthwhile.

That requirement made sense when it was first put in, to ensure that railways were in the business of transportation and not of land speculation backed by compulsory purchase. It probably wasn't appropriate for a stable-to-declining railway network.
 

Steamysandy

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Indeed, under the various acts which authorised the railways, it was a legal requirement that land be disposed of when no longer required for railway purposes. If a line, station, goods yard or anything like that was surplus, it had to be sold off - no hanging on to it 'just in case', even if that was thought worthwhile.

That requirement made sense when it was first put in, to ensure that railways were in the business of transportation and not of land speculation backed by compulsory purchase. It probably wasn't appropriate for a stable-to-declining railway network.
A prize example of the sell it quick idea backfiring can be seen at North Berwick .Here the goods yard was sold off for housing,then the station was rationalized leaving just room for a single 4 coach length platform which couldn't be lengthened back to its original buffer stops because that area was now the station car park!
The extension had to be built out under the Ware Road bridge but the original platform could take lengthy trains (the TV train on one occasion!)
 
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