The branch lines committee

Andy873

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I want to ask does anyone know anything about the branch lines committee?

The only thing I can find out is that it was formed in 1949 with the remit to identify branch lines that were poor performers, i.e. losing money / not needed and to close them down.

So who would have been on this committee?
Was there only one committee?
Where was it based - London?
How long did this committee last for?

As I've said earlier, I know absolutely nothing about it, can anyone tell me anything about it?

Thanks,

Andy.
 
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Mcr Warrior

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As you say, surprisingly little online. All the sources simply refer to the above-mentioned committee as being part of the 'British Transport Commission' and having a brief to close the least-used branch lines (a precursor to the Beeching cuts) and -erm- that's it! :s
 
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'Holding the Line' by Richard Faulkener and Chris Austin (2012) has a brief account of its work - it was in fact several committees. There was a national committee of Railway Executive HQ members, and one for each region (chaired by one of the HQ members). The regional committees had full time staff drawn from the operating, commercial and engineering departments. The remit was 'an investigation of every branch line whose earning capacity was in question' - individual station closures were not considered at this juncture. They were also to consider possible savings with diesel railcars or 'bustitution' (as it wasn't called then). The committees met in the period 1949 - 53 after which they were disbanded - the change of government, abandonment of any integrated transport policy and abolition of the Railway Executive in 1951 not helping the process. 200 cases were considered in this period, recommending complete closure of some 500 route miles. 1951 was the carnage year with 54 branch lines going. After 1953 it was left up to the individual regions - some were quite proactive pre-Beeching - the WR closed a lot in the West Country (Princetown, Ashburton, Teign Valley etc) but the LMR made little progress.
 

Mcr Warrior

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Believe that there are sets of undigitised minutes of the Branch Lines Committee dating back to 1950/51 and 1951/52 available at the National Archives in Kew. Will probably require the OP / someone making a personal visit as the info isn't yet downloadable.
 

coppercapped

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Terry Gourvish’s ‘British Railways 1948-73’ gives essentially the same information as Sir Felix Pole #3 , but goes on to cover some of the other effects.

He points out (p 119) that over the whole of the 1948-53 period 253 miles were closed to passenger and freight traffic, 1167 miles to passenger traffic only and 359 miles to freight traffic only. The total savings were £1,159,000 according to the Branch Lines Committee minutes summarised by Derek Aldcroft in British Railways in Transition: The Economic Problems of Britain’s Railways since 1914 (Macmillan, 1968).

He (Gourvish) writes:
Many of the closures put before the ad-hoc committee of the Executive were so obviously justfied that one can only wonder why action had not been taken before nationalisation. For example, of the 205 proposals for which financial information survives 42 involved no loss of revenue at all, and a further 11 meant a sacrifice of rental income (there was no railway traffic) amounting to only £292. Closure schemes included such gems as the London Midland Region’s Swannington Incline, which was worked by stationary engine (installed in 1833) until 1948, and Western’s Corris branch (Aberllefeni-Rargoed section), worked by horse and gravitation until 1948.
The committee adopted an essentially conservative stance, and this was made clear in its terms of reference. Branch line policy 'should not be approached solely from the negative points of view of reducing expenditure. The main object was to increase or maintain net revenue, and this could not be considered without regard to wider aspects now opened up by transport integration'. So it considered that it could only support termination of passenger rail services when it could offer replacement buses through its sister Road Transport Executive. Other considerations were the use of lightweight diesel railcars and trains and the use of cheap fares.

The existence of such alternatives clearly helped to postpone any major action to weed out patent loss-making areas until it became unavoidable by 1960. This was not helped by the BTC not instigating an equivalent committee on the abolishment of Railway Executive in 1953, not 1951 as stated by Sir James Milne (although I expect this was a typo!), as a result of the Transport Act of that year.
 
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Seems to have been mostly anonymous, I could only find one newspaper article that gave any names.


In The Western Times, 28th January 1949 -

Totnes —Ashburton Line To Continue
....Totnes Rural Council learnt, on Friday, from a letter from Mr. K. W. C. Grand, chief regional officer of British Railways, Paddington, that there was at present no intention of closing down the Totnes- Ashburton branch line.
....Mr. Grand stated that the Railway Executive had decided on a general review of branch line services to see where existing facilities were justified where support was consistently disappointing Due regard was being paid to alternative transport facilities and inconvenience likely to be caused While it could be confirmed there was no intention of closing Ashburton line at present, the matter was one to be considered. Representa tions from the council would be carefully borne in mind.
....It was agreed to ask for good notice of any further suggestion of closing the line.
_____________

In The Dundee Courier, 3rd December 1949 -

MORE BRANCH LINES MAY CLOSE
....Recent withdrawals and changes of transport facilities in Scotland were the subject of statements by the British Transport Commission yesterday to the Scottish Transport Users' Consultative Committee in Edinburgh.
....Mr Neil S. Beaton, the chairman, said that a great deal of criticism had been levelled against nationalised transport. He believed, however, that the services had in many ways improved. Staff relations were better, and passenger and freight trains were running better to time.
....Claims against railway losses were down by £1 million, as against 1948. The savmg had been accomplished by extra security measures.
....Regarding withdrawal of branch-line services, the commission stated that, in view of the serious loss entailed, in spite of the inducement of cheap day fares, they had been obliged to call for a review of the need to continue providing a service on certain branch lines.
....In many cases the receipts had fallen to a quarter of the minimum necessary for safe operation. This trend was also manifest before the war, when the railway companies were already closing down unprofitable sections.
CONSULTATION PROMISED
....Sir lan Bolton, Scottish member of the commission, afterwards said the revision of branch-line services was going on throughout Britain, but always with regard to local needs.
....In no case would a branch line be closed down without consultation with local authorities and other interested parties.
....Regarding the Clyde and Campbeltown cargo services, the commission's statement pointed out that freight traffic was now being operated by road vehicles to the mainland.
....Even the rearrangement of services would incur a considerable loss. The commission was responsible under the Act for securing that their revenue was sufficient to meet all charges.
....The whole problem of providing transport for these outlying counties on an economic basis was difficult. The commission felt that the arrangement to meet the position created by the decision of the Clyde Company to cease operations was sound, provided the necessary support was forthcoming.
_____________

This is the only article I've found that gives possible names. In The Dundee Courier, 3rd May 1950 -

FIFERS FIGHT TO KEEP RAIL LINE

....Cupar District Council and Fife Planning Committee are to press their protest against the decision to close the North of Fife branch railway line between Newburgh and Dundee on June 5.
....In Cupar yesterday representatives met three officials of the Railway Executive, Mr C. J. H. Selfe, Mr Simpson, and Mr J. M'Master.
....Mr R. L. Christie. Kennoway, planning convener for the county, maintained that though the line did not pay, that was no basis on which to cut it off.
....In 1897, when the L.N.E.R. took over from the North Fife Railway Company, they undertook to keep the line running in perpetuity. Now that a temporary economic blizzard had come along it had been decided to wipe the line out.
....People were going.to lose their jobs and the farmers were going to be let down. The original obligation still existed morally, and the railways were responsible for keeping the services going until a suitable alternative was found.
TWO PASSENGERS
....Mr Selfe said it looked as if the people had already chosen their alternative form of transport as the rate of passenger travel on the line had already fallen as low as two per train.
....Lieut.-Comdr. H. Hutchison-Bradburne, Cunnoquhie, said people were driven to give their patronage to other transport. It was getting to the point where nobody could afford the luxury of travel by rail. If the Executive's reasoning was carried to its logical conclusion there would soon be no train service in the country.
....Mr J. Alston, Lochmalony, said the railway officials did not claim that the goods handled by them on this line were not profitable. Seed potatoes alone, which were mostly destined for England, were a regular source of income, as was sugar beet, grain, and livestock.
....The tax revenue from the district must be considerable, and should be used to give an adequate train service rather than go to finance nationalised services.
....Mr J. M. Mitchell, county clerk, said the decision to close the line had been taken before the date of a meeting of the Scottish Transport Users' Consultative Committee, to whom these matters were referred. The question was on the agenda of this committee, and he thought it was a farcical position that the Railway Executive had refused to delay the decision until then.
....Mr M'Master said they had come to intimate the position to-day, and as far as they were concerned June 5 was the date on which the line would be closed.
RESOLUTION
....The meeting adopted a resolution strongly deprecating the proposal to close the North of Fife Railway. They are entirely opposed to any suggestion that the line be closed on .Tune 5 because of the effect upon the agricultural community, and of the opinion that the procedure in attempting to close the line has not been in accordance with democratic principles.
....Mr Mitchell said the resolution would be sent to the Fife M.P.s, Railway Executive, and, if it is thought wise, to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport.
_____________

Were all communications from the Railway Executive through a solicitor? In The Dundee Courier, 14th June 1950 -
....Fife County Clerk (Mr J. M. Mitchell) has met with what he calls "door-slamming tactics" in his efforts to discuss with a British Transport Commission solicitor the proposed closing of the North of Fife branch railway line.
....A report on the correspondence between Mr Mitchell and the Railway Executive was read yesterday to Cupar District Council.
....In his final letter to the solicitor, Mr Mitchell had said: —" To deprive business people of transport facilities simply by putting up a notice does not accord with the elementarv principles of British justice, and, personally, I dislike door-slamming tactics when I politely ask for discussion.
_____________

The Chief Administration Officer of the Railway Executive is mentioned twice in this article in The Dover Express, 7th July 1950, but not by name -

£80,000 TO KEEP E.K. RAILWAY OPEN

FINAL DECISION ON LINE EXPECTED SOON.
....The final decision on the proposal to close the East Kent Light Railway, which serves the villages from Shepherdswell to Wingham, is expected very soon.
....The Chief Administration Officer of the Railway Executive, in a letter to Mr. J. Arbuthnot, M.P., who took the matter up on behalf of Eastry Parish Council and the Ash Branch of the N.F.U., says that a large increase in traffic—considered unlikely—would be necessary to make the line remunerative.
...."Moreover, an estimated expenditure of £80,000 must shortly be incurred to bring the line even up to Light Railway standard if it is to be kept open,” the letter says. One reason for retaining the line put forward by Mr. Arbuthnot, was the probable expansion of the Kent coalfield, but to this the Railway Executive replied that the National Coal Board had no objection to the line being closed. Nor could the Executive obtain any information that a big house building programme was contemplated for the area served by the line.
....If the line was closed, the Chief Administrative Officer says, very considerable financial economies would result. Alternative facilities would be provided for dealing with the traffic. The question of charges for deliveries in the event of closure was still receiving careful consideration. It was appreciated that facilities at main line stations for dealing with sugar beet might not be quite so convenient for some farmers, and the extra cost to one coal merchant, was admitted. A reduction of the service to one train a day would not result in any appreciable saving, as the engines were primarily required for Tilmanstone Colliery working, and would not be available for use further afield.
....Mr. Arbuthnot. in sending the replies he had received to the Parish Council and N.F.U., has suggested that when the Railway Executive decision was known, they should call for a public inquiry before the line is finally closed.
 

Andy873

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Thanks everyone for the in depth, detailed replies, they are very interesting indeed.

My reason for asking is that I have a theory about a branch line of interest to me:

My theory is that this branch line was marked for closure (at least to passengers) a "good while" before it actually happened...

For me, it starts in 1955. A very large electrical company built a new factory right next to one of the three stations on this line.

The station was in a rural area, but never the less all the passenger trains stopped there until the company asked BR if one of the early trains could depart 10 minutes earlier. BR said it was impossible and the day the factory opened they removed the stop at the station - just this one service.

Talk of closure was mooted in 1956, and passenger services withdrawn in 1957.

So I think a decision had already been made behind closed doors and it was done by the branch lines committee.

Does this theory sound pleasurable?

Thanks,
Andy.
 

Dai Corner

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Presumably this is another reference to Mullard of Simonstone?

 

Clarence Yard

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Does this theory sound pleasurable?

No. The branch line committee had been abolished and it was now up to the regions to decide.

Certainly closure would have been on the radar when the factory opened as the service wouldn’t have been a net earner. The opening of the factory wouldn’t have made much difference to the economics of the line - the location seems a natural for bike/bus for the majority of the workers.
 

Andy873

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Thanks guys.

It was my old thing about Simonstone - and it was just a theory.

Thanks,

Andy.
 

Calthrop

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Just musings here, on the general "scene" brought up by this thread, rather than the particular case of Simonstone and the Great Harwood loop ...

The committees met in the period 1949 - 53 after which they were disbanded - the change of government, abandonment of any integrated transport policy and abolition of the Railway Executive in 1951 not helping the process. 200 cases were considered in this period, recommending complete closure of some 500 route miles. 1951 was the
carnage year with 54 branch lines going. After 1953 it was left up to the individual regions - some were quite proactive pre-Beeching - the WR closed a lot in the West
Country (Princetown, Ashburton, Teign Valley etc) but the LMR made little progress.

I had been aware that the new British Railways implemented numerous passenger closures -- in a good many cases, involving withdrawal of freight services too -- on very-definitely-minor routes, over the period 1950 -- 1953 inclusive (only a relatively few, utterly hopeless, lines closed in '48 and '49). Hadn't realised though that in the period mentioned, 1951 was significantly the "goriest" (to continue the metaphor) year thereof. Having known 1951 as the precise closure date of only a very few lines: out of interest, I've been through Daniels and Dench's Passengers No More, noting 1951 closures as shown therein. I would seem to make it 60 lines, rather than the above-cited 54: may possibly have been guilty of some unintended duplication. Some confusing stuff in Scotland, particularly; and it would seem that in '51, the southern half of Scotland was especially hard-hit in this way.

Whatever the precise number; in any case, a daunting total: markedly more than in the worst year of the early 1930s -- a period in which the "Big Four" were wielding the axe with some energy. (Incidentally, 1951 was world-wide, a bad year for closures of charming lesser rail lines.)

The Chief Administration Officer of the Railway Executive is mentioned twice in this article in The Dover Express, 7th July 1950, but not by name -

£80,000 TO KEEP E.K. RAILWAY OPEN

FINAL DECISION ON LINE EXPECTED SOON.
....The final decision on the proposal to close the East Kent Light Railway, which serves the villages from Shepherdswell to Wingham, is expected very soon.
....The Chief Administration Officer of the Railway Executive, in a letter to Mr. J. Arbuthnot, M.P., who took the matter up on behalf of Eastry Parish Council and the Ash Branch of the N.F.U., says that a large increase in traffic—considered unlikely—would be necessary to make the line remunerative.
...."Moreover, an estimated expenditure of £80,000 must shortly be incurred to bring the line even up to Light Railway standard if it is to be kept open,” the letter says. One reason for retaining the line put forward by Mr. Arbuthnot, was the probable expansion of the Kent coalfield, but to this the Railway Executive replied that the National Coal Board had no objection to the line being closed. Nor could the Executive obtain any information that a big house building programme was contemplated for the area served by the line.
....If the line was closed, the Chief Administrative Officer says, very considerable financial economies would result. Alternative facilities would be provided for dealing with the traffic. The question of charges for deliveries in the event of closure was still receiving careful consideration. It was appreciated that facilities at main line stations for dealing with sugar beet might not be quite so convenient for some farmers, and the extra cost to one coal merchant, was admitted. A reduction of the service to one train a day would not result in any appreciable saving, as the engines were primarily required for Tilmanstone Colliery working, and would not be available for use further afield.
....Mr. Arbuthnot. in sending the replies he had received to the Parish Council and N.F.U., has suggested that when the Railway Executive decision was known, they should call for a public inquiry before the line is finally closed.

A slight oddity perhaps, concerning the above: while the article's date is July 1950; per Daniels and Dench -- corroborated by another Googled source -- the EKLR's passenger service between Shepherdswell and "the Winghams", was withdrawn w.e.f. 1/11/1948; seemingly passenger-wise a total "basket case" -- getting rid of which, a high priority for the new BR. One must assume, I feel, that a local paper in Dover was sufficiently in touch with doings a few miles away, to be aware in July '50, that the line concerned had lost its passenger service a year and a half previously. With the article's text not being specific about "passenger or freight" -- from the content, I can only surmise that while it is a "given" there, that coal traffic continued to run, and would go on running, between Shepherdswell and the collieries at Eythorne / Tilmanstone; after passenger withdrawal in Nov. 1948, general freight had continued to run over the whole line, north of the collieries -- and it is the future of this, poorly-used, operation which is being debated. If I have things rightly, freight was indeed withdrawn, and the line totally abandoned, north of the collieries; at a date not far into the 1950s.
 
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A slight oddity perhaps, concerning the above: while the article's date is July 1950; per Daniels and Dench -- corroborated by another Googled source -- the EKLR's passenger service between Shgepherdswell and "the Winghams", was withdrawn w.e.f. 1/11/1948; seemingly passenger-wise a total "basket case" -- getting rid of which, a high priority for the new BR. One must assume, I feel, that a local paper in Dover was sufficiently in touch with doings a few miles away, to be aware in July '50, that the line concerned had lost its passenger service a year and a half previously. With the article's text not being specific about "passenger or freight" -- from the content, I can only surmise that while it is a "given" there, that coal traffic continued to run, and would go on running, between Shepherdswell and the collieries at Eythorne / Tilmanstone; after passenger withdrawal in Nov. 1948, general freight had continued to run over the whole line, north of the collieries -- and it is the future of this, poorly-used, operation which is being debated. If I have things rightly, freight was indeed withdrawn, and the line totally abandoned, north of the collieries; at a date not far into the 1950s.

I went back and had another search through the Dover Express. Yes, freight only in 1950. The piece below is from 20th October 1950. I've highlighted two sentences at the end.


LIGHT RAILWAY CLOSURE PROTESTS
...At a meeting, convened by Ash and District National Farmers’ Union, at the “Red Lion,’’ Ash, on Monday, some thirty-odd users of the East Kent Light Railway agreed to ask for a public inquiry into the proposal of the Railway Executive to close the line from Eythorne to Wingham as from 1st November.
....Letters are being sent to Mr. J. Arbuthnot, M.P. for the Division, who will present them to the proper quarter. About half of those present agreed, if necessary, to contribute to the cost of legal representation should an inquiry be held.
....Mr. P. J. Linington, Ash N.F.U. Vice-Chairman, presiding, said it was no good getting an inquiry unless they were prepared to attend and give evidence to show it was necessary to keep the line open. If they wanted to retain the line they had to fight for it. Mr. Arbuthnot said he had emphasised to the Transport Commission the particular value of the line to farmers and the additional burden that would arise if it were closed. He received a reply stating a large increase in traffic would be necessary to make the line remunerative and £80,000 would have to be spent to bring the line up to light railway standard if it was to be kept open. The real crux of the thing was whether they would be able to put sufficient traffic on the line to make it pay. It was a little difficult to down the nationalised railway for losing about £5O a minute if they were to urge the keeping open of an uneconomic line. "Can this line be made economical and if so what proposals are we going to put forward to persuade the Executive to keep it open?” he asked.
....Mr. Jack Bones, of Eastry, said the burden of the Railway Executive’s contention that they had to meet was “The line doesn’t pay” at least as they ran it. The line, there for more than a generation, connected with the railhead at Dover—a facility many villages would like to have. Railways were taken over on the principle the strong should support the weak. He contended the line was taken from private enterprise on the pretext it would be run better. If the Executive refused to re-organise it and make it pay it was they who should pay the sacrifice and not the users. A large sum of public money had been spent on re-sleepering the track which was in better condition to-day than for the past 20 years, and if the line closed it should stir the indignation of every taxpayer and hold the Executive to scorn. Mr. Bones asked whether anybody present believed the line could not be run for another 20 years without £80,000 being spent on it. Economies should not be made on the line, but where the Executive had wantonly disposed of the nation’s money. Much money had been expended on the line and they were entitled to the benefit of it. It should not go out of use and rot because of one year’s mismanagement. He suggested closure would mean a large loss of sugar beet crop, hardship to farmers, Hammill Brick works and small traders, who would be require to pay not only for losing the facility of the line but for replacing the facility. After referring to the Railway Executive as a “monstrous body of party organisation,” he said they should resist the arbitrary action and complete indifference of the Executive to the problems the closure of the line would raise.
....The Chairman of Sandwich Chamber of Commerce, Mr. A. Jutson, thought the line would be closed unless a very concrete case was put up. They would have to show that the necessary support would be forthcoming to produce some revenue. Between 1945 and 1949, tonnage had dropped considerably. Mr. Hamlin, of Hammill Brick Works, revealed that they depended on the line for receiving 20 to 30 tons of coal a week, and oil, but with the exception of one truck of bricks, all their bricks had gone away by road this year. This was because customers did not like double handling. In reply to a question, Mr. Hamlin said that if coal was delivered by road it would be more expensive. One speaker hinted that the closing of the line would increase coal merchants’ costs and the price of coal in the area would go up. The Chairman pointed out they were not asking for a big regular service. A train a day, or every other day, would be adequate.
....Mr. F. Camell, of Ash, who was employed on the line for 21 years, said the railway was most essential at Ash and Eastry. It was of strategic value and a national necessity, was considerably used in the war and would not be allowed to go derelict. During the war, 30,547 tons of fruit and vegetables were carried from Staple Station and over 15,000 tons of fertilisers, washes and general goods, besides coal, were received there. Carriage of coal from Tilmanstone Colliery produced about £350 a week and he thought the stretch it was proposed to close could earn another £350 if efforts were made. He believed more goods should be put on rail and said more co-operation from farmers would assist in keeping the line going. Jt was not economical to send small quantities of goods in many lorries. The railway never made much money and to-day more men were employed on it than before.
....Mr. Arbuthnot said he had been officially told the number of staff at stations had not been increased and no more men were employed than necessary, and one train a day had been considered. If an inquiry was held they should marshal their case. When he asked how many would be prepared to put more on the railway if it did remain open, not one present raised a hand.
....On the proposition of Mr. Hamlin it was agreed to organise a fighting fund immediately. It will be recollected that the line was closed to passenger traffic about two years ago.
 
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Dr Hoo

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Surely the findings and thinking of the Branch Lines Committee had been embedded in mainstream policy by 1955?

The Modernisation and Re-equipment of British Railways (aka the Modernisation Plan) started with an Introduction about preparing BR to be "... economically self-supporting for many years to come."

Specifically in terms of Passenger Traffic and Passenger Carriages:
"Lastly, the study of comparative costs of different types of passenger services has revealed that certain stopping and branch-line steam services are carried on at a heavy loss. For the most part the carriages employed on these services are of the non-corridor compartment type. Broadly speaking, it must be accepted that these services will either be replaced by diesel multiple-unit trains (which will normally be the case where there is a reasonable prospect of stimulating sufficient additional traffic), or by appropriate road services."

Frankly any regional manager would have realised that peak-only short-distance duplicate routes such as the Simonstone loop were doomed from that moment on. There was never going to be a chance that such services would justify the scarce capital to re-equip with DMUs and, as noted above, the Mullard factories would have made a minimal difference.
 

Andy873

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Surely the findings and thinking of the Branch Lines Committee had been embedded in mainstream policy by 1955?

The Modernisation and Re-equipment of British Railways (aka the Modernisation Plan) started with an Introduction about preparing BR to be "... economically self-supporting for many years to come."

Specifically in terms of Passenger Traffic and Passenger Carriages:
"Lastly, the study of comparative costs of different types of passenger services has revealed that certain stopping and branch-line steam services are carried on at a heavy loss. For the most part the carriages employed on these services are of the non-corridor compartment type. Broadly speaking, it must be accepted that these services will either be replaced by diesel multiple-unit trains (which will normally be the case where there is a reasonable prospect of stimulating sufficient additional traffic), or by appropriate road services."

Frankly any regional manager would have realised that peak-only short-distance duplicate routes such as the Simonstone loop were doomed from that moment on. There was never going to be a chance that such services would justify the scarce capital to re-equip with DMUs and, as noted above, the Mullard factories would have made a minimal difference.
I do have to agree with you.

When I read the modernisation plan for the first time what you quoted stood out to me. Given the amount of financial investment coming its way BR would have really wanted to close as many branch lines as it could get away with.

To research an individual line would as mentioned earlier probably require a trip to Kew.

Thank you everyone, I have found out more about the branch lines committee in the last few days than I had over several years.
 

Calthrop

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I went back and had another search through the Dover Express. Yes, freight only in 1950. The piece below is from 20th October 1950. I've highlighted two sentences at the end.

@weepingwillowb: thank you for this -- indeed, of interest. I find it noteworthy that as at 1950, there were still some users who valued this line's freight services on the section beyond Eythorne and Tilmanstone collieries. An indication that seventy-odd years ago, the line's "country section" was -- although unremunerative -- still not totally farcical and useless.

Would anyone know, by any chance, the date when withdrawal of the freight service "north of the collieries" did finally happen?
 

John Webb

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@weepingwillowb: thank you for this -- indeed, of interest. I find it noteworthy that as at 1950, there were still some users who valued this line's freight services on the section beyond Eythorne and Tilmanstone collieries. An indication that seventy-odd years ago, the line's "country section" was -- although unremunerative -- still not totally farcical and useless.

Would anyone know, by any chance, the date when withdrawal of the freight service "north of the collieries" did finally happen?
According to the entry at http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/e/eythorne/index.shtml it was 1st March 1951 that the line north of Tilmanstone colliery was closed. It was lifted between 1954 and 1958.
 
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@weepingwillowb: thank you for this -- indeed, of interest. I find it noteworthy that as at 1950, there were still some users who valued this line's freight services on the section beyond Eythorne and Tilmanstone collieries. An indication that seventy-odd years ago, the line's "country section" was -- although unremunerative -- still not totally farcical and useless.

Would anyone know, by any chance, the date when withdrawal of the freight service "north of the collieries" did finally happen?
I can only access the local paper up to the end of 1950, but following the last article I posted, a public inquiry was ruled out by the then-Minister for Transport (Alfred Barnes) in the last week of October, and the closure of the line between Eythorne and Wingham was set for December 1st 1950. On that date British Railways placed an advert in the Dover Express, stating that the line from Wingham (Canterbury Road) "to a point immediately North of Eythorne" would remain open until December 31st 1950. On the 22nd it was reported that B.R. had been decided to postpone the closure until a date "not yet fixed."

And on the 29th the following advert appeared: -
 

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Calthrop

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According to the entry at http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/e/eythorne/index.shtml it was 1st March 1951 that the line north of Tilmanstone colliery was closed. It was lifted between 1954 and 1958.
I can only access the local paper up to the end of 1950, but following the last article I posted, a public inquiry was ruled out by the then-Minister for Transport (Alfred Barnes) in the last week of October, and the closure of the line between Eythorne and Wingham was set for December 1st 1950. On that date British Railways placed an advert in the Dover Express, stating that the line from Wingham (Canterbury Road) "to a point immediately North of Eythorne" would remain open until December 31st 1950. On the 22nd it was reported that B.R. had been decided to postpone the closure until a date "not yet fixed."

And on the 29th the following advert appeared: -

Thanks, both. It would seem that -- in the light of the decidedly poor wicket which it was on -- the EKLR's freight service north of the collieries, "died hard".
 

Dr Hoo

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For what it is worth, Geoffrey Hurst's 'Register of Closed Railways 1948-1991' has:

Eastry-Richborough Castle Siding 1-1-1950 "Official closure" to Goods (This was the first Southern Region closure after nationalisation.)
Eastry-Wingham Canterbury Road 25-7-1950 "Regular traffic ceased"
Ditto 1-7-1951 "Official closure" to Goods (Note this was almost a year later.)

[I am making no claim about the likely accuracy of any source.]
 

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