May I put in a few words in support of the unfairly maligned Dr. Richard Beeching? Contrary to popular opinion, he did not “cut” a single mile of Britain’s railways.

He was appointed by the British Transport Commission to head the new BR Board. His brief was to stem the massive and increasing losses at a time when the government was pouring vast sums into road transport. He did a detailed analysis of all aspects of BR. This demonstrated the inefficiency of long-established operating practices, the under-use of much passenger and freight rolling-stock and that, without government subsidy, most branch lines could never make a profit. Most cross-country trains were running almost empty. His report led to Conservative and Labour Ministers of Transport closing several thousand miles of track. It is often forgotten that some closures started and others were scheduled, before the Beeching Report.