How Dr Richard Beeching's rail cuts of 1963 sparked uproar

Dr Richard Beeching (right) at Swanley

Dr Richard Beeching (right) at Swanley

First published in Nostalgia by

SOME readers will remember the man pictured. His name was Dr Richard Beeching and 50 years ago, as chairman of British Railways, he began to compile a report on the future of the country’s cherished railway network.

In March 1963, he announced he intended to close 2,128 stations, scrap 8,000 coaches and cut 67,000 jobs.

His report was greeted by uproar, with the fiercest opposition from Conservative MPs in the south east who accused the chairman of gross misjudgement.

Beeching travelled the country and his arrival in Swanley made every railwayman who worked on this line to Victoria almost sick with anxiety.

But there was no need to worry.

The former London, Chatham and Dover company’s line, then just 100 years old, survived the cuts.

However, many didn’t and Beeching’s name is to this day associated with the mass closure of railways and the loss of many local services in the period which followed.

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