Last Trains: Dr Beeching and the Death of Rural England
By: Charles Loft (author)Paperback
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During the course of the 1950s England lost confidence in its rulers and convinced itself to modernise. The bankrupt steam-powered railway, run by a retired general, symbolised everything that was wrong with the country; the future lay in motorways and high speed electric - or even atomic - express trains. But plans for a gleaming new railway system ended in failure and on the roads traffic ground to a halt. Along came Dr Beeching, forensically analysing the railways' problems and expertly delivering an expert's diagnosis - a third of the nation's railways must go. This was the point at which the reality of modernisation dawned and rural England fell victim to the road and car - at least that is how Dr Beeching is remembered today. Last Trains examines why and how the railway system contracted, exposing the political failures that bankrupted the railways and examining officials' attempts to understand a transport revolution beyond their control. It is a story of the increasing alienation of bureaucrats from the public they thought they were serving, but also of a nation that thinks it lives in the countryside trying to come to terms with modernity.
Charles Loft was born in London at the height of the Beeching era and spent much of his youth exploring abandoned railway lines. He received his PhD from the University of London in 1999. He currently works as a policy adviser and still occasionally gets lost while looking for forgotten railways. He lives in London.
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- ID: 9781849547123
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