British Rail
Overview
British Railways which from 1965 traded as British Rail, was the operator of most of the rail transport in Great Britain
Rail transport in Great Britain
The railway system in Great Britain is the oldest in the world, with the world's first locomotive-hauled public railway opening in 1825. As of 2010, it consists of of standard gauge lines , of which are electrified. These lines range from single to double, triple, quadruple track and up to twelve...

 between 1948 and 1997. It was formed from the nationalisation of the "Big Four" British railway companies
Big Four British railway companies
The Big Four was a name used to describe the four largest railway companies in the United Kingdom in the period 1923-1947. The name was coined by the Railway Magazine in its issue of February 1923: "The Big Four of the New Railway Era".The Big Four were:...

 and lasted until the gradual privatisation of British Rail
Privatisation of British Rail
The privatisation of British Rail was set in motion when the Conservative government enacted, on 19 January 1993, the British Coal and British Rail Act 1993 . This enabled the relevant Secretary of State to issue directions to the relevant Board...

, in stages between 1994 and 1997. Originally a trading brand of the Railway Executive of the British Transport Commission
British Transport Commission
The British Transport Commission was created by Clement Attlee's post-war Labour government as a part of its nationalisation programme, to oversee railways, canals and road freight transport in Great Britain...

, it became an independent statutory corporation
Statutory Corporation
A statutory corporation or public body is a corporation created by statute. While artificial legal personality is almost always the result of statutory intervention, a statutory corporation does not include corporations owned by shareholders whose legal personality derives from being registered...

 in 1962: the British Railways Board
British Railways Board
The British Railways Board was a nationalised industry in the United Kingdom that existed from 1962 to 2001. From its foundation until 1997, it was responsible for most railway services in Great Britain, trading under the brand names British Railways and, from 1965, British Rail...

.

The period of nationalisation saw sweeping changes in the national railway network.
Encyclopedia
British Railways which from 1965 traded as British Rail, was the operator of most of the rail transport in Great Britain
Rail transport in Great Britain
The railway system in Great Britain is the oldest in the world, with the world's first locomotive-hauled public railway opening in 1825. As of 2010, it consists of of standard gauge lines , of which are electrified. These lines range from single to double, triple, quadruple track and up to twelve...

 between 1948 and 1997. It was formed from the nationalisation of the "Big Four" British railway companies
Big Four British railway companies
The Big Four was a name used to describe the four largest railway companies in the United Kingdom in the period 1923-1947. The name was coined by the Railway Magazine in its issue of February 1923: "The Big Four of the New Railway Era".The Big Four were:...

 and lasted until the gradual privatisation of British Rail
Privatisation of British Rail
The privatisation of British Rail was set in motion when the Conservative government enacted, on 19 January 1993, the British Coal and British Rail Act 1993 . This enabled the relevant Secretary of State to issue directions to the relevant Board...

, in stages between 1994 and 1997. Originally a trading brand of the Railway Executive of the British Transport Commission
British Transport Commission
The British Transport Commission was created by Clement Attlee's post-war Labour government as a part of its nationalisation programme, to oversee railways, canals and road freight transport in Great Britain...

, it became an independent statutory corporation
Statutory Corporation
A statutory corporation or public body is a corporation created by statute. While artificial legal personality is almost always the result of statutory intervention, a statutory corporation does not include corporations owned by shareholders whose legal personality derives from being registered...

 in 1962: the British Railways Board
British Railways Board
The British Railways Board was a nationalised industry in the United Kingdom that existed from 1962 to 2001. From its foundation until 1997, it was responsible for most railway services in Great Britain, trading under the brand names British Railways and, from 1965, British Rail...

.

The period of nationalisation saw sweeping changes in the national railway network. A process of dieselisation
Dieselisation
Dieselisation or dieselization is a term generally used for the increasingly common use of diesel fuel in vehicles, as opposed to gasoline or steam engines.-Water Transport:...

 occurred that eliminated steam locomotion in 1968, in favour of diesel and electric power. Passengers replaced freight as the main source of business, and one third of the network was closed by the Beeching Axe
Beeching Axe
The Beeching Axe or the Beeching Cuts are informal names for the British Government's attempt in the 1960s to reduce the cost of running British Railways, the nationalised railway system in the United Kingdom. The name is that of the main author of The Reshaping of British Railways, Dr Richard...

 of the 1960s.

The British Rail "double arrow" logo is formed of two interlocked arrows showing the direction of travel on a double track
Double track
A double track railway usually involves running one track in each direction, compared to a single track railway where trains in both directions share the same track.- Overview :...

 railway and was nicknamed "the arrow of indecision". It is now employed as a generic symbol on street signs in Great Britain denoting railway stations, and as part of the Association of Train Operating Companies
Association of Train Operating Companies
The Association of Train Operating Companies is a body which represents 24 train operating companies that provide passenger railway services on the privatised British railway system. It owns the National Rail brand. The Association is an unincorporated association owned by its members...

' jointly-managed National Rail
National Rail
National Rail is a title used by the Association of Train Operating Companies as a generic term to define the passenger rail services operated in Great Britain...

 brand is still being printed on railway tickets.

Nationalisation in 1947

The rail transport system in Great Britain developed during the 19th century. After the grouping of 1923 under the Railways Act 1921
Railways Act 1921
The Railways Act 1921, also known as the Grouping Act, was an enactment by the British government of David Lloyd George intended to stem the losses being made by many of the country's 120 railway companies, move the railways away from internal competition, and to retain some of the benefits which...

 there were four large railway companies, each dominating its own geographic area: the Great Western Railway
Great Western Railway
The Great Western Railway was a British railway company that linked London with the south-west and west of England and most of Wales. It was founded in 1833, received its enabling Act of Parliament in 1835 and ran its first trains in 1838...

 (GWR), the London, Midland and Scottish Railway
London, Midland and Scottish Railway
The London Midland and Scottish Railway was a British railway company. It was formed on 1 January 1923 under the Railways Act of 1921, which required the grouping of over 120 separate railway companies into just four...

 (LMS), the London and North Eastern Railway
London and North Eastern Railway
The London and North Eastern Railway was the second-largest of the "Big Four" railway companies created by the Railways Act 1921 in Britain...

 (LNER) and the Southern Railway (SR). During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 the railways were under state control, which continued until 1921. Complete nationalisation had been considered, and the Railways Act 1921
Railways Act 1921
The Railways Act 1921, also known as the Grouping Act, was an enactment by the British government of David Lloyd George intended to stem the losses being made by many of the country's 120 railway companies, move the railways away from internal competition, and to retain some of the benefits which...

  is sometimes considered as a precursor to that, but the concept was rejected; nationalisation was subsequently carried out after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, under the Transport Act 1947
Transport Act 1947
The Transport Act 1947 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Under it the railways, long-distance road haulage and various other types of transport were acquired by the state and handed over to a new British Transport Commission for operation...

. This Act made provision for the nationalisation of the network, as part of a policy of nationalising public services by Clement Attlee
Clement Attlee
Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, KG, OM, CH, PC, FRS was a British Labour politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951, and as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955...

's Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 Government. British Railways came into existence as the business name of the Railway Executive of the British Transport Commission
British Transport Commission
The British Transport Commission was created by Clement Attlee's post-war Labour government as a part of its nationalisation programme, to oversee railways, canals and road freight transport in Great Britain...

 (BTC) on 1 January 1948 when it took over the assets of the Big Four.

There were also joint railway
Joint railway
A joint railway is a railway operating under the control of more than one railway company: those companies very often supplying the traction over the railway.-United Kingdom:There are many examples of joint railway working in the United Kingdom...

s between the big four and a few light railways to consider (see list of constituents of British Railways). Excluded from nationalisation were industrial lines like the Oxfordshire Ironstone Railway
Oxfordshire Ironstone Railway
The Oxfordshire Ironstone Railway was a standard gauge mineral railway that served an ironstone quarry near the village of Wroxton in Oxfordshire.-The line's History:...

. Narrow-gauge railways, like the Ffestiniog Railway
Ffestiniog Railway
The Ffestiniog Railway is a narrow gauge heritage railway, located in Gwynedd, Wales. It is a major tourist attraction located mainly within the Snowdonia National Park....

 were also excluded, apart from two already owned by a company that was itself nationalised. The London Underground—publicly owned since 1933—was also nationalised, becoming the London Transport Executive
London Transport Executive
The London Transport Executive was the organisation responsible for public transport in the Greater London area, UK, between 1948-1962. In common with all London transport authorities from 1933 to 2000, the public name and operational brand of the organisation was London Transport.-Creation:On 1...

 of the British Transport Commission. The Bicester Military Railway
Bicester Military Railway
The Bicester Military Railway is a railway in Oxfordshire, England belonging to the Ministry of Defence. It links military depots at Piddington, Arncott and Graven Hill with the Oxford to Bicester Line.The line has no road bridges...

 was already run by the government. The electric Liverpool Overhead Railway
Liverpool Overhead Railway
The Liverpool Overhead Railway was the world's first electrically operated overhead railway. The railway was carried mainly on iron viaducts, with a corrugated iron decking, onto which the tracks were laid. It ran close to the River Mersey in Liverpool, England, following the line of Liverpool Docks...

 was also excluded from nationalisation.

The Railway Executive was conscious that some lines on the (then very dense) network were unprofitable and hard to justify socially, and a programme of closures began almost immediately after nationalisation. However, the general financial position of BR became gradually worse, until an operating loss was recorded in 1955. The Executive itself had been abolished in 1953 by the incoming Conservative government, and control of BR transferred directly to the parent Commission. Other changes to the British Transport Commission at the same time included the return of road haulage to the private sector.

1955 Modernisation Plan

The report latterly known as the "Modernisation Plan" was published in December 1954. It was intended to bring the railway system
Rail transport
Rail transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles merely run on a prepared surface, rail vehicles are also directionally guided by the tracks they run on...

 into the 20th century. A government White Paper
White paper
A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that helps solve a problem. White papers are used to educate readers and help people make decisions, and are often requested and used in politics, policy, business, and technical fields. In commercial use, the term has also come to refer to...

 produced in 1956 stated that modernisation would help eliminate BR's financial deficit by 1962. The aim was to increase speed, reliability, safety, and line capacity through a series of measures that would make services more attractive to passengers and freight operators, thus recovering traffic lost to the roads. Important areas included:
  • Electrification of principal main lines, in the Eastern Region
    Eastern Region of British Railways
    The Eastern Region was a region of British Railways from 1948. The region ceased to be an operating unit in its own right in the 1980s and was wound up at the end of 1992...

    , Kent
    Kent
    Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

    , Birmingham and Central Scotland
    Scotland
    Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

  • Large-scale dieselisation
    Dieselisation
    Dieselisation or dieselization is a term generally used for the increasingly common use of diesel fuel in vehicles, as opposed to gasoline or steam engines.-Water Transport:...

     to replace steam locomotives
    Steam locomotives of British Railways
    The steam locomotives of British Railways were used by British Railways over the period 1948–1968. The vast majority of these were inherited from its four constituent companies, the "Big Four"....

  • New passenger and freight rolling stock
  • Resignalling and track renewal
  • Closure of a number of lines unnecessary in a nationalised network, as they duplicated other lines


In 1955 the programme (costing £1.2 billion) was authorised by the government. This included the withdrawal of steam traction and its replacement by diesel (and some electric) locomotives. Not all the modernisations would be effective at reducing costs. The dieselisation program gave contracts primarily to British suppliers, who had limited experience of diesel locomotive manufacture, and rushed commissioning based on an expectation of rapid electrification resulted in numbers of locomotives with poor designs, and a lack of standardisation. At the same time containerised freight was being developed. The marshalling yard building programme was a failure; being based on a belief in the continued viability of wagon load traffic in the face of increasingly effective road competition, and lacking effective forward planning or realistic assessments of future freight.

The Beeching report

During the late 1950s, railway finances continued to worsen, and in 1959 the government stepped in, limiting the amount the BTC could spend without ministerial authority. A White Paper proposing reorganisation was published in the following year, and a new structure was brought into effect by the Transport Act 1962. This abolished the Commission and replaced it by a number of separate Boards. These included a British Railways Board, which took over on 1 January 1963.

Following semi-secret discussions on railway finances by the government-appointed Stedeford Committee in 1961, one of its members, Doctor Richard Beeching, was offered the post of chairing the BTC while it lasted, and then becoming the first Chairman of the British Railways Board.

A major traffic census in April 1961, which lasted one week, was used in the compilation of a report on the future of the network. This report—The Reshaping of British Railways—was published by the BRB in March 1963 ("the Beeching Axe
Beeching Axe
The Beeching Axe or the Beeching Cuts are informal names for the British Government's attempt in the 1960s to reduce the cost of running British Railways, the nationalised railway system in the United Kingdom. The name is that of the main author of The Reshaping of British Railways, Dr Richard...

"). Its proposals were dramatic. A third of all passenger services and more than 4000 of the 7000 stations would close. Beeching, who is believed to have been the author of most of the report, set out some dire figures. One third of the network was carrying just 1% of the traffic. Of the 18,000 passenger coaches, 6,000 were said to be used only 18 times a year or less. Although maintaining them cost between £3m and £4m a year, they earned only about £0.5m.

Most of the closures were carried out between 1963 and 1970 (including a few that were not listed in the report). Some closures originally listed were not carried out. The closures transformed the railway. Freight in particular underwent a revolution as the Victorian network of thousands of small yards was progressively abolished in favour of comparatively few major terminals.

The closures were heavily criticised at the time, and continue to attract criticism today. Since privatisation, efforts have been made to re-open some of the lines closed under the Beeching program.

A second Beeching report, The Development of the Major Trunk Routes, followed in 1965. This did not recommend closures as such, but outlined a "network for development". The fate of the rest of the network was not discussed in the report.

Post-Beeching

The basis for calculating passenger fares changed in 1964. In future, fares on some routes—such as rural, holiday and commuter services—would be set at a higher level than on other routes; previously, fares had been calculated using a simple rate for the distance travelled, which at the time was 3d per mile second class, and 4½d per mile first class (equivalent to £ and £ respectively, as of ).
Passenger levels decreased steadily from the late 1950s to late 1970s, but experienced a renaissance with the introduction of the high-speed Intercity 125
InterCity 125
The InterCity 125 was the brand name of British Rail's High Speed Train fleet. The InterCity 125 train is made up of two power cars, one at each end of a fixed formation of Mark 3 carriages, and is capable of , making the train the fastest diesel-powered locomotive in regular service in the...

 trains in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Network improvements included completing electrification of the Great Eastern Main Line
Great Eastern Main Line
The Great Eastern Main Line is a 212 Kilometre major railway line of the British railway system, which connects Liverpool Street in the City of London with destinations in east London and the East of England, including Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich and several coastal resorts such as...

 from London to Norwich between 1976 and 1986 and the East Coast Main Line
East Coast Main Line
The East Coast Main Line is a long electrified high-speed railway link between London, Peterborough, Doncaster, Wakefield, Leeds, York, Darlington, Newcastle and Edinburgh...

 from London to Edinburgh between 1985 and 1990. A main line route closure during this period of relative network stability was the 1500V DC electrified Woodhead Line
Woodhead Line
The Woodhead Line was a railway line linking Sheffield, Penistone and Manchester in the north of England. A key feature of the route is the passage under the high moorlands of the northern Peak District through the Woodhead Tunnels...

, passenger service ceased in 1970 and goods in 1981.

The 1980s saw pressure to reduce government funding and above-inflation
Inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

 increases in fares. A further British Rail report, from a committee chaired by Sir David Serpell, was published in 1983. The Serpell Report
Serpell Report
The Serpell Report was produced by a committee chaired by Sir David Serpell, a senior civil servant. It was commissioned by the government of Margaret Thatcher to examine the state and long-term prospects of Great Britain's railway system. There were two main parts to the report. The first part...

 made no recommendations as such, but did set out various options for the network including, at their most extreme, a skeletal system of less than 2000 route km. This report was not welcomed, and even the government decided to quietly leave it on the shelf. Meanwhile, BR was gradually re-organised, with the regional structure finally being abolished and replaced with business-led sectors. This led to far greater customer focus, but was cut short in 1994 with the splitting up of BR for privatisation.

Upon sectorisation in 1982, the passenger sectors created were InterCity
InterCity (British Rail)
InterCity was introduced by British Rail in 1966 as a brand-name for its long-haul express passenger services ....

 (principal express services) and Network SouthEast
Network SouthEast
Network SouthEast was one of three passenger sectors of British Rail created in 1982. NSE principally operated commuter trains in the London area and inter-urban services in densely populated South East England, although the network reached as far west as Exeter...

 (mainly London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 commuter services). Provincial was responsible for all other passenger services, except in the metropolitan counties
Metropolitan county
The metropolitan counties are a type of county-level administrative division of England. There are six metropolitan counties, which each cover large urban areas, typically with populations of 1.2 to 2.8 million...

, where local services were managed by the Passenger Transport Executive
Passenger Transport Executive
In the United Kingdom, passenger transport executives are local government bodies which are responsible for public transport within large urban areas...

s. Regional Railways was one of the three passenger sectors of British Rail created in 1982 that existed until 1996, two years after privatisation
Privatisation of British Rail
The privatisation of British Rail was set in motion when the Conservative government enacted, on 19 January 1993, the British Coal and British Rail Act 1993 . This enabled the relevant Secretary of State to issue directions to the relevant Board...

. The sector was originally called Provincial. Regional Railways was the most subsidised (per passenger km) of the three sectors. Upon formation, its costs were four times its revenue
Revenue
In business, revenue is income that a company receives from its normal business activities, usually from the sale of goods and services to customers. In many countries, such as the United Kingdom, revenue is referred to as turnover....

.

The privatisation of British Rail

Between 1994 and 1997, British Rail was privatised
Privatisation of British Rail
The privatisation of British Rail was set in motion when the Conservative government enacted, on 19 January 1993, the British Coal and British Rail Act 1993 . This enabled the relevant Secretary of State to issue directions to the relevant Board...

. Ownership of the track and infrastructure passed to Railtrack
Railtrack
Railtrack was a group of companies that owned the track, signalling, tunnels, bridges, level crossings and all but a handful of the stations of the British railway system from its formation in April 1994 until 2002...

 on 1 April 1994; afterwards passenger operations were franchised to individual private-sector operators (originally there were 25 franchises); and the freight services sold outright (six companies were set up, but five of these were sold to the same buyer). The remaining obligations of British Rail were transferred to BRB (Residuary) Ltd.
BRB (Residuary) Ltd.
BRB Limited is the successor to the British Railways Board. It is a private company limited by shares, with 100% of the issued share capital owned by the Secretary of State for Transport.-Background:...


Network

The former BR network, with the trunk routes of the West Coast Main Line
West Coast Main Line
The West Coast Main Line is the busiest mixed-traffic railway route in Britain, being the country's most important rail backbone in terms of population served. Fast, long-distance inter-city passenger services are provided between London, the West Midlands, the North West, North Wales and the...

, East Coast Main Line
East Coast Main Line
The East Coast Main Line is a long electrified high-speed railway link between London, Peterborough, Doncaster, Wakefield, Leeds, York, Darlington, Newcastle and Edinburgh...

, Great Western Main Line
Great Western Main Line
The Great Western Main Line is a main line railway in Great Britain that runs westwards from London Paddington station to the west of England and South Wales. The core Great Western Main Line runs from London Paddington to Temple Meads railway station in Bristol. A major branch of the Great...

 and Midland Main Line
Midland Main Line
The Midland Main Line is a major railway route in the United Kingdom, part of the British railway system.The present-day line links London St...

, remains mostly unchanged since privatisation. Several lines have reopened and more are proposed, particularly in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 and Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 where the control of railway passenger services is devolved from central government. However, in England passenger trains have returned to Corby
Corby railway station
Corby railway station, owned by Network Rail and managed by East Midlands Trains , serves the town of Corby in Northamptonshire, England. The current station, opened on 23 February 2009, replaces an earlier one dating from 1879 and first closed in 1966 .Plans for the current station, built on a...

, Chandlers Ford, the reopened line to Aylesbury Vale Parkway
Aylesbury Vale Parkway railway station
Aylesbury Vale Parkway railway station is a railway station serving villages to the northwest of Aylesbury. It will also serve the Berryfields and Weedon Hill housing developments to the north of the town when these are completed. The station is served by Chiltern Railways and opened on 14 December...

 and there are numerous other proposals to restore services, such as Oxford-Milton Keynes/Aylesbury, Lewes-Uckfield
Wealden Line
Taking its name from its route through the chalk hills of the North and South Downs of the Weald, England, the Wealden Line is a partly abandoned double track railway line in East Sussex and Kent that connected Lewes with Tunbridge Wells, a distance of ....

 and Plymouth-Tavistock.

In Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government successfully supported the re-opening to passenger services, of the Vale of Glamorgan Line
Vale of Glamorgan Line
The Vale of Glamorgan Line is a commuter railway line in South Wales from Cardiff to Bridgend via Barry, Rhoose and Llantwit Major. There are also branch lines to Penarth and Barry Island. As its names suggests, the line runs through the Vale of Glamorgan....

 between Barry and Bridgend in 2005. In 2008 the Ebbw Valley Railway reopened between Ebbw Vale Parkway
Ebbw Vale Parkway railway station
Ebbw Vale Parkway railway station is the current terminus of the Ebbw Valley Railway. The station opened on 6 February 2008 when services to and from Cardiff Central commenced after 46 years of being a freight-only line...

 and Cardiff
Cardiff Central railway station
Cardiff Central railway station is a major railway station on the South Wales Main Line in Cardiff, Wales.It is the largest and busiest station in Wales and one of the major stations of the British rail network, the tenth busiest station in the United Kingdom outside of London , based on 2007/08...

, with services to Newport scheduled to commence by 2011. (The Barry-Bridgend route was included in the closures proposed in the Beeching report of March 1963 and its services were duly withdrawn in June 1964, but Ebbw Vale had already been closed to passengers before the report was published.)

In Scotland the Scottish Executive/Government have reinstated the lines between Hamilton and Larkhall, Stirling and Alloa
Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine rail link
The Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine rail link was a project to re-open of railway line between the towns of Stirling, Alloa and Kincardine in Scotland, United Kingdom. The route opened to rail traffic in March 2008.- Background :...

, and Airdrie to Bathgate
Airdrie-Bathgate Rail Link
The Airdrie-Bathgate Rail Link is a railway in central Scotland.Instigated as part of a round of transport improvement projects proposed by the then Scottish Executive in 2003, the plan was to open up a fourth direct railway link between the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. The project was...

. The biggest line reinstatment project is the former Waverley railway
Waverley Line
The Waverley Line is an abandoned double track railway line that ran south from Edinburgh in Scotland through Midlothian and the Scottish Borders to Carlisle in England. It was built by the North British Railway Company; the first section, from Edinburgh to Hawick opened in 1849. The final section,...

 Edinburgh to Borders line.

Ships

British Railways operated a number of ships from its formation in 1948 on a variety of routes. Many ships were acquired on nationalisation, and others were built for operation by British Railways or its later subsidiary, Sealink
Sealink
Sealink was a ferry company based in the United Kingdom from 1970 to 1984, operating services to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Channel Islands, Isle of Wight and Ireland....

. Those ships capable of carrying rail vehicles were classed under TOPS
TOPS
Total Operations Processing System, or TOPS, is a computer system for managing the locomotives and rolling stock owned by a rail system...

 as Class 99
British Rail Class 99
The British Rail Class 99 was a fleet of 14 ferries, mostly owned by Sealink, which carried rail vehicles between Britain and mainland Europe. When British Rail implemented the TOPS system for managing their operating stock, these ships were incorporated into the system in order to circumvent some...

.

Successor companies

Under the process of British Rail's privatisation, operations were split into more than 100 companies. The ownership and operation of the infrastructure of the railway system was taken over by Railtrack
Railtrack
Railtrack was a group of companies that owned the track, signalling, tunnels, bridges, level crossings and all but a handful of the stations of the British railway system from its formation in April 1994 until 2002...

.

The Telecomms infrastructure and British Rail Telecommunications
British Rail Telecommunications
In May 1837 William Fothergill Cooke and Professor Charles Wheatstone entered into a partnership, and on 10th June patented a five-needle telegraph for which five wires were necessary. The telegraph worked by deflecting any two of the needles at the same time to point to any one of 20 letters on...

 was sold to Racal
Racal
Racal Electronics plc was once the third-largest British electronics firm. Listed on the London Stock Exchange and once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index, Racal was a diversified company, offering products including: as voice and data recorders; point of sale terminals; laboratory instruments;...

, which in turn was sold to Global Crossing
Global Crossing
Global Crossing Limited was a telecommunications company that provides computer networking services worldwide. It maintained a large backbone and offered transit and peering links, VPN, leased lines, audio and video conferencing, long distance telephone, managed services, dialup, colocation and...

 and merged with Thales Group
Thales Group
The Thales Group is a French electronics company delivering information systems and services for the aerospace, defense, transportation and security markets...

.

The rolling stock was transferred to three private ROSCOs (ROlling Stock COmpanies). Passenger services were divided into 25 operating companies, which were let on a franchise basis for a set number of years, whilst freight services were sold off completely. Dozens of smaller engineering and maintenance companies were also created and sold off.

British Rail's passenger services came to an end upon the franchising of ScotRail
ScotRail
ScotRail was a brand name used for all Scottish regional and commuter rail services, including some cross-border services, from 1997 to 2004....

; the final train that the company operated was a Railfreight Distribution
Railfreight Distribution
Railfreight Distribution was a subsector of British Rail created by the division in 1987 of British Rail's previous Railfreight sector. It was responsible for non-trainload freight operations, as well as Freightliner and Intermodal services. In its early years the division was occasionally...

 freight train in Autumn 1997. The British Railways Board continued in existence as a corporation until early 2001, when it was replaced with the Strategic Rail Authority
Strategic Rail Authority
In existence from 2001 to 2006, the Strategic Rail Authority was a non-departmental public body in the United Kingdom set up under the Transport Act 2000 to provide strategic direction for the railway industry....

.

Since privatisation, the structure of the rail industry and number of companies has changed a number of times as franchises have been relet and the areas covered by franchises restructured. Franchise-based companies that took over passenger rail services include:
  • Midland Mainline
    Midland Mainline
    Midland Mainline was a British train operating company owned by the National Express Group and based in Derby. It was created after the privatisation of British Rail. Midland Mainline services operated from April 1996 to November 2007....

    —superseded in 2007 by East Midlands Trains
    East Midlands Trains
    East Midlands Trains is a British passenger train operating company. Based in Derby, it provides train services in the East Midlands, chiefly in the counties of Lincolnshire, South Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Northamptonshire, and between the East Midlands and London...

  • Great North Eastern Railway
    Great North Eastern Railway
    Great North Eastern Railway was a British train operating company, owned by Sea Containers Ltd. It operated high-speed express train services on the East Coast Main Line from 1996 until 9 December 2007 when the franchise was taken over by National Express East Coast.GNER's primary service routes...

    —superseded in 2007 by National Express East Coast
    National Express East Coast
    National Express East Coast was a train operating company in the United Kingdom, running high speed passenger services on the East Coast Main Line between London and Scotland, as part of the East Coast passenger franchise...

    , which has since been brought back full circle into public ownership with the creation of the new government controlled East Coast
    East Coast (train operating company)
    East Coast is a British train operating company running high-speed passenger services on the East Coast Main Line between London, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland...

     operator.
  • Virgin Trains
    Virgin Trains
    Virgin Trains is a train operating company in the United Kingdom. It operates long-distance passenger services on the West Coast Main Line between London, the West Midlands, North West England, North Wales and Scotland...

     (West Coast)
  • Virgin CrossCountry—superseded in 2007 by CrossCountry
    CrossCountry
    CrossCountry is the brand name of XC Trains Ltd., a British train operating company owned by Arriva...

  • ScotRail
    ScotRail
    ScotRail was a brand name used for all Scottish regional and commuter rail services, including some cross-border services, from 1997 to 2004....

     operated by National Express—superseded in 2004 by First ScotRail
    First ScotRail
    ScotRail Railways Ltd. is the FirstGroup-owned train operating company running domestic passenger trains within Scotland, northern England and the cross-border Caledonian Sleeper service to London using the brand ScotRail which is the property of the Scottish Government...

     (now branded as ScotRail—Scotland's Railway)
  • Great Western Trains
    Great Western Trains
    Great Western Trains was a UK train company created in the mid 1990s as part of the privatisation of British Rail. It was one of the first two passenger companies to be privatised, passing into private ownership along with South West Trains on 4 February 1996....

    —from 1998: First Great Western
    First Great Western
    First Great Western is the operating name of First Greater Western Ltd, a British train operating company owned by FirstGroup that serves Greater London, the South East, South West and West Midlands regions of England, and South Wales....

  • Wales and West
    Wales and West
    Wales & West was a British Train Operating Company that ran services from 1997 to 2001, and was one of the original 25 Train Operating Companies that were set up after the UK Rail Industry was privatised...

    —became Wessex Trains
    Wessex Trains
    Wessex Trains was the primary passenger rail operator in the South West of England. The company operated trains in the region bounded by Penzance, Cardiff, Gloucester, Worcester and Brighton...

     and Wales and Borders
    Wales and Borders
    Wales and Borders is the name of a franchise of train services covering Wales, the Welsh Marches and bordering counties of England.-History:The franchise was initially formed from part of the former Wales and West franchise and the Cardiff Railway Company , together with the lines from Shrewsbury...

     (including the Cardiff Railway Company services operated as Valley Lines) in 2001, after being split into two separate franchises, and now run by First Great Western
    First Great Western
    First Great Western is the operating name of First Greater Western Ltd, a British train operating company owned by FirstGroup that serves Greater London, the South East, South West and West Midlands regions of England, and South Wales....

     and Arriva Trains Wales
    Arriva Trains Wales
    Arriva Trains Wales is a train operating company, owned by Arriva, that operates urban and inter urban passenger services in Wales and the Welsh Marches...

  • Arriva Trains Northern
    Arriva Trains Northern
    Arriva Trains Northern was a train operating company that operated passenger trains in Yorkshire and the North East of England. The company had previously been known as Northern Spirit before being taken over by Arriva....

     (originally Northern Spirit
    Northern Spirit
    This article is about the railway company Northern Spirit. For the Australian football club of the same name, see Northern Spirit FC.Northern Spirit was a UK train operating company which ran local and regional train services in the north east of England during the late 1990s.-Operations:Created...

    )—superseded in 2004 by First TransPennine Express
    First TransPennine Express
    First TransPennine Express is a British train operating company. It is a joint operation between First Group and Keolis . It operates regular passenger services in northern England, including services linking the west and east coasts across the Pennines...

     and Northern Rail
    Northern Rail
    Northern Rail is a British train operating company that has operated local passenger services in Northern England since 2004. Northern Rail's owner, Serco-Abellio, is a consortium formed of Abellio and Serco, an international operator of public transport systems...

  • First North Western
    First North Western
    First North Western was a train operating company in the United Kingdom serving North West England. It operated from 1997 to 2004.The company when first privatised was known as North Western Trains and was owned by Great Western Holdings, a partnership between Great Western's management, First...

     (originally North Western Trains)—superseded in 2004 by First TransPennine Express
    First TransPennine Express
    First TransPennine Express is a British train operating company. It is a joint operation between First Group and Keolis . It operates regular passenger services in northern England, including services linking the west and east coasts across the Pennines...

     and Northern Rail
    Northern Rail
    Northern Rail is a British train operating company that has operated local passenger services in Northern England since 2004. Northern Rail's owner, Serco-Abellio, is a consortium formed of Abellio and Serco, an international operator of public transport systems...


  • Anglia Railways
    Anglia Railways
    Anglia Railways was a British train operating company, owned by GB Railways, which between 5 January 1997 and 31 March 2004 operated mainline trains out of London Liverpool Street station and a number of local rail services in East Anglia....

    , Great Eastern (later First Great Eastern
    First Great Eastern
    First Great Eastern was an award-winning train operating company that operated suburban, local and medium distance train services from London Liverpool Street via Romford to Essex and Ipswich in the United Kingdom on the Great Eastern Main Line railway.First Group gained the Great Eastern...

    ), and the West Anglia section of WAGN were all merged to become ONE later renamed National Express East Anglia
  • Thameslink
    Thameslink
    Thameslink is a fifty-station main-line route in the British railway system running north to south through London from Bedford to Brighton, serving both London Gatwick Airport and London Luton Airport. It opened as a through service in 1988 and by 1998 was severely overcrowded, carrying more than...

     and Great Northern Section of WAGN grouped together to form First Capital Connect
    First Capital Connect
    First Capital Connect is a passenger train operating company in England that began operations on the National Rail network on 1 April 2006...

     as part of the Thameslink Great Northern Franchise
  • LTS later renamed c2c
    C2c
    c2c is a British train operating company that is part of the National Express Group. It provides passenger rail services on the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway line from Fenchurch Street railway station in the City of London to east London and the entire length of the northern Thames Gateway...

  • Connex South Eastern
    Connex South Eastern
    Connex South Eastern was a train operating company in the United Kingdom. It was owned by the Connex Group and operated between 14 October 1996 and 9 November 2003. The company operated passenger services in South London and Kent...

     became South Eastern Trains
    South Eastern Trains
    South Eastern Trains was a British train operating company, in public ownership, that provided train services in south east London and South East England from 9 November 2003 to 31 March 2006....

    , then Southeastern
    Southeastern (train operating company)
    London & South Eastern Railway Limited, trading as Southeastern is a train operating company in south-east England. On 1 April 2006 it became the franchisee for the new Integrated Kent Franchise , replacing the publicly owned South Eastern Trains on the former South East Franchise...

  • Connex South Central
    Connex South Central
    Connex South Central was a short-lived train operating company in the United Kingdom. It was owned by the Connex Group, and operated under the Connex brand between October 1996 until mid-2001....

     became South Central and later renamed Southern
    Southern (train operating company)
    Southern is a train operating company in the United Kingdom. Officially named Southern Railway Ltd., it is a subsidiary of Govia, a joint venture between transport groups Go-Ahead Group and Keolis, and has operated the South Central rail franchise since October 2000 and the Gatwick Express service...

  • Merseyrail Electrics
    Merseyrail Electrics
    Merseyrail Electrics was the franchise holder of the Merseyrail service from 19 January 1997. The company was owned by MTL, who were also awarded the Northern Spirit franchise. MTL became bankrupt in 1999, and the franchise was handed to Arriva Trains Merseyside.-Fleet:-External links:*...

     for a period was called Arriva Trains Merseyside
  • South West Trains
    South West Trains
    South West Trains is a British train operating company providing, under franchise, passenger rail services, mostly out of Waterloo station, to the southwest of London in the suburbs and in the counties of Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset, Devon, Somerset, Berkshire, and Wiltshire and on the Isle of Wight...

  • Central Trains
    Central Trains
    Central Trains was one of the original 25 train operating companies to emerge from the break-up of British Rail between 1994 and 1997. The company operated local, urban and secondary express services across central England and Mid Wales.-Overview:...

    —divided in 2007 between London Midland
    London Midland
    London Midland is a train operating company in the United Kingdom. Legally named London and Birmingham Railway Ltd, it is a subsidiary of Govia, and has operated the West Midlands franchise since 11 November 2007....

    , CrossCountry
    CrossCountry
    CrossCountry is the brand name of XC Trains Ltd., a British train operating company owned by Arriva...

     and East Midlands Trains
    East Midlands Trains
    East Midlands Trains is a British passenger train operating company. Based in Derby, it provides train services in the East Midlands, chiefly in the counties of Lincolnshire, South Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Northamptonshire, and between the East Midlands and London...

  • London Underground
    London Underground
    The London Underground is a rapid transit system serving a large part of Greater London and some parts of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex in England...

     for the short underground Waterloo & City line
    Waterloo & City Line
    The Waterloo & City line is a short underground railway line in London, which was formally opened on 11 July 1898. It has only two stations, Waterloo and Bank...

  • Silverlink Trains—divided in 2007 between London Overground
    London Overground
    London Overground is a suburban rail network in London and Hertfordshire. It has been operated by London Overground Rail Operations since 2007 as part of the National Rail network, under the franchise control and branding of Transport for London...

     and London Midland
    London Midland
    London Midland is a train operating company in the United Kingdom. Legally named London and Birmingham Railway Ltd, it is a subsidiary of Govia, and has operated the West Midlands franchise since 11 November 2007....


See also

  • History of rail transport in Great Britain
    History of rail transport in Great Britain
    The railway system of Great Britain, the principal territory of the United Kingdom, is the oldest in the world. The system was originally built as a patchwork of local rail links operated by small private railway companies. These isolated links developed during the railway boom of the 1840s into a...

  • British Rail brand names
    British Rail brand names
    British Rail was the brand image of the nationalised railway owner and operator in Great Britain, the British Railways Board, used from 1965 until its breakup and sell-off from 1993 onwards....

  • British Rail corporate liveries
    British Rail corporate liveries
    The history of British Rail's corporate liveries is quite complex. Although from the mid 1960s to the 1980s the company was associated with "Rail Blue", a number of other schemes were also used, especially when the company was sectorised in the 1980s....

  • British Rail flying saucer
    British Rail flying saucer
    The British Rail flying saucer, officially known simply as space vehicle, was a proposed spacecraft designed by Charles Osmond Frederick.- Purpose :The flying saucer originally started as a proposal for a lifting platform...

  • British Rail sandwich
    British Rail sandwich
    In British humour, the phrase British Rail sandwich refers to sandwiches sold for consumption on passenger trains of the former British Rail...

  • British Carriage and Wagon Numbering and Classification
    British carriage and wagon numbering and classification
    A number of different numbering and classification schemes have been used for carriages and wagons on Britain's railways, and this page explains the principal systems...

  • British Rail locomotive and multiple unit numbering and classification
    British Rail locomotive and multiple unit numbering and classification
    A number of different numbering and classification schemes were used for locomotives and multiple units operated by British Railways , and this page explains the principal systems...

  • British Transport Police
    British Transport Police
    The British Transport Police is a special police force that polices those railways and light-rail systems in Great Britain for which it has entered into an agreement to provide such services...

  • Gerry Fiennes
    Gerry Fiennes
    Gerry Fiennes was a British railway manager who rose through the ranks of the London and North Eastern Railway and later British Rail following graduation from Oxford University.He joined the London and North Eastern Railway as a Traffic Apprentice in 1928, and his subsequent...

  • List of British Rail classes
  • List of companies operating trains in the United Kingdom
  • London Underground
    London Underground
    The London Underground is a rapid transit system serving a large part of Greater London and some parts of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex in England...

  • Glasgow Subway
    Glasgow Subway
    The Glasgow Subway is an underground metro line in Glasgow, Scotland. Opened on 14 December 1896, it is the third-oldest underground metro system in the world after the London Underground and the Budapest Metro. Formerly a cable railway, the Subway was later electrified, but its twin circular lines...

  • Tyne and Wear Metro
    Tyne and Wear Metro
    The Tyne and Wear Metro, also known as the Metro, is a light rail system in North East England, serving Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and Sunderland. It opened in 1980 and in 2007–2008 provided 40 million public journeys on its network of nearly...

  • Liverpool Overhead Railway
    Liverpool Overhead Railway
    The Liverpool Overhead Railway was the world's first electrically operated overhead railway. The railway was carried mainly on iron viaducts, with a corrugated iron decking, onto which the tracks were laid. It ran close to the River Mersey in Liverpool, England, following the line of Liverpool Docks...

  • Steam locomotives of British Railways
    Steam locomotives of British Railways
    The steam locomotives of British Railways were used by British Railways over the period 1948–1968. The vast majority of these were inherited from its four constituent companies, the "Big Four"....

  • Sealink
    Sealink
    Sealink was a ferry company based in the United Kingdom from 1970 to 1984, operating services to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Channel Islands, Isle of Wight and Ireland....

     BR's sea division
  • National Preservation
    National Preservation
    National Preservation is the trading name for Nat Pres Ltd, a British-based online company that specialises in retail and discussion among railway enthusiasts. The company was created on 25 June 2008 as an extension of the original National Preservation forum, which began on 10 March 2005, and has...

  • National Rail
    National Rail
    National Rail is a title used by the Association of Train Operating Companies as a generic term to define the passenger rail services operated in Great Britain...

  • Network Rail
    Network Rail
    Network Rail is the government-created owner and operator of most of the rail infrastructure in Great Britain .; it is not responsible for railway infrastructure in Northern Ireland...

  • Rail transport in Great Britain
    Rail transport in Great Britain
    The railway system in Great Britain is the oldest in the world, with the world's first locomotive-hauled public railway opening in 1825. As of 2010, it consists of of standard gauge lines , of which are electrified. These lines range from single to double, triple, quadruple track and up to twelve...

  • Privatisation of British Rail
    Privatisation of British Rail
    The privatisation of British Rail was set in motion when the Conservative government enacted, on 19 January 1993, the British Coal and British Rail Act 1993 . This enabled the relevant Secretary of State to issue directions to the relevant Board...

  • British Rail Telecommunications
    British Rail Telecommunications
    In May 1837 William Fothergill Cooke and Professor Charles Wheatstone entered into a partnership, and on 10th June patented a five-needle telegraph for which five wires were necessary. The telegraph worked by deflecting any two of the needles at the same time to point to any one of 20 letters on...

  • BRB (Residuary) Ltd.
    BRB (Residuary) Ltd.
    BRB Limited is the successor to the British Railways Board. It is a private company limited by shares, with 100% of the issued share capital owned by the Secretary of State for Transport.-Background:...


External links

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