Beeching 60 Years since the Axeman
By Robin Jones
Described as the most hated civil servant in Britain, it was 60 years ago that Dr Richard Beeching was appointed as chairman of British Railways with one key directive - to cut the organisation's soaring losses. The 1950s had seen the start of a mass shift from public to private transport, with lorries, cars, buses and motorbikes replacing trains as Britain’s most popular means of travel. Was Dr Beeching the villain of popular legend - or was he a hero who made Britain’s railways into a slimmer, leaner machine far more capable of tackling the challenges of the future? Heritage Railway editor Robin Jones takes a detailed look at Beeching's legacy and reviews his decisions in light of recent developments, such as the cancellation of HS2 Phase 2. Beeching: 60 Years Since the Axeman is fully illustrated throughout and provides a fresh look at one of the most controversial periods in the history of Britain's railways.