The Reshaping of our Railways: 6. Exordium and Bus/Rail Terminus

The sixth and final part of East of the M60’s report on the effects of its area’s railways before, during and after the publication of The Reshaping of British Railways

Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar
‘Looks Like We’ve Made It!’ – people power has not only been instrumental in the successful restoration of Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar, but also the retention and expansion of existing rail services.

Increasingly so in my later years, I made more of my middle or long distance journeys by train. Besides my usual station, which was unaffected by The Reshaping of British Railways, all the other stations I’ve used would have been. It is incredible to think that three quarters of Tameside’s rail services would have been affected had the report’s recommendations been fully implemented. Continue reading “The Reshaping of our Railways: 6. Exordium and Bus/Rail Terminus”

The Reshaping of our Railways: 5. Poll Tax on Wheels

The fifth part of East of the M60’s report on the effects of its area’s railways before, during and after the publication of The Reshaping of British Railways

Stalybridge Station and Class 185
Recent developments since privatisation has seen some improvement to our area’s railways, though none of this wouldn’t be possible without the continued efforts of passengers, local authorities and Passenger Transport Executives. Seen here is 185124 on the 1326 from Stalybridge railway station to Scarborough.

The start of the 1990s saw the arrival of new air conditioned diesel trains, more different liveries and the dawn of the Metrolink. On a sadder note for some enthusiasts, most signs of the 1960s – early 1980s British Rail was being phased out. Before long, the Rail Blue livery wouldn’t be the only thing to go. British Rail itself would follow. In our area, it seemed as if the Stockport to Stalybridge service and Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar would follow suit. Instead, the Stockport to Stalybridge service carried on, in spite of a 13,000 strong petition against its withdrawal. Following the petition, it would remain in operation – albeit once a week in one direction only! Continue reading “The Reshaping of our Railways: 5. Poll Tax on Wheels”

The Reshaping of our Railways: 4. The Crumbling Edge of Quality?

The fourth part of East of the M60’s report on the effects of its area’s railways before, during and after the publication of The Reshaping of British Railways

Class 150 Sprinter, 150274, Poulton-le-Fylde
The 1980s would, among things, be remembered for the launch of second generation DMUs and the opening of new railway stations among Greater Manchester rail users. Seen here in 2011 at Poulton-le-Fylde station is 150274, on an all-stations service to Blackpool North.

In 1983, 20 years on from The Reshaping of British Railways, Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government won a second term with a Commons Majority of 144. Their aim was to ‘get rid of socialism’ forever, which in short hand would mean the privatisation of public services. British Rail too wasn’t immune to the spectre of privatisation; though the 1993 Railways Act would follow ten years later, BR was ordered to divest itself of non-core trading interests. These concerns, since the Victorian times, were part and parcel of the railways’ expansion. They were shown no mercy. Continue reading “The Reshaping of our Railways: 4. The Crumbling Edge of Quality?”

The Reshaping of our Railways: 3. All This, Rail Blue and Rationalisation Too

The third part of East of the M60’s report on the effects of its area’s railways before, during and after the publication of The Reshaping of British Railways

BR Mark II 2nd Class carriage interior
For many passengers, the public face of 1970s British Rail involved a Mark 2 carriage such as this TSO (Tourist Second Open) example on the East Lancashire Railway between Heywood and Bury (photographed more recently in 2010, alas). By then, Rail Blue was everywhere.

A new decade enabled British Rail to make a fresh start. Two years earlier, they got rid of steam by means of a send off one August through Manchester Victoria railway station. The 1948 vintage British Railways signs were gradually replaced by the Design Research Unit’s works with black Transport font on a minimalist background. It looked clean, pretty much a byproduct of Harold Wilson’s ‘white heat of technology’. By the 1970s, minimalism would soon be extended to its railway stations. The reason was more to do with cost cutting instead of a clamour for more modernism. Even so, it led to the survival of some services. Continue reading “The Reshaping of our Railways: 3. All This, Rail Blue and Rationalisation Too”

The Reshaping of our Railways: 2. The Axemen Cameth

The second part of East of the M60’s report on the effects of its area’s railways before, during and after the publication of The Reshaping of British Railways

Bubble Car and MetCam Shuttle
By the late 1960s, Rail Blue was starting to supplant its various liveries. This example seen above was photographed in 2010 on a Bury Bolton Street – Heywood shuttle service.

For some commentators, the railway was slow, dirty, unreliable and apart from some instances, unprofitable. It was seen as labour intensive, but the sound of steam or the purr of diesel multiple units on quiet stretches added a sense of rhythm. Therefore, their future was veered towards the Thunderbirds style of Forton motorway services; the joy of unfettered motoring and not having to govern journeys by bus or rail times. For them, it was the sense of freedom and enhanced personal space which made a Ford Anglia more seductive than sharing a carriage with a few strangers. Continue reading “The Reshaping of our Railways: 2. The Axemen Cameth”

The Reshaping of our Railways: 1. Before Beeching

East of the M60 on the effects of its area’s railways before, during and after the publication of The Reshaping of British Railways

Class 101 DMU, Bury Bolton Street
A Metro-Cammell bodied Class 101 DMU. Photographed in 2009, few would have thought 47 years ago that Bury Bolton Street would lose its DMU service to Rawtenstall, let alone its reopening in 1987 (and Rawtenstall railway station’s 1991 reopening) by the East Lancashire Railway.

Today, train travel east of the M60 motorway (in spite of gripes about old rolling stock and ticket prices) is more popular than ever. Along with the Metrolink, our local services and inter-city routes lessen the load on our area’s arterial roads, and of the M60 motorway itself. Continue reading “The Reshaping of our Railways: 1. Before Beeching”