British Railways 1946

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British Railways 1946

Postby philipmartin » Mon Apr 24, 2017 4:32 am

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Re: British Railways 1946

Postby george matthews » Tue Apr 25, 2017 5:52 am

The railways in 1945 were in a terrible state. The war years had been very damaging. First there was actual bomb damage. German attacks damaged the system from time to time. Repairs to the track and stations were not of best quality. Secondly the trains were worn out from intensive use. Thirdly steel for new rails was not always available because weapons had priority. New carriages were not being built. Troops were moved in large quantities, taking carriages out of availability for "normal" use. Tanks and other military supplies were carried to places where the infrastructure had not been prepared. In many areas rails were worn and speeds had to be kept low.

I can remember a long trip by train in 1944 - from the London area to my mother's relatives near Glasgow. The journey was at night but the "sleeper" was in fact a normal carriage slightly modified. I am reasonably sure that the journey took much longer than it would nowadays. I can remember lying on what was clearly a normal seat being used as a bed.

The war had interrupted a period of modernisation that in the 1930s had intended to see a large investment in electrification and a phasing out of steam. No investment of that sort took place until the late 1950s. Note that electrification was the natural choice as it did not need imported oil.

There was a general recognition that steam was unsatisfactory for all the reasons that have been mentioned here from time to time. But the needs of the war had prevented further extension of electric traction. The Southern third rail system continued but was not extended. Few other electric sections existed. There were a few that had been installed in the 1930s almost always as experimental systems to assess their suitability. (These have all been phased out now.) The next stage would have been in the 1940s if war had not occurred.

There is nothing romantic about the persistence of steam into the 1950s. It was simply the lack of money for investment caused by the war and the aftermath.

The postponement of electrification until the 1960s had the useful effect of adopting a much better system than was being proposed in the 1930s. We can compare this with the electrification in the US where many of the existing electrified lines are stuck with out of date, inefficient electrical systems, which should have been modified to international standards in the post-war years.
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Re: British Railways 1946

Postby philipmartin » Tue Apr 25, 2017 6:35 pm

Thank you for telling us about England during and shortly after the war years. I suppose that all the European belligerents suffered similarly, although my impression is that Germany got more of a pasting than the UK. I was ten in 1945, in New York, and for me there was no war. Life was normal, just as it is today. We had a little rationing, but that didnt bother me. U-boat commanders appreciated our keeping our shores lit up as normal so that they could pick out the silhouettes of merchant ships.
We North Americans won't be as lucky next time.
I understand that Amtrak was going to upgrade its former PRR electrification to 25kv. So NJ Transit upgraded its former Lackanawa electrification to 25kv, and then Amtrak didn't do it.
Last edited by philipmartin on Wed Apr 26, 2017 4:36 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: British Railways 1946

Postby george matthews » Tue Apr 25, 2017 7:16 pm

philipmartin wrote:Thank you for telling us about England during and shortly after the war years. I suppose that all the European belligerents suffered similarly, although my impression is that Germany got more of a pasting than the UK. I was ten in 1945, in New York, and for me there was no war. Life was normal, just as it is today. We had a little rationing, but that didnt bother me. U-boat commanders appreciated us keeping our shores lit up as normal. We North Americans won't be as lucky next time.
I understand that Amtrak was going to upgrade its former PRR electrification to 25kv. So NJ Transit upgraded its former Lackanawa electrification to 25kv, and then Amtrak didn't do it.

Clearly Amtrak and other American railways would benefit by standardising on up to date electrical systems. And for the benefits of world ecology they should phase out the oil driven locomotives and install far more electrics, as was done in the Soviet Union - just to remind Americans that long distance electrification is possible. If the trans-Siberian can be electrified there is no American line where it would be impossible. Moreover if electric lines were much more extensive it would be suitable to phase out trains with separate locomotives and replace them with trains where wheels are powered throughout the whole length of the train. In most European countries locomotives as such are becoming rarer for passenger trains.
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Re: British Railways 1946

Postby David Benton » Wed Apr 26, 2017 2:09 am

I think the railway modernization plan was made in 1955, which ties in with George's timeline. Or was that Dr.Beeching's infamous plan??? perhaps they were interwoven.
Yesterday was ANZAC day (our rememberance day )here, and while I will always honour the men (mostly in those days)that served, and especially those that died, I can't help but think what a terrible waste war is . Aside from the human suffering, the European railways took 15 years to basically get back to where they were before the war. And then the improvements came in the sixties, with high speed (100 - 125 mph )coming in the seventies.
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Re: British Railways 1946

Postby johnthefireman » Wed Apr 26, 2017 2:44 am

David Benton wrote:I can't help but think what a terrible waste war is


Absolutely. I have spent most of the last 35 years living and working in a nation at war, and it is indeed a terrible waste at every level. Violence is still seen by far too many nations, groups and individuals as an acceptable method of resolving difficult problems. That mindset needs to be changed and a great deal more time, energy, thought and resources need to be devoted to exploring nonviolent methods of resolving conflicts, so that violence really does become an exceptional last resort after all other means have been exhausted (which in fact is one of the classic criteria for a "just war" but which is rarely observed).

And yes, I fully agree with you that we need to honour those who took part in, and lived and died through, war (not only the soldiers - in modern warfare civilian casualties have far oustripped the military). In UK it is done on Armistice Day, at 11 o'clock on the 11th day of the 11th month. Remembering them should inspire us to seek nonviolent solutions to problems. Unfortunately it doesn't appear to do so - almost a hundred years after the ending of "the war to end wars", there are still active violent conflicts going on all over the globe.

Apologies if this is off topic, but on the other hand it is a direct reponse to the Moderator! And it's a big part of my daily life and work, both at an experiential/practical and theoretical level.
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Re: British Railways 1946ttle off

Postby philipmartin » Wed Apr 26, 2017 3:25 am

It sounds as though you are living dangerously, John. I wish you well.
That First World War strikes me as crazy, a war for no good reason. And that the US went into it also strikes me as crazy. Woodrow Willson may have been a little off mentally.
But to look at the bright side, if there had been no WWII, there might not have been any Kriegsloks. What's a loss that would have been.
As for EMUs being the best kind of passenger train, that may be, but personally I rather look at a train with a loco in it somewhere.
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Re: British Railways 1946ttle off

Postby johnthefireman » Wed Apr 26, 2017 4:59 am

philipmartin wrote:As for EMUs being the best kind of passenger train, that may be, but personally I rather look at a train with a loco in it somewhere.


I definitely think EMUs are better than DMUs, where you get the engine noise and vibration in all (or most) of the vehicles. But it is nice to see a loco at one end of the train!
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Re: British Railways 1946

Postby george matthews » Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:53 am

David Benton wrote:I think the railway modernization plan was made in 1955, which ties in with George's timeline. Or was that Dr.Beeching's infamous plan??? perhaps they were interwoven.
Yesterday was ANZAC day (our rememberance day )here, and while I will always honour the men (mostly in those days)that served, and especially those that died, I can't help but think what a terrible waste war is . Aside from the human suffering, the European railways took 15 years to basically get back to where they were before the war. And then the improvements came in the sixties, with high speed (100 - 125 mph )coming in the seventies.

Beeching came after. First, British Rail started building and ordering diesels. Actually the very first thing they had done was to build a lot of steam locomotives to new standardised designs. These were to replace the locos worn out during the war when very few new ones had been built. There was an immediate and urgent shortage of power. They then ordered a large number of different types of diesels, many of which proved unsatisfactory. They began planning some electrification, but that went rather slowly. The early electrifications tended to be of lower voltage than the present. I remember the lines from Fenchurch Street and Liverpool Street to Southend which had overhead but at a low voltage. Partly I think they were tests of what was possible. Of course the higher voltage electrification needed more modification of overhead bridges and tunnels, whereas the lower voltage could often leave bridges unmodified. Some of the new electrifications were to the Southern third rail system - again to eliminate the steam sections.

Then came the demand to reduce the network because of the mounting cost of the new trains and systems. And by the time of the late 1950s it became obvious that the number of road passenger cars was increasing rapidly so that demand for rail travel was decreasing. Beeching was told to plan a reduction of the network. He eliminated many of the rural branches and several main lines.

But thanks to increased efficiency quite a lot of the network has survived - unlike in the US where huge amounts were lost. And the network that does exist is far more efficient than the pre-war system. Demand continues to grow and the need is felt to reopen some of the lines that were closed in the 1950s and 60s.

The most important change was the elimination of steam. This in itself caused a huge increase in efficiency and reduction of cost - not to mention the health benefits which themselves were huge.

I do not look back on the age of steam with any good feelings. I am glad the steam locomotives have gone, and am pleased that the air is cleaner. Now that London taxis are converting to electric will the current steam fanatics start bemoaning the disappearance of the glorious diesel of the soon to be past? I wouldn't be surprised. The air must be made cleaner.
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Re: British Railways 1946

Postby philipmartin » Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:49 pm

I enjoy your information about the rail situation in the UK before Beeching . The same diminution of rail lines happened in the US for economic reasons. We didn't need Dr. Beeching. Doctor dollar sign did it. The last paragraph is your usual boilerplate.
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