Beeching: 50 years on

    On 27 March 1963, British Railways Board published the report Reshaping Britain’s Railways. It led to the systematic closure of lines and stations, and transformed our railway network. The report was written by the then British Railways Chairman Dr Richard Beeching and the closures became known as the Beeching Axe.

    For many, Dr Beeching is a legendary enemy of the railways. His report closed many rural branchlines and left large areas of the country without access to rail transport. Others credit Dr Beeching with saving the bankrupt railways and turning them into a modern business by focusing on developments like InterCity services and the Freightliner initiative.

    We're marking 50 years since the publication of Reshaping Britain’s Railways with an exhibition, events and activities that explore the impact of the report and what it meant for our railways past, present and future.

    Our events

    Back on Track lecture and debate: London

    11 Mar, Science Museum Introduced by Michael Palin and hosted by Lord Adonis in association with Campaign for Better Transport, the lecture will focus on the UK’s raft of contemporary railway developments and explore the lessons learnt from the Beeching Report. More info

    Back on Track lecture and debate: York

    27 Mar, National Railway Museum Hosted by Campaign for Better Transport the lecture will focus on the UK’s community rail partnerships and explore the opportunities for reopening lines. More info

    Beeching 50 years on: the exhibition

    23 Mar–16 Jun, National Railway Museum This exhibition in our Art Gallery looks at the social impacts of the Beeching closures. A specially commissioned work by artist filmmaker Esther Johnson will provide a close-up of one of these local stories, the Waverley line which ran between Carlisle and Edinburgh. More info

    Related events around the UK

    Railway Ramblers heritage walk

    29 June 2013 A six-mile walk from Chippenham station to Calne along a disused rail route. Plus various walks across the UK on disused railway routes, led by experienced volunteers with in interest in industrial heritage. Railway Ramblers

    Off The Rails station event

    6 May 2013 The Essex & South Suffolk community rail partnership celebrate 150 years since Wivenhoe station in Essex opened, with a day of arts events. Off the rails

    Railfuture campaign railway walk

    TBC June A walk from Bedford to Sandy or Shefford. Railfuture

    Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line heritage walks

    Various Various free guided walks, no need to book. Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line

    ride2stride heritage walk

    30 April-6 May 2013 A week of walks, talks and music along the Settle-Carlisle railway line. ride2stride

    Railfuture: Uckfield-Lewes meeting

    4 April 2013 Railfuture is campaigning to develop a scheme for reinstating the rail link from Uckfield to Lewes. 6pm at Crown Inn, Lewes. Railfuture: Uckfield Lewes

    Uckfield railway station site image by Simon Carey, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike License 2.0

    Background: British Railways proposed withdrawal of passenger train services