To me after watching this,Beechings proposal to cut the railways is easier to understand,he makes quite a good case.They were old,run down,inefficient,barely used and expensive to run,so it is reasonable that something had to be done to modernise them.
It is also understandable that the road network was seen as being the forward thinking answer to the country's transport needs.We look back now in an age of pollution and traffic jams and condemn Beeching's short sightedness,but back then the personal freedom of the open road and the ease that lorries were able to move freight around the country on the new roads and motorways,really did seem like the best choice.
There are however, flaws in Beeching's logic and things that are misleading or just don't add up.For starters,Beeching states in his film that one reason for scrapping the railways is that most people now use cars,but in fact in 1963 only 1 in 9 families had a car,hence when you see any old footage of motorways,they are usually almost ghostly empty compared with today.
In fact many of the branch lines were well used by the local people,but because these branch lines often served smaller rural communities,they weren't especially profitable.It is in fact quite likey,that a higher percentage of the population in a rural community used the trains compared to those in towns,as the roads and bus services if there were any,were often far worse in the countryside.
If you would like to read Beeching's Report or the National Union of Railwaymen's response to it,click on the appropiate cover below
Beeching also shows a lack of understanding of how the rail network worked.He views stations and lines as independent entities,when in fact regardless of size,they were all part of the same interdependent structure.The big stations and lines were like big rivers,they were only that size because of the much smaller tributaries that fed them.By removing the smaller lines you damaged the bigger lines.
He totally fails to consider the effect on local economies when calculating whether a line is profitable or not.Many small businesses depended on the railways for passing trade and tourism and many workers used the smaller lines to get to work.Overnight some businesses found that big chunks of their revenue were gone and workers no longer had a way of getting to work.
The social aspect of a local station was also totally lost on Beeching.Stations were a focus point for communities and a life line to the car-less and the elderly.From their small local stations,people could get to almost anywhere in the country however isolated their station was,which is an amazing asset to have.All gone.
It seems to me though,that the whole report was just a public relations exercise and the government knew what they wanted to happen before they got Beeching in. They only produced the report,because they knew how unpopular the changes were going to be and they wanted it to look like they were undecided and actually williing to listen to the public.
If they had intended for the report to be unbiased,they would have got someone with a better understanding of the railway to carry out the report.The fact that Beeching,who was not a fan of the railways and who had no background in that field was chosen,to me shows how the government wanted the report to turn out.