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Branch Line Britain (Hardback)

Local Passenger Trains in the Diesel Era

Photographic Books Transport > Trains & Railways

By Paul D Shannon
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 152
ISBN: 9781399089906
Published: 3rd October 2023


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This book examines in words and pictures the network of British branch lines and other secondary routes that survived the mass closures of the 1960s. While nearly 4,000 route miles were lost between 1963 and 1970, the cuts were less severe than they might have been. Some lines were reprieved because of their social importance, even though they would never pay their way in purely commercial terms. They included some lengthy rural routes, such as those serving the Far North of Scotland, Central Wales and the Cumbrian Coast, as well as some urban backwaters such as Romford to Upminster and the St Albans Abbey branch. As the 1970s progressed, closures became scarce, but cost-cutting measures included the singling of some lines as well as scaled-down stations and simplified signalling. Yet even today, some pockets of traditional operation survive. Mechanical signal boxes still control many hundreds of miles across the network, in areas as diverse as West Cornwall, East Lincolnshire and South West Scotland. This book also celebrates several reopened and new lines, ranging from the major Borders Railway project in Scotland to the Stansted Airport and Barking Riverside branches in South East England - making the point that the branch line concept is far from dead.

"This book is highly recommended to those interested in the modern branch line scene."

The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society - The Railway Observer, March 2024, Volume 94, Number 1141

"...if you would like to 'wallow' in the rural delights of ageing dmus and loco-hauled trains of 40 or 50 years ago, this is for you or a friend."

National Railway Museum Review – The Journal of the Friends of the National Railway Museum – No186, Winter 2023/24

"Celebrating modern-day branch lines."

Heritage Rail Magazine

As featured in

The Phoenix (RVR) Issue 106

"Overall this book is a good overview of the lines affected by the 1963 report, with some excellent photographs."

London and North Western Society

"While books on Branch Lines are numerous this one captures the wide variety of DMUs & EMUs used across the UK while offering optimism for the continuing reopening of more lines in the future."

The Dartmoor Railway Volunteers Group at Okehampton Station - Winter 2023/24

"A perfect Christmas gift for our members."

Branch Line News

"This book contains useful background information about services in different parts of the country."

Welsh Railways Research Circle Newsletter No.175, Autumn 2023

"An interesting book looking at modern day British branch lines and other secondary routes that have survived the mass closures of the 1960s. Many colour photographs (mainly taken by the author) give this book a real feeling for what is left and, even though the old delightful steam pulled branch lines are now a thing of the past, this book shows that today's branch lines can still hold that certain charm for the enthusiasts."

Branch Line and Light Railway Publications

About Paul D Shannon

Paul Shannon has been a keen follower of the railway scene since the early 1970s. Alongside his career in education he developed particular interests in railway infrastructure and rail freight. He has visited most parts of the railway network and photographed the lines, stations, depots, yards, freight terminals and signalling that make it possible to run trains from A to B. He has written many magazine articles and video scripts as well as compiling over 30 books on varied railway topics.

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