90 Years of railway history

May 1926

General Strike brings Britain’s railways to a standstill over a period of 9 days

October 1926

South-eastern main line is electrified

1929

Nearly 300 route miles of Southern Railway is electrified

June 1935

The U.K.’s first streamlined train The Silver Jubilee makes a trial run from Kings Cross to Newcastle – travels at 100mph for over 40 miles

November 1936

Record run by LMS Pacific Princess Elizabeth from Euston to Glasgow; return journey was made at an average speed of 70 mph

1937

The Euston to Glasgow streamlined train The Coronation Scot becomes operational

July 1938

The Mallard A4 pacific loco No. 4468 sets the world speed record for steam traction reaching 126mph between Grantham and Peterborough

1939 World War II

the railways play a heroic part in the war effort. The network suffers massive damage with stations and depots heavily bombed. Railway workers performed huge sacrifices and great acts of heroism

1940

Railways vital to success of Dunkirk evacuation: 327 special trains move tens of thousands of soldiers from Channel ports

1944

Railways crucial to success of Operation Overlord, the invasion of mainland Europe and its liberation from Nazi rule

1945

The incoming Labour Government promises nationalisation of the railways

1947

Royal Assent given to the Transport Act to nationalise the railways

1948

Nationalisation comes into force and the railway split into London Midland, Eastern, Southern, Western, Eastern and Scottish regions

1951

The first BR standard design Locomotive enters service. Britannia was the first of 999 steam locomotives built in 12 classes

1954

Electrification of the Sheffield – Manchester via Woodhead Line

1955

BR Modernisation Plan: £12,000,000 investment announced for electrification and the introduction of diesel locomotives to replace steam

1957

Modernisation plan introduced with the introduction of the first diesel-electric locomotives

1960

Class 9F freight locomotive Evening Star No. 92220 the last BR steam locomotive is built at Swindon Works

1961

Dr Richard Beeching is made Chairman of British Transport Commission

1963

Publication of ‘The Beeching report’ – The Re-shaping of British Railways – heralds widespread closures

1965

British Railways becomes British Rail with new livery and logo

1966

Completion of London (Euston) to Liverpool and Manchester Electrification

August 1968

End of steam traction on BR

1968

Labour Transport Minister Barbara Castle introduces her Transport Bill which leads to formation of passenger transport executives

January 1969

The Waverley route between Edinburgh, Galashiels and Carlisle closes despite strenuous opposition

1973

The high speed era arrives with trial of the APT (advanced passenger train) and Inter-city 125 begin

1975

National Railway Museum opens in York

1976

High speed Inter-city 125 enters service between Euston Bristol and South Wales

1978

Inter-city 125s introduced on the East Coast Main Line

1982

British Rail structure is split into various section including Inter City and Railfreight

1983

Settle-Carlisle Line proposed for closure

1987

The Fixed Link Treaty is signed between the English and French Governments paving the way for construction of the Channel Tunnel

1985

Pacer and Sprinter diesel trains enter service

1984

Government gives go-ahead for electrification of East Coast Main Line (Kings Cross – Edinburgh)

May 1989

Settle-Carlisle Line is reprieved from closure after huge campaign including over 20,000 signatures (including one dog). The end of the period of major rail closures

1991

Electrification of the East Coast Main Line is complete: wires reach Edinburgh

1993

Conservative government publishes its Railways Bill which forms basis of privatisation of the railways

May 1994

The Channel Tunnel opens

July 1994

First privatised train runs – on South West Trains

September 1995

Completion of electrification of routes from Leeds to Skipton, Bradford Forster Square and Ilkley. Passenger numbers rocket

1996

Railtrack becomes a private firm and floats on the stock market with shares worth 360p

1998

The Robin Hood Line from Nottingham to Worksop re-opens and is an immediate success, helping regenerate former mining communities

October  2001

The government pulls the plug on Railtrack, putting the company into the hands of administrators. Shares are suspended at 280p. Network Rail – a not-for-profit company – will take over from Railtrack

January 2002

The Strategic Rail Authority unveils its 10-year strategic plan for the railways, including a £4.5bn investment in new trains, improved station facilities, track repair and signalling work

2004

Government publishes its Community Rail Development Strategy: offering strong support for community rail partnerships

2008

The railway to Ebbw Vale, closed to passengers in 1962, re-opens. Immediate success

2015

Borders Railway from Edinburgh to Galashiels and Tweedbank re-opens. Guest of honour is HM The Queen travelling on steam-hauled special train, greeted by thousands of spectators. Passenger numbers massively exceed expectations

90 Years of railway history