The railway system in the UK by the 1950s was in dire need of reform - it was outdated, and much was non-productive - serving areas where the industry which had once needed it had declined etc.
Dr Richard Beeching, member of a previous transport commission, was employed by the government in the early 1960s to produce a report on the subject. His report recommended significant line closures, the development of a bus network to compensate for the closures and the development of a railfreight system.
The closures were carried out to some extent, but incompletely for various reasons - there was much protest at the closures (it is said that one line was saved because it ran through too many marginal constituencies), savings were less than expected (not least because transport shifted to roads for the whole journey rather than to the nearest station) and the cuts were seen as flawed, while population distribution has changed. A number of the routes have since reopened.
In this timeline the analysis of rail transport patterns was taken over a much longer period (thus taking holidays and other usages into consideration). Use is made of the latest computers (the LEO III and others), and a transport-usage net was produced that showed that the 'map' was rather different to that shown by ticket and other purchases. Partially in light of this publich road transport is duly funded: and, despite Dr Beeching's insistence upon stringent cuts to the network, a significant mileage is saved. The disputes arising were, however to continue until the next election - in which protest votes against local closures played a significant role.
The Wikipedia article is at : the report (in two volumes) can be found at the Railway Archives website.
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