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Author Topic: How rails to Marylebone were nearly lost  (Read 284 times)
grahame
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« on: April 09, 2019, 06:20:40 pm »

Researching this afternoon, I came across the history of the proposals to turn the old Great Central railway out of Marylebone into an express bus way, and the documentation of the "Railway Conversion League".

Overview of what happened:
https://www.londonreconnections.com/2014/near-terminal-case-saving-marylebone-rail-road-conversion/

Quote
Looking at the frequent services operated today by Chiltern Railways, it seems hard to believe that the rail lines into Marylebone were once seriously considered for closure. Yet back in the mid-1980s under-utilization of the route led to proposals to convert the line into a dedicated bus route, with the site of Marylebone station being converted into a bus station, or sold off to raise an estimated 10 million. Today this proposal and others like it such as a plan to convert much of what now forms London Overground north of the river into roads are mostly forgotten. Yet for a time the possibility was very real, and London may have been left with a rail landscape very different from that which exists today.

Some of the papers:
http://www.transport-watch.co.uk/topic-7-archive-railway-conversion-league-1958-1994
http://www.transport-watch.co.uk/sites/default/files/Twilight%20of%20the%20Railways%20-%20What%20roads%20they%20will%20make%20Brigadier%20Lloyd.pdf
http://www.transport-watch.co.uk/sites/default/files/The%20Conversion%20of%20Railways%20in%20to%20Roads%20in%20the%20United%20Kingdom%20The%20League%201970%20providing%20many%20examples.pdf

And a note of how things have changed ... can you imagine this lot as buses? ...

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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2019, 08:20:21 pm »

Researching this afternoon, I came across the history of the proposals to turn the old Great Central railway out of Marylebone into an express bus way, and the documentation of the "Railway Conversion League".

Overview of what happened:
https://www.londonreconnections.com/2014/near-terminal-case-saving-marylebone-rail-road-conversion/

Quote
Looking at the frequent services operated today by Chiltern Railways, it seems hard to believe that the rail lines into Marylebone were once seriously considered for closure. Yet back in the mid-1980s under-utilization of the route led to proposals to convert the line into a dedicated bus route, with the site of Marylebone station being converted into a bus station, or sold off to raise an estimated 10 million. Today this proposal and others like it such as a plan to convert much of what now forms London Overground north of the river into roads are mostly forgotten. Yet for a time the possibility was very real, and London may have been left with a rail landscape very different from that which exists today.

Some of the papers:
http://www.transport-watch.co.uk/topic-7-archive-railway-conversion-league-1958-1994
http://www.transport-watch.co.uk/sites/default/files/Twilight%20of%20the%20Railways%20-%20What%20roads%20they%20will%20make%20Brigadier%20Lloyd.pdf
http://www.transport-watch.co.uk/sites/default/files/The%20Conversion%20of%20Railways%20in%20to%20Roads%20in%20the%20United%20Kingdom%20The%20League%201970%20providing%20many%20examples.pdf

And a note of how things have changed ... can you imagine this lot as buses? ...



That's been sittng there for some years, and there is also a comments page that has unfortunately been partially deleted or weeded. I say unfortunately because there were some comments there from someone who worked in the Department of Transport in the Thatcher years, and gave some very interesting insight into the way the government was thinking and working at the time.

One example I particularly remember was the government's plan to "break the monopoly of the railways" in commuter traffic. Amongst other pilot schemes, an express bus service had been introduced between Windsor, Slough and London. After a suitable period of data collection it was found that it didn't make any appreciable difference to the railway's loadings.

The Minister responsible was alleged to have said: "I don't want this research - bring me some research that shows that my plan has been a success." Tells you all you need to know, doesn't it...

As I have often said, don't watch "Yes Minister" as a sitcom - watch it as a humorous documentary Wink

(odditied for teepees)
« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 09:55:57 am by Robin Summerhill » Logged
Red Squirrel
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« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2019, 12:15:41 pm »

Googling the Railway Conversion League, I found this comment piece by Dominic Lawson, from as recently as December 2000:

Quote
A FORTNIGHT ago I proposed what I thought was a novel solution to the country's twin problem of superannuated railways and overcrowded roads: rip up all the rail tracks and convert them into highways for coaches. As so often, however, our readers know much, much more than the Editor.

[...]

Mrs Lorna Dalgleish wrote to me pointing out that what I had suggested "was something my husband and a group of likeminded people advocated for many years". She sent me a number of handsomely produced booklets, dating from the Sixties and Seventies, which were submitted to the governments of the day by an organisation called "The Railway Conversion League" (motto: "Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come").

[...]

Alas, Mrs Dalgleish's letter also informed me that "my husband died six years ago and The Railway Conversion League has folded". But perhaps a fresh champion will emerge to dust off this mothballed vision of a better future for all commuters.

Source: The Telegraph

I'd like to be able to say 'Quieter than the shuffle of tiny mice is an idea whose time has passed', but I'm not sure it has, entirely... c.f. Cambridgeshire Guided Busway.
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Lee
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« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2019, 12:35:09 pm »

One does rather have to play "Whack-a-Mole" with this sort of thing from time to time. Examples:

2004

2015

Going further with the latter link towards full rail to road conversion in the capital may well require a whole new entity to be created - My money is on Roads for London (RofL)...
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2019, 12:58:55 pm »

...or maybe Roads for London Metropolitan Traffic Organisation, or RofLMTO?
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