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Fifty years since Dr Beeching axed East Lancashire railway stations
10:00pm Monday 11th March 2013 in News
IT is almost 50 years since the infamous Dr Beeching produced his report that saw miles of East Lancashire’s railway lines axed.
And campaigners said the former chairman of the British Railways Board was still very much seen as a villain following his 1963 report.
Richard Beeching was assigned to his post in March 1961 and tasked with sorting out the huge problems on the country’s railway network.
His Reshaping of British Railways called for the closure of a third of the country’s 7,000 railway stations and withdrawing passenger services from about 5,000 miles of tracks.
The move, it was predicted at the time, would save £18million per year.
In East Lancashire, four routes were lost due to the Beeching Report. They were:
- East Lancashire Railway
- Colne to Manchester Victoria
- Earby to Barnoldswick
- Rose Grove to Todmorden
The Skipton to Colne line survived the Beeching axe but went on to close in January 1970. Campaign group SELRAP (Skipton East Lancashire Rail Partnership) has been fighting for years to have the stretch of railway reopened.
Stephen Martin, chairman of Save The East Lancashire Line Association (STELLA) said Dr Beeching’s legacy was still felt 50 years on. He said: “People still haven’t forgiven him. He is still not a very well liked man, nobody has a good word to say about him.
“He had a huge impact on East Lancashire. I think we caught the brunt of it. But if he hadn’t done it when he did, would the lines have gone by now anyway?
“They might have stayed open for a bit longer, but would probably have faced the axe anyway.”
The East Lancashire Railway reopened in July 1987 thanks to volunteers, with four miles of the track taking passengers between Bury and Ramsbottom.
Now it runs for 12 miles, from Heywood to Rawtenstall, and a further extension to Castleton is being explored, with the possiblity of linking it in with National Rail services also being investigated.
Mr Martin said despite the cuts 50 years ago, the East Lancashire Railway was now thriving. He said: “They are looking into getting it reconnected to the mainline.
“It is the only preserved railway that runs during the week when the markets are on in Bury and Rawtenstall.”
And the recent announcement that Todmorden Curve is to be reinstated, providing a direct line between Burnley and Manchester, has also been welcomed.
Mr Martin said: “At least we are getting Todmorden Curve put back in.
“That is probably the only bit of good news the railways in East Lancashire have had for a number of years.”