Doctor Richard Beeching was not responsible for every post-war railway closure. More than three thousand route miles had been lost in the 14 years preceding his notorious report. But he has become the symbol of that contraction, and arguably a fall-guy for it.
How did we get from a network of more than 23,000 route miles to one of barely ten thousand? The story is one of vested interests, political pressure, scheming and ignorance. Practical consequences were felt in communities up and down the land. There was genuine hardship. And some would argue that the industry - and country - is still suffering for the decisions taking fifty years ago.