Eastern Region of British Railways


Eastern Region of British Railways

The Eastern Region was a region of British Railways from 1948. The region ceased to be an operating unit in its own right in the 1980s and was wound-up at the end of 1992. Together with the North Eastern Region (which it absorbed in 1967), it covered most lines of the former London and North Eastern Railway, except in Scotland.

History

The services of the region had mostly been part of the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) until the railways were nationalised in 1948. Of all the "Big Four" pre-nationalisation railway companies, the LNER was most in need of significant investment. In the immediate post-war period there was a need to rebuild the destroyed stations in London and along the busy East Coast Main Line and former Great Central Railway. Additionally, the LNER had begun a suburban electrification programme which the British Transport Commission was pledged to continue.

Partially for this reason, the former LNER was broken in the Eastern and North Eastern regions (plus the Scottish region for lines in that country) to focus investment. When the regions were reorganised in the 1960s, the North Eastern was merged with the Eastern region.

After the formation of the enlarged Eastern Region, the former Great Central lines were transferred to the London Midland Region and the Eastern became one of the regions most affected by the Beeching Axe, losing route miles in every county served and seeing the closure of previously important (but now "duplicate") lines such as Harrogate to Northallerton via Ripon.

Network

The main routes were:
*Liverpool Street station and the former GER eastern mainline to Shenfield, Colchester and Harwich in Essex, Norwich in Norfolk and Ipswich and Felixstowe in Suffolk.
*Liverpool Street station and the former GER western mainline to Cambridge and King's Lynn (Norfolk).
*King's Cross railway station to Stevenage in Hertfordshire and Peterborough in Cambridgeshire.
*Fenchurch Street railway station to Basildon (from 1974), Southend and Shoeburyness.

The lines were managed as the Great Northern (Kings Cross services) and the Great Eastern (Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street services), with the regional headquarters at 55 Liverpool Street.

Commuter services via the North London Line were also run into Broad Street station, but these were slowly run down and diverted to other destinations, with the station eventually being closed in 1986.

Electrification

The Region continued the LNER's programme of electrification, using the then-standard 1500V overhead DC system, in the London suburbs, allowing for the removal of steam services from Essex by the mid-1950s, and on the busy Woodhead route between Manchester and Sheffield. The original plan had called for the eventual electrification of most of the LNER, and the Eastern Region sought to continue this policy as part of the 1955 Modernisation Plan. However, the British Transport Commission felt that many Eastern Region routes would not benefit from this; indeed, many of the rural lines proposed for electrification were in fact closed entirely by Dr Beeching. Instead, the Eastern Region had to content itself with being an early adopter of diesel-electric power, replacing steam at the earliest opportunity.

The premier East Coast Main Line was not electrified throughout until the late 1980s, by which time the Eastern Region had been abolished with the coming of sectorisation.

References

* Ball, MG. "British Railways Atlas" Ian Allan Publishing 2004
* Dudley, G. "Why Does Policy Change? - Lessons from British Transport Policy 1945-99" Routledge 2001
* Daniels, G and Dench, LA. "Passengers No More" 2nd edition; Ian Allan Publishing 1973


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