1971 – February – Same old problems?

The 1971 editions of Railway Magazine have some familiar articles.

Alleviating Borough Market

Fundamental changes to the track layout, combined with resignalling, in the London Bridge area is planned by the Southern Region of British Railways to overcome the notorious bottleneck of Borough Market Junction, just west of London Bridge Station on the South-Eastern Division.  In the peak hours this junction is being used to its maximum capacity, and a slight delay to one train can “snowball” into long delays to many trains along the stretch towards St. Johns and beyond.

Trains to and from Charing Cross and Canon Street will no longer need to be “sorted” among conflicting paths at Borough Market.  This will be done further out, concentrating Canon Street traffic on the northernmost tracks approaching London Bridge.

The scheme – which is expected to be started later this year and be completed by 1975 – involves the construction of a flyover at St. Johns (by extending a bridge already there), widespread track alterations and a new signalbox at London Bridge.  The flyover will carry trains from the Lewisham direction on to their proper routes without them having to negotiate “flat” crossings east of London Bridge.

The article ends:

The alterations cannot provide room for more trains, but passengers are promised greatly improved timekeeping.

Too true!  Today, London Bridge again is in the news, with the success of Thameslink services making Borough Market and London Bridge a bottleneck once again.  Rebuilding London Bridge was probably the only solution, but at what cost to train services?


The letters page contains the usual moans:

Reactionary attitude

Sir – One is today sick and tired of the reactionary and retrograde attitude of the average railway enthusiast.  The eternal condemnation of diesel and praise of steam are clichés in a world which no longer recognises the steam engine as a viable piece of motive power.  People should now accept that the days of steam are gone for ever and no amount of silly sentimentalising will bring them back.

Another point deserves to be mentions, namely the attitude of the enthusiast to British Railways.  To him BR is some sort of beneficial agency which provides him with an engaging hobby.  All the rubbish spoken about BR recognising the railway enthusiast and pandering to his whims is ridiculous.  It is a commercial undertaking and, in order to remain viable, has to run its services and lines as it sees fit and not according to the view of some enthusiast with vague recollection of the pre-war supremacy of the railway.  Those who like their lines run in their fashion should concentrate on the preserved lines and leave BR to continue with its proper function – transporting passengers as quickly and as comfortably as possible from A to B.

Wow!  Though I’m not sure BR was either quick or comfortable in 1971.  A suitable reply graced the April edition….

….. is it so very wrong to live in the past?  If so, let us demolish the Albert Hall, blow-up Tower Bridge, and the Tower of London, and build tall blocks of flats in their place.  Let us forget the trams, trolley buses, steam rollers, traction engines, and continually praise their diesel and petrol replacements.  No, why should we forget them: in their time they did an excellent job, and this should be continually broadcast to the world…..

Is it any different in 2016?

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About snitchthebudgie

Secretary of the East Surrey N Gauge railway club
This entry was posted in Inspiration, Out and about, Prototype and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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