‘Proto-freelancing’ is far more popular in the USA than in the UK. Perhaps this is due to the use of the same locomotive designs, with detail differences, across many railroads – for example the iconic F3 and F7 diesels. Bu
This web page discusses how the 1923 grouping of railway companies should have been carried out:
So here is my idea of how the 1923 Grouping should have been done. I have actually grouped the pre-1923 companies into five different groups. My Grouping has the advantage that the five companies are more equal in size. It also maximizes competition. I guess if I had my way Nationalization and Denationalization would also have looked pretty much like this. So in my ideal world, these would be the regional railways operating in Britain today. And there would be no Railtrack. There might be some franchising, but that would be up to the five regional companies to decide for themselves.
Most noticeable are the grouping of the GWR and the Great Central (who worked closely together, anyway) and the separation of the arch-enemies of the Midland Railway and the London & North Western Railway into new groups. These would make interesting models, retaining (but evolving) their distinctive liveries, and developing locomotive designs for them. The LNER and the Southern Railway remain much as they really were.
An interesting challenge for someone?