Tag Archive: March

Ok, so it’s not a bus timetable. But with the 50th anniversary of the Beeching Report approaching, I thought I would share this piece of text with you. The National Union of Railwaymen (NUR) drafted a response to Beeching’s Reshaping of British Railways. Entitled The Mis-shaping of British Railways, the four page document criticised the report for it’s failure to consider the social functionality that the railways provided for communities up and down the country, especially in rural areas. The full text of the document is quoted beneath. Enjoy Reading.


Bristling with statements and figures that cannot be checked; cemented with academic argument and polished by much skilled handling, the formidable Beeching Report survived its launching with a seeming success.

But the public were not deceived. Now the document has been read and assessed they have made it quite clear that not only do they regard it with disfavour, but it is far from watertight.

Indeed, the Tory Press have measured public opinion as being FIVE-TO-ONE AGAINST.


Quite apart from the misguided brief under which Dr. Beeching operated, we hold the view that there are fundamental weaknesses in the plan itself.

Its conclusions are founded on traffic studies based on a single week’s workings. This gives only a one in fifty-two chance of the figures being truly representative.

We recall that a 12-year-old schoolboy faulted some of the published information. An error of 20,000 tons weekly was found respecting a small section of line. It altered the picture completely. Who knows how many other errors went undetected?

Much of the report is based on assumptions which has been freely admitted may prove to be wrong by experience. For example, the total estimated saving is about £140 million annually, but of this sum only £40 million or less is from direct saving. The other £100 million is mere guesswork.

The whole concept of the Plan is open to question. It blames the Railways Working Account deficit on to unremunerative branch lines, stopping trains, short-haul parcel traffic, etc., but the facts do not bear this out.

All these things existed during 1947-1952 when the railways paid their way – and they were no more profitable then than they are today. The real reason for the deficit was the sharp decline in mineral traffic, i.e., coal, iron, steel, etc.

It is said that the proposed Linear Trains will be planned with the Channel Tunnel in mind. How specific are the plans for this tunnel? When will it be completed? Will it be rendered obsolete by the improved 100 m.p.h. Hovercraft? This sounds like another Common Market fiasco. Is it right that the welfare and the transport prospects of the nation should be built on half baked ideas?


The Report itself admits that the Railways paid their way from 1947 to 1952. But it conveniently OMITS to mention that this was during the period of transport integration installed by the Labour Government. It worked. It paid. It proved to be an unqualified success.

There was no reason to introduce Dr. Beeching and his very highly-paid army of ex-industrial supporters. A proven remedy was at hand – and still is.

The financial rot set in ONLY AFTER the Tory Government denationalised road haulage.


Implementation of the Plan will leave vast areas of the British Isles without any railways at all. These approximations give some idea:-

500 sq. Miles in N and N.W. Scotland.

3,600 sq. Miles in N.E. Scotland.

1,600 sq. Miles immediately North of Glasgow starting almost from the suburban boundaries.

3,500 sq. Miles in S. Wales.

2,100 sq miles in N. Wales.

3,100 sq. Miles in N. England.

1,00 sq miles in the County of Lincolnshire.

This rape of the railways will benefit private road hauliers and bus companies; it will enrich the petrol, oil and motor-car magnates, and it will profit the land speculators and road builders etc. They are poised for their pickings.

But it will punish the aged, the infirm and the poorer people who cannot afford to run a car.

Buses are no substitute for trains, especially in rural areas. They have no real capacity for package, parcels, livestock etc. They wind slowly from village to village, doubling time, mileage and fares. They are victims of bad weather and their capacity is strictly limited.

Closures in known areas of unemployment will throw more people on to the open labour market – and the dole. This in turn will force people into the already congested urban areas.

Dr. Beeching’s report says that if the proposals are implemented in full, then the staff, the public and industry will suffer. Minister Marples knows this but still insists on full implementation.

He maintains that the sufferings and hardships imposed on thousands of people; the disturbance of their way of life; the shattering of their plans and also the abrupt cessation traditional transport services to hundreds of towns and villages ARE ALL OF LESS CONSEQUENCE THAN A PAPER PROFIT.

The Plan is wrong in concept and intentions. It is not in the best interests of the General Public.



Co-operative Printing Society, E.C.4-91246

In all of the Tyne and Wear PTE I’ve seen up until 1985, the 234 was also known simpy as ‘Trimdon’. Operated by Trimdon Motor Services, this bus operated between Houghton-le-Spring and Stockton via Salters Lane (which included the villages of Haswell and Wingate), through the Trimdoms and Fishburn to Sedgefield and down the A177 to Stockton. In later years, this service was extended from Houghton into Sunderland and operated by United after TMS sold their business to them.

The old 231 was an epic journey between Newcastle and Hartlepool that stopped everywhere and took nigh on two hours to complete. There was a limited-stop express service that also operated between Newcastle and Hartlepool (X5), so I don’t think that this service was aimed at anyone who needed to commute between the two areas. But, as mentioned, the X5 was a limited-stop service that stopped only at ‘the timing points shown’ without any additional stops. So if you lived in a village/community that the X5 did not stop at; then you were stuck with the 231.

Both services operated a similar route between Houghton-le-Spring and Hartlepool operating via Peterlee and Blackhall Rocks. Before the routes merged so to speak, the X5 operated the exact same route as the current ‘Red Arrows’ X1 services does now via Washington, whilst the 231 operated via Chester-le-Street and Birtley. The 231 started/terminated at Worswick Street whilst the X5 operated from Eldon Square via Worswick Street although in later years both services went to Eldon Square once Worswick Street had closed down. Both services were operated jointly by United and Northern.

Here is another service that still exists albeit with a different service number. The 230 between Sunderland and Hartlepool has now been replaced by services 23/23A/23B/23C. Some of these routes still traverse the entire route whilst others terminate at Peterlee. The service is still ran jointly by Go North East and Arriva North East (or Northern and United as they were then known) which is something of an oddity these days. I’m not sure how this arrangement was handled in 1979 but in 2011 it is hugely simplified with Arriva running the day service, and GNE operating on Evening and Sundays.

The route between Sunderland and Durham is now a flagship route for Go North East’s ‘Prince Bishops’ branded 20/20X services. This route has always attracted a high frequency of bus services but once upon a time at least two buses an hour used to extend beyond Durham to Bishop Auckland.

Unlike the other Sunderland to Darlington service, this one was operated jointly by Northern and United and operated through Houghton-le-Spring, West Rainton and skirts around Durham City Centre by serving the villages to the east (Pittington, Sherburn) before going to Coxhoe, Ferryhill and Newton Aycliffe.

Yet another bus operating between Sunderland and Middlesbrough. This one operates via Peterlee,  Wheatley Hill, The Trimdons and Sedgefield before going down the A177 into Stockton and into Middlesbrough.

As it says in the title, this service ran between Sunderland and Darlington via Peterlee, The Trimdons,  Sedgefield and Newton Aycliffe. If you wanted to travel from Sunderland to Darlington now it would probably involve an Explorer ticket as the quickest way would to get the Prince Bishops ’20’ or ’20X’ to Durham and transfer there. Is there even a bus between Peterlee and Darlington now?

Moving on to longer distanced services now, starting with the ‘2xx’ series which revolves around buses operating from the Sunderland area into Co. Durham and Cleveland. The first example is the 212. This service ran between Sunderland and Middlesbrough via Ryhope, Peterlee, Wingate and Stockton following much of the same route as Arriva’s 21A service and, until recently, Go North East’s 211.

This service has never really changed with one exception. In 1979, it was operated jointly by United and Tyne & Wear PTE.