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Durham e-Theses
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A signal failure? The organisation and management of British railways 1948-1964

Buttle, Geoffrey William (2008) A signal failure? The organisation and management of British railways 1948-1964. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This study offers a reassessment of the organisation and management of British Railways from 1948 to 1964. In examining the impact of the 1948 nationalisation, it considers whether the under-studied alternatives proposed by the railway companies might have been more successful, and whether the Labour government's political imperatives resulted in inadequate preparation for public ownership and modernisation of the transport system. Using an extensive range of government files, including records not available for earlier studies, it argues that the slow process of modernisation was less the consequence of government intervention or financial restrictions, or of general economic conditions, than of deficiencies in railway management - division of authority, weak strategic planning, lack of financial control, ineffective implementation of policies, and inability to alter entrenched attitudes in the workforce and among managers themselves. These management problems resulted in the expensive failure of the 1955 Modernisation Plan. The Conservative government, previously supportive (if with misgivings) of the railway management, now had no option but to impose its own review of the railways systems, leading to the controversial 1964 Beeching Report. The Report and implementation of its recommendations are examined with the purpose of assessing whether Beeching deserves his continuing denigration. The main conclusions are that nationalisation was mishandled, and that thereafter management failings made further government intervention inevitable.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2008
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:32

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