Rest in peace British Rail: 1963 – 2013

Mike Humble and RailNews

The last remnant of the British Railways Board (BRB) has been closed down, 13 years after the power to do so was included Transport Act 2000 and just over 50 years since it took charge of the Nations railways. Part of its property has subsequently passed over to the control of the Highways Agency.

Preserved "Type 3" Class 47 snoozes at Kings Cross proudly displaying the blue and "Double Arrow" logo that many of us still regard as characterising British Rail.
Preserved “Type 3” Class 47 snoozes at Kings Cross proudly displaying the blue livery and “Double Arrow” logo that many of us still regard as characterising British Rail.

The BRB which operated from January 1963 and traded as “British Rail” from 1967 to 1997, took over the railways after the previous British Transport Commission (BTC) had been abolished after 15 years of existence. The BTC had itself been created in 1948 when the “Big Four” groups of the S.R – GWR – LMS & LNER had been nationalised. After many years of financial difficulty it was broken up into different boards in 1962, one of which was the new BRB.

Since the BRB ran its last trains in 1997 following privatisation, it has existed as BR (residuary) LTD in order to carry out some of the former boards remaining functions. These have now been transferred to other bodies as part of the Governments crackdown on quangoes. These bodies include the Highways Agency which has become responsible for derelict railway land such as bridleways of former branch lines and the structures upon them.

Structures such as the former Colne Valley Link bridge in Haverhill will pass into the control of the Highways Agency.
Structures such as the redundant Colne Valley Link bridge in Haverhill will pass into the control of the Highways Agency.

Any railway land that is out of use but may be required for future operational use will continue to be administered by Network Rail. Other successors to BRB Residuary LTD include London & Continental Railways LTD which is now responsible for former board property with development potential or may be used for future railway projects. Some office buildings are included in this portfolio such as the Derby based Railway Technical Centre and the Axis based in Birmingham.

Network Rail has gained some properties which should have been included during railway privatisation or which should have been maintained by the owner of the operational railway. It is now responsible for the Old Dalby test track – made famous by the prototype APT and various wartime and accident memorial artifacts.


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