50 Years since Beeching's report, Impact on SF ?

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50 Years since Beeching's report, Impact on SF ?

Postby stuthejag » Mon Jan 06, 2014 10:20 pm

Been wondering what impact Dr Richard Beeching's had on Scottish Football ?

I guess in terms of fans travelling to games on a 'fitbaw' special ? Impact on attendances?

Players traveling to training (& games) ?
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Re: 50 Years since Beeching's report, Impact on SF ?

Postby the hibLOG » Tue Jan 07, 2014 2:42 am

I think you'd be hard pushed to demonstrate a direct connection between Beeching and attendances. Manner of getting there, perhaps, but even then we are talking about an era before crowd segregation when it was virtually impossible to say with any accuracy exactly how many fans were away supporters. Plus, how many clubs are there whose towns lost a rail link as a result of Beeching? No major ones and few minor ones either. Since the vast majority of a home team's support would be travelling from the immediate urban area it is only an away team's support that might have been affected, but I suspect it would have seen very little change in the short term.

The demise of the football special was more directly as a result of the violent abuses of the 1970s and then the greater access to personal car transport in the 80s and 90s. Coupled with the more recent move of certain clubs to new out of town stadia (in England more so than Scotland) making train travel less convenient I think it's safe to say that line closures would have had little effect on patterns of attendance. Buggering about with kick off times to suit TV will likely have been more significant.
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Re: 50 Years since Beeching's report, Impact on SF ?

Postby HibeeJibee » Tue Jan 07, 2014 2:57 pm

Pre-war in leagues like the East of Scotland and Highland it was common for teams, and presumably fans, to travel by train. But I imagine this was increasingly replaced by omnibus and coach travel in the 1940s and 1950s. Cheaper, easier. Infact, in microscosm, exactly the sort of effect which cited as the cause of so many rail closures.
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Re: 50 Years since Beeching's report, Impact on SF ?

Postby the hibLOG » Tue Jan 07, 2014 8:54 pm

It has been argued that Beeching's reputation was undermined because the government failed to back the improved and extended bus services which he recommended to compensate for the rail closures in rural areas. Thatcher's deregulation of municipal bus services further undermined the promise of the roads to replace rail. The result of 30 years of this rampant individualism is the tortuous experience of getting to and from major games by private transport - leaving at ungodly hours to get there in time and find a park; choosing a safe parking spot; choosing a spot not too far from the ground to necessitate a long walk, nor too close to ensnare you in the post-match congestion; the driver not being able to enjoy a wee bevvy. Not to mention the inconvenience to residents in the vicinity of the ground and travelling through the wider area affected by the travelling support.
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Re: 50 Years since Beeching's report, Impact on SF ?

Postby Scottish » Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:58 am

Next to hee-haw I would think. For several reasons. First and foremost, while lines may have been shut, the tracks weren’t torn up and can even be brought back into use today – see Airdrie-Bathgate or the Borders Railway. Second, while many stations were shut in small localities the main lines stayed functioning or if closed, re-opened shortly afterwards.

As to the effects of Beeching, the routes I’m most familiar with are Glasgow to Stranraer via Irvine, Troon & Ayr and Glasgow to Stranraer (also the route to Carlisle) via Kilmarnock. The first of these was actually improved in the 1960s with electrification cutting the journey times to around half an hour to Irvine, forty minutes to Troon and fifty minutes to Ayr. The second wasn’t so fortunate with the closure of St Enoch forcing trains to and from Kilmarnock to start and finish at Glasgow Central. In terms of journey time though this had little effect. The fact that the line is single track between Kilmarnock and Barrhead means Kilmarnock has easily the worst service to and from Glasgow of any major town in the Central Belt.

However, while trains still ran to Carlisle, the Kilmarnock-Stranraer route was closed for a number of years until (sensibly) re-opened to cater for ferry traffic. Now, the two lines which end up at Stranraer converge at Barassie and on the stretch between Kilmarnock & Barassie the two stations en route – Gatehead and Drybridge – which closed in 1969 didn’t re-open when the rest of the line did. The effects on the communities which lost their stations were markedly different. Gatehead already had a direct bus service into Kilmarnock which took around seven or eight minutes and a longer service in the opposite direction through Dundonald, Loans, Troon, Monkton, Prestwick & Ayr. No train southwards meant a longer journey. OTOH when Crosshouse Hospital opened a new bus route was established which took (and takes) about five minutes to and from the hospital from Gatehead at the expense of a slightly longer trip into Kilmarnock.

Drybridge on the other hand suffered terribly. A continuous train service from 1847 ended in 1969, leaving the village without any form of public transport whatsoever. Even children had to walk to school, as they weren’t far enough away to merit a school bus service. It was several years before a bus service connected Drybridge with Kilmarnock and Irvine.

Okay, this might be diversionary, but the point is that despite line and station closures a special could have been hired at any time to traverse that line. Even today there are many such services for steam enthusiasts.

Two other points are worthy of consideration. First, that many de facto football specials were actually inter-Glaswegian on suburban and underground lines unaffected by closure. See the adverts in any contemporary newspaper. Second, because of the relatively small distances involved, most Scottish supporters travelled by bus with rail specials reserved for big cup ties. The football special was much more of an English phenomenon as the distances involved were usually greater.
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Re: 50 Years since Beeching's report, Impact on SF ?

Postby Gordon Baird » Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:24 am

Forfar's station was closed as a result of the Beeching cuts. Their nearest is now fourteen miles away in Arbroath - a football special wouldn't be a lot of good in their case.
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Re: 50 Years since Beeching's report, Impact on SF ?

Postby Scottish » Wed Jan 08, 2014 12:45 pm

Gordon Baird wrote:Forfar's station was closed as a result of the Beeching cuts. Their nearest is now fourteen miles away in Arbroath - a football special wouldn't be a lot of good in their case.


Often used as a quiz question. The club that plays at Station Park even though the nearest station is fourteen miles away.

Further to my diversion (or shunting into a siding) earlier, whilst I said the change of start/termination of the Glasgow-Kilmarnock line from St Enoch to Central had little if any effect on service or journey times, there were knock-on effects. None more so than the change at Glasgow for London which meant that instead of arriving at the glory and grandeur that was (and is) St Pancras, the new termination was the piece of hideous crap that was (and is) Euston.
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