Hypothetical: What if the other line had been chosen?

Discussion in 'Railway History & Nostalgia' started by najaB, 6 Aug 2018.

  1. Calthrop

    Calthrop Established Member

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    Sounds as though it could be worth seeking out. Mind goes to a novel I read long ago, Over Our Dead Bodies (I've forgotten the author's name, and attempted Googling delivered only -- presumably more recent -- books of that title but on very different subjects !) The novel in question was a fictionalisation of the story of the impassioned, and successful, resistance by local people to the 1970s proposal for siting a third airport for London, in mid-Buckinghamshire.

    Said novel -- support for its protagonists' cause notwithstanding -- I found as far as literary craftsmanship was concerned, a rather "hack" and unimpressive effort: thus, not a particularly enjoyable read. Although I love the countryside and hate its despoliation in the interests of perceived progress; occasionally, out of contrariness, I fancy the thought of coming across a novel on such themes, written from the point of view of the "developers" and making the reader, at least temporarily, sympathise with their side of the fight !
     
    Last edited: 26 Aug 2018
  2. Pigeon

    Pigeon Member

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    I often wish that the jigging back and forth between the Midland route via Crudworth and Normanton, and the joint line via Pontefract, had finished up with the Crudworth route being retained instead of the joint line. Mainly, it has to be said, for historical reasons - it galls me to have such a chunk of the North Midland missing, and for it to be impossible to run along the complete original Midland route to the north. The two alternatives seem to be roughly equal as far as population potentially deprived of train service is concerned. Councils around the area and also NR do seem to have at least in the back of their minds the idea of reopening it at some future point to increase capacity in the area, and it strikes me that with it having been four tracks rather than two it would have been able to cope better in that regard if it had been the one to be retained originally, especially if the "alternative access" to Crudworth via Stairfoot had been retained as well.

    There's a sort of related matter of what if the other line had been chosen, not to close, but to build, regarding the L&C going up Longsleddale and tunnelling through to Haweswater instead of going over Shap. Obvious advantage in putting Kendal on the main line, and I'm pretty sure the gradients would have been a fair bit easier too, which given the severity and significance of Shap would probably have noticeably affected locomotive development. It also invites speculation about what the Midland would have done for a route to the north without the LNWR to handle traffic onward from Ingleton and then to deliberately do it really badly - would they have still used the S&C route, or would they have gone over Shap themselves?
     
  3. Eyersey468

    Eyersey468 Member

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    Whitby had 3 routes at one point, from Scarborough, Middlesbrough and Malton. Originally all 3 were proposed for closure, I've always felt if only one route could survive from a potential traffic point of view it would have been better to have kept the line to Malton through Pickering (part of which is now the NYMR) however the Middlesbrough line was reprieved officially due to the difficulty of providing a replacement bus service, however it went through a marginal constituency....
     
  4. krus_aragon

    krus_aragon Established Member

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    I've done the Scarborough-Whitby route by bus (via Robin Hood Bay iirc,), and felt it was an arduous route to send a bus down. I dread to think what the Middlesborough road was like...
     
  5. Calthrop

    Calthrop Established Member

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    I rather feel that if two routes out of the three into Whitby had to go, the Middlesbrough one was the logical one to retain: with its giving an equally -- even if not ideally -- convenient degree of access to Whitby, to people coming from the south or the north. (If the Loftus -- Whitby line, closed 1958, had survived into the Beeching era, that might have put a different slant on things.)
     
  6. Eyersey468

    Eyersey468 Member

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    The problem with the Scarborough to Whitby line was it was built close to the cliff top and would have needed a lot of money spending to stop it falling into the sea
     
  7. Pigeon

    Pigeon Member

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    I agree, but for reasons of access in the opposite direction: for people to get from Whitby to an urban centre - and after all, the line was retained for the benefit of locals rather than of outsiders. As far as outsiders getting to Whitby are concerned, the Middlesborough route is better described as equally inconvenient for anyone coming from outside Middlesborough or its immediate surroundings. For that purpose I reckon either the Malton route or the line west from Battersby would have been a better bet, with services to Whitby from York or Northallerton, straight off the ECML without having to mess around getting to Middlesborough.

    The Loftus line, I think, did well to hang on as long as it did. It was built on the cheap through difficult terrain; it was as twisty as a snake that swallowed a corkscrew coated in strychnine, and bits of it kept wanting to fall into the sea. I think there were loading gauge restrictions in tunnels as well. They were probably all too glad to get rid of it. There is a video somewhere on youtube of a cab ride along the remaining stump from Boulby; it is a quite amazing piece of railway, but you'd have a problem running a passenger service on it that was much more useful than walking.
     
  8. Calthrop

    Calthrop Established Member

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    I knew that Loftus -- Whitby was in poorish "nick" as at the 1950s -- playing a part in its 1958 closure -- but didn't realise things were as fundamentally bad, as you -- Eyersey468, Pigeon -- tell of.

    Your scenario re the Battersby -- Picton (between Northallerton and Stockton) line would, of course, have needed history to go a little differently from the way it did: passenger services withdrawn in 1954, after which pass. Whitby -- Middlesbrough reversing at Battersby; and if I have things rightly, total abandonment of at least some of the section before the mid-1960s. An interesting "alt-hist" notion to muse on, anyway. All this has been quite a complex system at its peak -- I recall a long-ago rail magazine (The Railway Magazine IIRC) article about the problems of overhauling industrial steam locos; telling of an industrial outfit at some point along the Esk Valley, whose elderly shunting tank loco broke down en route to or from the overhaulers' works, gumming services up on the [sic] "LNER's Battersby -- Grosmont branch".
     
    Last edited: 16 Sep 2018 at 07:23
  9. yorkguy

    yorkguy Member

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    I’m old enough to remember the closure of the lines into Whitby. In fact I was on the last scheduled passenger service from Whitby into Malton in March ‘65 - a jam packed, 6 coach DMU. I still have the ticket somewhere. There was a lot of local surprise when the Esk Valley line survived and the route south to Rillington/Malton closed, but the former serves many remote communities and was/is essential for secondary school travel into Whitby. One of the last Malton based drivers on the Whitby route, Mr Williamson, died a few months ago
     

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