Railway conversion -the impractical dream by E. A. Gibbins M.C.I.L.T. (Leisure Products) © Copyright E.A. Gibbins, 978- 0-9535225-2-1, published 2006


British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data. A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library


The author wishes to thank those who assisted his research:

Public Record Office, House of Lords Record Office, Chartered  Institute of Transport Library,  Keele University, British Library & Newspaper Library

libraries with railway collections: National Railway Museum,  Newton Abbott, Widnes, Winchester

other libraries:

Alsager, Birmingham, Bishopsgate Institute, Bradford, Crewe, Hanley, Inverness, John O’ Groats, Liverpool, Manchester, Oban, Somerset, Sunderland, Wick

Other organisations which generously supplied copies of media reports & local authorities which sent data and maps,

Carl Defebo of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission,

Jerry Quelch of the New York Port Transit Authority,

Michael Leppard,

Those who provided photographs

Bishopsgate Institute, David Hibbert, Basil Jeuda, Jamie Orr, Carl Tart, Mark Watson, and many others


Written in memory of the many BR managers who tried to make railways viable, despite inequitable Government policies which favoured road transport,

and a scale of unwarranted and unqualified interference never experienced in any other industry.




The Author

In 1946, the author followed his father into the service of the London, Mid­land & Scottish Railway, beginning as a junior and ending as a Chief Officer with British Rail. A station master at 21, his 40 year career took him to three Regions and to BR Headquarters in London, serving in several operating and general man­agement positions, before taking early retirement. His books include: 

Blueprints for Bankruptcy. The first to expose the myth that BR fares exceeded inflation and the first to catalogue the role of the Transport Tribunal - a court of law - that determined fares and charges for 20 years and admitted its decisions had cut rail revenue. Their Re­ports and Proceedings of Hearings covered 6,000 pages. The book included extracts from Government papers closed to the public for 30-50 years. It revealed the extent of external interference in day to day working, such that no industry however skilled its managers could have avoided bankruptcy.

Square Deal Denied. The first comprehen­sive account of the pre-war demands, by Britain’s privately owned railways for a ‘Square Deal’ - equality of treatment under the law to that given to road transport and coastal shipping. It reveals the circumstances leading to their demand over an 18 year period, through four ineffective public inquiries. Government inertia over the demand for equality was the root cause for loss of rail freight to road transport, and railways’ consequential financial problems. Drawing from Public Records held secret for 50 years, it disproves claims - in other books and elsewhere - that a government intention to concede equality was deferred by the start of World War II. It is clear that government had no intention of conceding equality. It exposes the iniquitous treatment of privately owned and funded railways, which were sequestrated by government in two World Wars, and for which there was no parallel in transport or industry. It discloses the content of related government and railway papers - held, inaccessible to the public, for up to 50 years in the Public Record Office. 

The Railway Closure Controversy. Based on new research into public records and those of Transport Consultative Committees, rail ‘watchdogs’ which conducted hearings into closures. It examines popular fallacies and beliefs advanced by critics and objectors to closures, and reviews hitherto undis­closed details relating to ten closures which hit the headlines. It examines the basis for objections and criticisms, and disproves - with fact and figure - claims by amateurs and those claiming to be ‘experts’, that viability could be achieved by the adoption of their plans. A comprehensive rebuttal of closure conspiracy theories.

Britains Railways - The Reality. Reviews the background to privatisation. Reveals that BR managers were continually cutting costs and improving productivity, as researched data demonstrates. Compares BR favourably with private sector industry. Demonstrates that railways were not ‘in decline’, but were expanding, and that modernisation and improvement had been continuing since 1955. Proves that assets were not ‘decrepit’ when privatised, and that the average age of rolling stock was lower under BR. New statistics show that safety and punctuality are worse, and that the new boys were given subsidies where none had been given to BR’s InterCity since 1988. Even BR commuter services in the South East needed no subsidy in the year before privatisation. Privatisation costs taxpayers more, and will continue to cost even more, where before it was falling.














Chapter 1

Conversion of roads into railways


Chapter 2

Causes of railway traffic loss & deficits


Chapter 3

Conversion advocated by Lloyd


Chapter 4

Conversion demolished by road experts


Chapter 5

Lloyd scheme revised


Chapter 6

Conversion opportunities missed!


Chapter 7

Railway Conversion League


Chapter 8

Railway Conversion Campaign


Chapter 9

British Road Federation


Chapter 10-I

East Anglian Cataclysm


Chapter 10-II

        Comment on Hall/Smith scheme


Chapter 10-III

        Major defects in Hall/Smith scheme


Chapter 11

Trying to revive a lost cause


Chapter 12

The Reality


Chapter 13

Extent of conversion


Chapter 14

Media opinion & reports


Chapter 15

Public opinion


Chapter 16

Resolving road delays












from the Author’s collection except where shown


Chapter Index













 Woolwich-Tottenham Hale route                 



 Liverpool St bus terminal



 East Anglian bus drivers



 Compacted formation



 Ilford flyover



 A12 link road



 Width m-way v railway



 Headway road v rail












 Bus revenue                                              



 Unreliable road transport statistics



 Single/double etc lines



 road passenger transport






Selective editing of quoted sources






See also www.transportmyths.co.uk

And   www.railconversion.co.uk