BBC North West explores Beeching's legacy with Stuart Maconie
The lost world of England's railway lines is explored on Sunday 26 October on BBC One North West, as Stuart Maconie takes a wry look at the impact across the North West of Dr Beeching and his 1963 report The Re-Shaping of British Railways.
Stuart explores how the now infamous Beeching axe, which proposed the closure of some 5,000 miles of the country's rail network, changed the region forever, and asks how far it was responsible for the region's current traffic problems.
All corners of England were to suffer blows from the axe and the implications were to run much deeper than the loss of rail services. Landscapes, buildings, villages and towns now take a different shape because of events in the Sixties.
The programme examines the winners and losers from this dramatic period in transport history.
Stuart's journey begins at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, where the world's first passenger railway opened in 1830.
"That's not to say everything ran smoothly for the railway," says Stuart.
"On the inaugural passenger trip – grand occasion, lots of razzmatazz – one of the VIPs got out to stretch his legs, was hit by a train and died. The love-hate relationship between rail and the British public was born."
Marple, 12 miles from Manchester, used to be well served by the railways until Dr Beeching scrapped the five-mile link to Stockport.
Before Beeching, you could get there by train in just 12 minutes, but now for those who want to get directly from Marple to Stockport, there's only the A626, where the journey can take an hour-and-a-half in rush-hour traffic.
Stuart travels with locals who are frustrated with the traffic jams on this road.
Local runner Elaine Robinson takes up the challenge of racing local taxi driver Mike Anderson along the route to see whether a woman on foot can get to Stockport faster than a driver can.
Cheadle used to have two stations of its own – Cheadle and Cheadle Heath – but these were axed.
Stuart meets local residents who are unhappy with the condition of the local buses they have to use on their commute into Manchester.
Notes to Editors
The BBC North West programme is one of 10 regional programmes each looking at the impact of the Beeching cuts on their areas.
All programmes are broadcast on BBC One, Sunday 26 October 2008, at 4.25pm, and form part of a BBC Four-led season looking at The Golden Age Of Steam.