I've been reading through this topic the last couple of days, and so I thought I'd throw in my favourite bit of abandoned railway... well, favourite, but quite irritating as well in a way, as a demonstration of wasted potential.
This is Damems Lane, in the Worth Valley (West Yorkshire)- yes, this is a public right of way... it was clearly tarmacked once upon a time, and even had streetlights. Then neglect and the weather has worn it away. About ten years ago I did this lane in my wife's Ford Ka and nearly killed it- I swore I wouldn't drive this lane in anything except a 4x4 in future. On the right, behind the gates, is the trackbed of the Great Northern Railway's Keighley-Queensbury-Bradford/Halifax line at the old Bridge 56.
Down onto the trackbed. This was a spectacularly heavily-engineered route, with a mind-boggling number of viaducts and tunnels (including some on gradients that were meant to be utter hell for steam loco crews to work through). Fairly typical of the GNR lines in West Yorkshire, having to squeeze-in around the Midland, and forcing their lines around odd routes with a lot of structures and tunnels needed. Despite being a double-tracked mainline, it was duplicated in terms of end destinations, and never seems to have had much above two/three carriage local trains.
Looking towards Keighley. The trackbed is quite well maintained, and after a period of neglect, some locals are keeping an eye on it (even hanging out binliners in a -vain- attempt to get the local partying teenagers to sensibly dispose of their used vodka bottles and lager tinnies). It suffers the perennial Worth Valley problem of dog walkers not cleaning up their dog mess though.
The skew-bridge carried the line over Damems Lane, and is within sight of the pleasantly rural Damems Station (at a lower level) on the preserved Worth Valley line, on the other side of the valley. This shot is looking up the line towards Cullingworth, Denholme and Queensbury.
The route was an early casualty for railway closures, but a clear case of British Railways/BR being utterly desperate to close the line, lest it's strategic value and potential future usefulness mean they had to keep it open. For example, according to books by local railway historians, when locals asked if the passenger service could be made more economic and DMU's used, British Railways said the line was unsuitable for DMU use due to the gradients. Then a few years later after scrapping the passenger service, they extensively tested DMU's on the line with no problems. IT was being used by through-freights avoiding busier routes, so British railways randomly closed the section between Cullingworth and Lees Moor Tunnel (though left the track largely intact). Then there was the station master at Thornton who managed to, by his own initiative, increase local freight custom and actually turn a profit, only to have BR deliberately run-down the business and cut the number of goods trains/facilities. The final goods trains were so last-minute the local firms using them barely had time to empty the wagons before it was all withdrawn.
And the claim about the cost of the engineering is a bit false as well, as the track was deliberately allowed to fall into disrepair to the stage where maintenance wasn't an option any more, just outright replacement (allowed to linger in this state for quite a while until a visit by the engineer for an inspection noted it would need relaying), and all those expensive tunnels and viaducts have still needed maintaining; just look at how the nightmare of Queensbury Tunnel is dragging on to see how that's going. You'd be hard-pressed to find a railway anywhere in this part of Yorkshire which didn't have expensive viaducts and tunnels to deal with the hilly landscape.
This bridge survived, with track across it for the use of test trains, and then just mothballed, for a long time after closure. The book "Great Northern Outpost" (vol.2) shows the bridge in place, and freshly repainted in 1963 even though no trains had run over it since the late 1950's (and even they were just in connection with derailment tests).
What's annoying is so much of the line remains in place- what a route that would make now! All those growing towns like Denholme and Cullingworth, the urban sprawl of Bradford, all would probably find a commuter passenger service useful. With the Aire Valley electrified, it would be tempting to imagine an electrified loop line serving the area. With local freight in decline now the route would have less strategic value as a through route between Scotland and Leeds (via Bradford) or Manchester (via Halifax), but might have come in useful about a decade or two ago for diverting the MGR and quarry workings away from the busy Airedale route. But then again, local railway investment until comparatively recently was pretty low, and until the closure of the S&C route was finally kicked into the long grass, there was a real chance of the only local passenger services being an hourly DMU to Keighley from Leeds/Bradford on the now-heaving Airedale line. In that political and economic environment, it would be unlikely for the ex-GNR line to have survived, but it's still tempting to imagine it clinging on, singled for most of its length with an infrequent clapped-out DMU rattling along, surviving until the local resurgence in public transport made it viable again.
What's worse is that the formation over most of the route is intact, especially in the central section away from the ends of the route- there's the odd missing bridge deck like this one, but the big viaducts and tunnels are mostly there. But there is no hope in hell of reopening the route- the viaduct snaking through central Halifax was obliterated and there's no way of replacing or bypassing the old trackbed, likewise in Bradford itself the route was filled-in and built over. It might, just, be possible to rebuild the route into Keighley by running over the preserved KWVR, but you'd be left with a meandering branch line that didn't connect the more rural moorland towns to the places people would want to go to. And with the collapse of commuter traffic following Corona, even the occasionally rumoured pipe-dream of Tram Trains (that would take at least 40 years to implement) with street-running in Bradford and Halifax to bypass the lost urban trackbed, seems dead. It was extra annoying to me when I worked in Bradford, given I lived 5 minutes from one of the old stations and worked 10 minutes from the old Thornton site, and if there'd been a railway I'd have had an alternative to the hour-long drive each way.
So for now, it's just a weird survivor. The bits you can walk like the viaduct paths in Thornton and Cullingworth, and these odd patches where a massively-engineered stone bridge abutment sits in the middle of a wood...