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As of New Year's Day in 1923, the railways of Great Britain are to be formally Nationalised...

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It was announced today in the House of Commons by Sir Eric Geddes, that as of January 1st 1923 the railways of Great  Britain are to be formally nationalised and will remain under the control of the Government...

 

What if this statement had been true? What if, in 1923 (or in the early 1920s at any rate) the Railways Act of 1921 introduced Nationalisation instead of what actually happened with the grouping?

 

Now, stepping away from the politics for a moment, I'm interested in the 'Modelling' side of how this would look. What sorts of locos would result? Who would be CME? What livery might result? What might potential standard coach and wagon stock look like? How would the regions be divided differently? Would each region have it's own CME? Might the regions more closely follow the BR ones than the boundaries of the Big Four companies?

If one were to model this, these are all things to consider.

Now, we have one standard class known already - The SECR Maunsell N Class. A number of these were actually ordered by the Government and in addition to being built as N's for the newly-grouped SR, some found their way into becoming Metropolitan Railway K Class 2-6-4T's and others into becoming the Great Southern Railway (of Ireland) 372 and 393 classes.

 

 

31874 is part of a second batch that had slightly unusual origins. It was produced in the Twenties from a ‘kit of parts’ made at Royal Arsenal Woolwich.  At the end of WWI the railways were under threat of nationalisation and the SECR N class had been selected by the government as a standard to be used across the new unified railway. In anticipation, the government ordered one hundred locos from Woolwich Arsenal as part of a scheme to find work for the skilled labour there. In 1921 however, Nationalisation was abandoned in favour of forming ‘The Big Four’ 

 

CI%C3%89_383_Broadstone_AlanC_Collection

Image taken from Wikipedia page for the GSR Classes 372 and 393 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GSR_Classes_372_and_393

 

So, we have our equivalent of a Standard 4MT Mogul. It's probably not best to look at like-for-like substitutions of the BR Standard classes, but we'll stick with it for now.

On that basis, can we perhaps assume that the equivalent of the BR Standard 4MT Tank would perhaps look something like this:

800px-Metropolitan_Railway_2-6-4T_locomo

Previous image file replaced due to very definite copyright infringement. New image taken from Wikipedia - https://da.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fil:Metropolitan_Railway_2-6-4T_locomotive_(CJ_Allen,_Steel_Highway,_1928).jpg 

 

The aforementioned Metropolitan Railway K class. I think this a fair view of how the equivalent of a standard 4MT tank would look, given the large amount of commonality with the N class, being built mostly from the Woolwich components.

So, what about other classes? Would we see a Maunsell commonality between them? Would Maunsell have been CME? Or would there have not been such standardisation as was seen at Swindon during that time or across the country under Riddles in our timeline. Would the classes even align with the BR ones? I can't really see the equivalent of a 9F appearing at that time as most railways seemed quite content with 2-8-0's and 0-8-0's so perhaps a 2-10-0 would not have even been considered. Possibly, given the high number owned by the goverment at that time, the GCR 8K would have been adopted as the standard 2-8-0 heavy freight design? Again, this would make a lot of sense as not only were so many brand new ones in storage at the time but many, many, works and builders had the relevant patterns and drawings to make more of them.

WarSurplusTrains.jpg

Image taken from the Epsom & Ewell History Explorer website - http://www.epsomandewellhistoryexplorer.org.uk/ROD.html

 

They had a lot of them! Also, many crews would have been familiar with them if they had served with ROD abroad.

So far we have our standard mid range mixed traffic tender and tank locos, plus our heavy freight locos, but what about express passenger or, indeed, smaller designs for smaller duties. Unlike Riddles we probably also have to consider a standard design for a small 0-6-0 tank engine, and probably an 0-6-0 goods engine too. 0-6-0's still formed a very large part of the loco fleet at this time, but perhaps enough of them were still modern enough to not require a standard design? Would there also be a standard 4-4-0? Would these be of Maunsell design, perhaps using the same boiler as the N's and possibly resembling the SR L1's?

 

Then there is the question of livery. I think it's fair to assume that goods locomotives would be black. But would they be lined, and if so how? What colour would passenger locomotives be? A green is perhaps fair to expect - it was adopted by three of the big four and then by BR, but what sort of green? What would the new company even be called?! 'British Railways' isn't necessarily what would have been adopted.

 

So, I leave this open from here - it seems a fascinating 'What if' proposal that I haven't really seen aired as a layout idea. I like it, and perhaps we can all develop this a bit more and see where it goes?

Edited by sem34090
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This has been discussed many, many times already, usually in the musings etc section of Wheeltappers.

 

Sorry, but the topic can only go round in circles, leading to arguments, etc., covering old ground in a new place (if that is possible!) and above all else, pre-grouping it ain’t.

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I see.

 

Well, I suppose that's it then. I had hoped that perhaps putting it here, where (without wishing to offend!) interesting discussion is usually more possible than elsewhere that might be avoided, but since it's been decided that this will end in an argument... 

 

Also, I wanted to discuss this with a view to possibly modelling this scenario, so (and without wishing to be rude to you, Simon, but failing in that wish!) I would rather like to be able to discuss it here and formulate some ideas. The idea has a lot more to do with pre-grouping railways than it does with the Big Four or the nationalised railway that came about in 1948.

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............................

 

Sorry, but the topic can only go round in circles, leading to arguments, etc., ..................................

Yes - this is exactly what would have happened to the railway companies in 1923 as it did with the actual merger of the LYR/LNWR and the MR.  Add to that melting pot other important railways like the GWR, LSWR, GNR, GER, NER, CR, NBR etc. etc. and .........................................!!!

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If he made the date of the nationalisation pre 22 then it would work?

 

I like the idea, it could be good to have locos still working in their last pre-grouping liveries and only the new locos in the new national livery.....

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Another interesting possibility is that we could have seen small numbers of locos transferred away from their traditional homes, as happened under BR... So how's about a GER liveried Y14 sat alongside a new British Railways K Tank (Or whatever it would have been - Something like the Met K) at Prince's Risborough whilst a Saint thunders through on a fast...

 

There might have also been a greater number of inter-regional workings, but given a large number of those saw regional loco changes even in BR days (in reality) then I doubt that will lead to a York - Southampton train arriving behind an NER loco...

Edited by sem34090

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Can I ask if you have sought permission to hotlink the images from another site (and whether copyright is applicable)? At very least source credit should be made.

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EDIT: Now corrected. One image replaced and the rest credited as appropriate. Thanks to Andy for drawing my attention to it. It is perhaps too easy to search a loco class on google images and copy an image that comes up in the search into a thread without thinking. It happens quite a bit.

Edited by sem34090

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I'd suggest starting here: http://www.steamindex.com/locotype/arle.htm

 

 

I reckon you might start off with the railways operating essentially as they were in WW1, with one or two drawing offices gaining influence as time went on and the others diminishing. Whilst the website linked above found it surprising the NER weren't involved but given many significant figures were borrowed for the war effort I don't see it as a surprise.

Postwar, the fact that geddes would've been in charge of the whole thing and Raven would've returned to loco design in peacetime after sorting out munitions production and getting a knighthood. Having an ally at the top in geddes might've suggested he'd wield a lot of influence.

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That's an interesting-looking page - I'll have a proper read of it later. Unfortunately it only has drawings for 2-6-0's and a Midland (7F) 2-8-0, and given the 2-6-0 was actually decided and manufactured and the 2-8-0 is most likely to have been the ex-ROD machines it'd be more interesting to see drawings for the other submissions!

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One of the early grouping proposals was that all the Scottish companies would form one group.

 

Jim

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I think it's a fascinating idea.  My thoughts on it;

 

1. 1948, it wasn't just the railways nationalised, it was road transport and canals too (per the 1947 Act).  1923, road transport wasn't anywhere near as advanced as in 1947/48 whilst canal transport was a bigger factor.  Are we saying therefore our timeline 1947 Act brought forward 25 years, or a different idea nationalising just the railways?

 

2. From above, lesser road transport = lesser competition for the nationalised railway (our timeline, the period 1923-29 was when the Big Four were most profitable, before the Great Depression- and then just as they recovered from that they were plunged into another war).  So unlike our timeline, a 1923 nationalised railway has a bit of breathing space to make money, take stock of what it has and what it needs, and actually start that before the economy goes to hell and the privatations of hostilities. 

 

3. Unlike 1948, a 1923 nationalised railway isn't going to be trying to repair masses of bomb damage (oh, I know bombing took place in WWI but on nothing like the scale 1939-45).  So it's not got those repairs to pay for. 

 

4. Generally, I'm saying the situation in 1922/23 wasn't as bleak and austere as it was (not only for railways but in general) post-WWII. 

 

5. In WWI 'government control' meant nothing more than a group of senior railway managers co-ordinating efforts between all railways.  It goes without saying that the political situation in 1922 was completely different to 1947, anything like hands-on government control was anathema.  So I would argue a nationalised system in 1922/23 would merely formalise the working arrangements of 1914-21. 

 

6. As to how it would actually be run, much like our timeline I think it would split into regions, it's just too much to control the whole system from one central point.  The obvious way to decide the regions would be to lump together railways running in the same geographical areas, can you see where this is going?- a southern/ south eastern region, eastern region, western region, London midland (London north western?) region, so on and so forth.  Bearing in mind some railways had rather close working relationships (SECR being a joint committee of two, WCML being LNWR/ CR, ECML being GNR/NER/NBR, co-operative working agreement between GNR, GCR, GER [which tried to amalgamate in 1909 but the Board of Trade put the brakes on it], also the GCR-GWR close working relationship etc)...

 

7. I argue that putative 1922/23 regions would be roughly analagous to our timeline 1923 Grouping, thus 5 regions (the Big Four plus a Scottish region- originally Big Four were going to be a Big Five until it was realised the Scottish Railway would be bankrupt from the off- under nationalisation I think the Scottish Railway would have become fact and been propped up by the public purse, short term at least). 

 

8. Also like our timeline 1948, I think initially each region would have it's own CME. Until there's been some experience and time of all railways working as one, you're going to need a transitional period so each region and central control gets a handle on what it has, what it needs and how to achieve that.  Proven good all-round standard designs (eg the Maunsell 'N' and the ROD) would be provided for general mixed traffic/ heavy goods work, as to shunting and passenger duties the regions would be left to puzzle it out for themselves. 

 

9. Liveries- whatever you want! The better financial situation of 1922/23 perhaps means less onus from the owners of the public purse for 'any colour you want, so long as it's black'. 

 

Those are some initial thoughts anyway, but please don't tell me I've got to start repainting my lovely GCR stuff again!

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EDIT: Now corrected. One image replaced and the rest credited as appropriate. Thanks to Andy for drawing my attention to it. It is perhaps too easy to search a loco class on google images and copy an image that comes up in the search into a thread without thinking. It happens quite a bit.

Sorry, but I need to do this as a point of explanation - taking the N class image used SEMGonline it would still be appropriate to seek their consent for hotlink as you are effectively incurring a cost to them for their site server bandwidth. In such instances it is kinder to them to just provide a hyperlink to the image or page if you don't wish to commit to seeking consent for hotlinking.

 

It's enough of a problem with other sites using content from here without our members doing so. I try to promote us as having a better approach to such matters.

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I'd suggest starting here: http://www.steamindex.com/locotype/arle.htm

 

 

I reckon you might start off with the railways operating essentially as they were in WW1, with one or two drawing offices gaining influence as time went on and the others diminishing. Whilst the website linked above found it surprising the NER weren't involved but given many significant figures were borrowed for the war effort I don't see it as a surprise.

Postwar, the fact that geddes would've been in charge of the whole thing and Raven would've returned to loco design in peacetime after sorting out munitions production and getting a knighthood. Having an ally at the top in geddes might've suggested he'd wield a lot of influence.

 

I started reading that, and did a double take.  That Gorton-designed 2-6-0 looks familiar.... it also appears in Tuplin's 'Great Central Steam' as a design exercise from 1913.  I actually built a model of it....

 

45134780755_fae6e7a8e6_b.jpg

 

A Mainline 43xx fitted with a whitemetal 'Director' boiler.  Then I altered the splasher design to ape Robinson's later aesthetic.  It's badly in need of a rebuild and repaint now, but is in the queue to be taken in hand in due course. 

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I think it's a fascinating idea.  My thoughts on it;

 

1. 1948, it wasn't just the railways nationalised, it was road transport and canals too (per the 1947 Act).  1923, road transport wasn't anywhere near as advanced as in 1947/48 whilst canal transport was a bigger factor.  Are we saying therefore our timeline 1947 Act brought forward 25 years, or a different idea nationalising just the railways?

 

I was thinking more along the lines of an altered 1921 act than a brought-forward 1947 act. As far as I know, the 1921 Railways Act only applied to railways and the canals that some railway companies already owned, plus any road vehicles that some railway companies already owned.

 

2. From above, lesser road transport = lesser competition for the nationalised railway (our timeline, the period 1923-29 was when the Big Four were most profitable, before the Great Depression- and then just as they recovered from that they were plunged into another war).  So unlike our timeline, a 1923 nationalised railway has a bit of breathing space to make money, take stock of what it has and what it needs, and actually start that before the economy goes to hell and the privatations of hostilities. 

 

Very true!

 

3. Unlike 1948, a 1923 nationalised railway isn't going to be trying to repair masses of bomb damage (oh, I know bombing took place in WWI but on nothing like the scale 1939-45).  So it's not got those repairs to pay for. 

 

That too...

 

4. Generally, I'm saying the situation in 1922/23 wasn't as bleak and austere as it was (not only for railways but in general) post-WWII. 

 

Indeed!

 

5. In WWI 'government control' meant nothing more than a group of senior railway managers co-ordinating efforts between all railways.  It goes without saying that the political situation in 1922 was completely different to 1947, anything like hands-on government control was anathema.  So I would argue a nationalised system in 1922/23 would merely formalise the working arrangements of 1914-21. 

 

I think that is perhaps what I was thinking? Not so much nationalised as a large company funded mostly by the Governement? Maybe?

 

6. As to how it would actually be run, much like our timeline I think it would split into regions, it's just too much to control the whole system from one central point.  The obvious way to decide the regions would be to lump together railways running in the same geographical areas, can you see where this is going?- a southern/ south eastern region, eastern region, western region, London midland (London north western?) region, so on and so forth.  Bearing in mind some railways had rather close working relationships (SECR being a joint committee of two, WCML being LNWR/ CR, ECML being GNR/NER/NBR, co-operative working agreement between GNR, GCR, GER [which tried to amalgamate in 1909 but the Board of Trade put the brakes on it], also the GCR-GWR close working relationship etc)...

 

So perhaps we'd see similar regional boundaries to BR? Or something along these lines:

GER, GNR, NER, H&BR, LT&SR merge together.

LNWR, NLR, L&YR, FR, M&CR, Cambrian and Midland are merged together.

GSWR, GNoSR, CR, NBR, HR and any Scottish Companies that I may have missed are merged together.

GWR, GCR, Met and Welsh Companies besides the Cambrian are merged.

LSWR, LBSCR, SECR, merged together.

 

So the Scottish region is formed, the Western Region is larger, reaching further North and takes responsibility for the Met due to its close relationship with the GCR, the Southern region is unchanged, the Eastern region is slightly smaller and the Midland region slightly bigger. The North Eastern region doesn't exist.

 

 

7. I argue that putative 1922/23 regions would be roughly analagous to our timeline 1923 Grouping, thus 5 regions (the Big Four plus a Scottish region- originally Big Four were going to be a Big Five until it was realised the Scottish Railway would be bankrupt from the off- under nationalisation I think the Scottish Railway would have become fact and been propped up by the public purse, short term at least). 

 

So similar to what I propose?

 

8. Also like our timeline 1948, I think initially each region would have it's own CME. Until there's been some experience and time of all railways working as one, you're going to need a transitional period so each region and central control gets a handle on what it has, what it needs and how to achieve that.  Proven good all-round standard designs (eg the Maunsell 'N' and the ROD) would be provided for general mixed traffic/ heavy goods work, as to shunting and passenger duties the regions would be left to puzzle it out for themselves. 

 

Makes sense

 

9. Liveries- whatever you want! The better financial situation of 1922/23 perhaps means less onus from the owners of the public purse for 'any colour you want, so long as it's black'. 

 

Indeed!

 

Those are some initial thoughts anyway, but please don't tell me I've got to start repainting my lovely GCR stuff again!

 

GCR locos are to wear GCR livery... there you go. In fact, we'll make GCR livery standard across the nationalised system...  :jester: 

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I think it's a fascinating idea.  My thoughts on it;

 

1. 1948, it wasn't just the railways nationalised, it was road transport and canals too (per the 1947 Act).  1923, road transport wasn't anywhere near as advanced as in 1947/48 whilst canal transport was a bigger factor.  Are we saying therefore our timeline 1947 Act brought forward 25 years, or a different idea nationalising just the railways?

 

I was thinking more along the lines of an altered 1921 act than a brought-forward 1947 act. As far as I know, the 1921 Railways Act only applied to railways and the canals that some railway companies already owned, plus any road vehicles that some railway companies already owned.

 

 

5. In WWI 'government control' meant nothing more than a group of senior railway managers co-ordinating efforts between all railways.  It goes without saying that the political situation in 1922 was completely different to 1947, anything like hands-on government control was anathema.  So I would argue a nationalised system in 1922/23 would merely formalise the working arrangements of 1914-21. 

 

I think that is perhaps what I was thinking? Not so much nationalised as a large company funded mostly by the Governement? Maybe?

 

6. As to how it would actually be run, much like our timeline I think it would split into regions, it's just too much to control the whole system from one central point.  The obvious way to decide the regions would be to lump together railways running in the same geographical areas, can you see where this is going?- a southern/ south eastern region, eastern region, western region, London midland (London north western?) region, so on and so forth.  Bearing in mind some railways had rather close working relationships (SECR being a joint committee of two, WCML being LNWR/ CR, ECML being GNR/NER/NBR, co-operative working agreement between GNR, GCR, GER [which tried to amalgamate in 1909 but the Board of Trade put the brakes on it], also the GCR-GWR close working relationship etc)...

 

So perhaps we'd see similar regional boundaries to BR? Or something along these lines:

GER, GNR, NER, H&BR, LT&SR merge together.

LNWR, NLR, L&YR, FR, M&CR, Cambrian and Midland are merged together.

GSWR, GNoSR, CR, NBR, HR and any Scottish Companies that I may have missed are merged together.

GWR, GCR, Met and Welsh Companies besides the Cambrian are merged.

LSWR, LBSCR, SECR, merged together.

 

So the Scottish region is formed, the Western Region is larger, reaching further North and takes responsibility for the Met due to its close relationship with the GCR, the Southern region is unchanged, the Eastern region is slightly smaller and the Midland region slightly bigger. The North Eastern region doesn't exist.

 

 

7. I argue that putative 1922/23 regions would be roughly analagous to our timeline 1923 Grouping, thus 5 regions (the Big Four plus a Scottish region- originally Big Four were going to be a Big Five until it was realised the Scottish Railway would be bankrupt from the off- under nationalisation I think the Scottish Railway would have become fact and been propped up by the public purse, short term at least). 

 

So similar to what I propose?

 

 

 

Point 1- I forgot there was a 1921 Act (d'oh), substituiting Nationalisation for Grouping makes sense now. 

 

Points 5, 6, 7- yes, like you propose.  I'm not sure about the Metropolitan, for all of its posturing pre-1914 that it was a mainline railway it did a remarkable volte-face to keep itself out of the Grouping (and indeed out of London Transport until 1933).  I'm currently reading Alan Jackson's history of the Met, I'll be paying particular attention to the chapter dealing with how they swung it that they kept their independence- and report back.

 

 

 

 

please don't tell me I've got to start repainting my lovely GCR stuff again!

 

GCR locos are to wear GCR livery... there you go. In fact, we'll make GCR livery standard across the nationalised system...  :jester: 

 

  Thank'ee, much obliged!

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Actually, I very much like the GCR livery. But perhaps it isn't the most likely scheme. It is a green though...

As I said previously, I think that a green is most likely. It seems to have been the most common colour for a while by that time, and black for goods locomotives was almost standard across all companies.

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9. Liveries- whatever you want! The better financial situation of 1922/23 perhaps means less onus from the owners of the public purse for 'any colour you want, so long as it's black'. 

 

 

The BR livery was going to be Caledonian Blue for express passenger locomotives and a unspecified shade of green for the rest. They even had a show at Kensington to trial the new liveries including all the Big Four liveries. GWR green won. BR Blue was soon dropped as being too difficult to keep clean.

 

It was only because of Riddles that they ended up black as he was ex LNWR. The same reason the mainline carriages were blood and custard as it was the closest to the LNWR livery possible.

 

Riddles - “I got more than 19,000 out of 20,000 locomotives painted black, which was what I had wanted all along!’

 

 

https://www.heritagerailway.co.uk/steam-engineers-robert-riddles-britains-last-steam-chief-mechanical-engineer/

 

 

 

Jason

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To be fair to Riddles, LNWR Lined black is one of very few liveries that seems to suit almost everything. Indeed, the only locos I don't think suit it are the GWR Collet panniers, but they possibly didn't exist in this timeline.

 

Perhaps LNWR lined black across the board? It's a nice livery.

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My understanding is that the Met remained independent at Grouping simply because despite its goods services, it was regarded as an Underground railway, like the District. It was considered for Grouping at an early stage, but rejected.

 

Possibly the Inner Circle was the point of contention - certainly in 1933, a condition of the Met remaining independent of London Transport was that they should relinquish the Inner Circle. This was jointly operated with the Metropolitan District Railway, which in turn was owned by Underground Electric Railways Limited along with a number of other Underground lines.

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I think therefore that perhaps the Met should be excepted as it was in our timeline at the grouping.

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I'm not sure about the Metropolitan, for all of its posturing pre-1914 that it was a mainline railway it did a remarkable volte-face to keep itself out of the Grouping (and indeed out of London Transport until 1933).  I'm currently reading Alan Jackson's history of the Met, I'll be paying particular attention to the chapter dealing with how they swung it that they kept their independence- and report back.

 

 

Alan Jackson's history of the Metropolitan, in discussing the Grouping, says that at an early stage it was considered to group all of the underground railways into one.  However, that idea was dropped at an early stage and it was because the Met was classed as an underground railway that it escaped Grouping entirely- the idea presumably being all of the udnerground was grouped or none of it was. 

 

Considering how the Circle Line was basically a joint route operated by both the Met and the Metropolitan & District this approach seems to make sense, it can't be a coincidence that it was the Circle Line that decided the fate of the Metropolitan in 1933 (a choice between independence shorn of the Circle Line, or amalgamation into the LPTB). 

 

I agree that the Met should be excluded, the other possibility is that all of the underground lines are included and form a region of sorts of their own.

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The Underground is kind of odd when put in the context of other railways. Obviously you have the Central, City and South London, Hampstead, Piccadilly and Bakerloo Lines (for the sake of simplicity, I'll use their modern names except in the case of the Northern, which was two companies). These are very obviously a different thing from the main line railways - they're self-contained, mostly underground, passenger only, small loading gauge. But you also have the Waterloo and City, which until 1994 is part of the main line network, even though it is to all intents and purposes a tube railway.

 

Then you have the District and Metropolitan (plus the Hammersmith and City and East London) which, aside from the fact that they partly run underground, have very little in common with the Tubes. They share lines with the main line companies, they're surface gauge and they even carry a certain amount of goods. Looking at them from the point of view of the early twentieth century, I'd be more inclined to group them in with lines like the London and Blackwall, the North London and maybe even the London, Tilbury and Southend. I think that, had that diabolical Charles Tyson Yerkes not had his wicked way with the District, we might well not think of the surface lines and the tubes as a common network.

 

I think in many ways, it would have been more logical to band the surface lines in with the main line companies. Which of the Big Four would get which line, I dare not say - the Hammersmith and City to the GWR is the only obvious one. Alternatively, LPTB should have taken the lot, plus the Waterloo and City and the various urban and suburban commuter lines, though no doubt the Big Four would have fought tooth-and-nail against this (particularly the Southern).

 

As for the Northern City line, (throws down smoke grenade, runs away in the confusion)

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Sir Eric Geddes was a North Eastern Railway man originally...  However, I'd suggest that the Metropolitan would have become a GWR and LNER (ex Great Central) joint operation, thanks to their interests in the Chilterns.  District trains ran over London Tilbury & Southend lines (later owned by the Midland Railway) in the east and London & South Western tracks to Richmond and Wimbledon in the west, so it would be logical for the District to become a Southern and LMS joint line, like the Somerset & Dorset.  Thus maintaining the Circle service would have involved all 4 mainline groups!

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I'll say that there were lots of ROD's - We still had a few of them operating in the 1970s in Australia! As far as I am aware, the only surviving one in the UK was a GCR 8K, whilst the only ones built for the ROD still surviving are in Australia.

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