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Books on Railway Management?

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Hey all, I'm considering purchasing Terry Gourvish's (rather pricey!) book on BR from 1948 to 1973, are his books any good, and what other books on UK railway managment are available?

 

Thanks

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Gerard Fiennes’s “I tried to run a railway” from about 50 years ago is full of good stuff. So good he was bundled out of the industry for writing it!

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I can’t comment on the book you mention. But in answer to the second part of your question, ‘I Tried To Run A Railway ‘ by Gerry Fiennes is a brilliant read.

 

Regards,

Andy.

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I guess what or why for management books - loads on how not to do it or books on the history of lines that give an insight.  Only a couple of text books for educational purposes specifically on railway management most books are on transport management with a fleeting coverage of railways.

 

Still quite a darkened subject despite many doing it and many not not knowing what they are doing while doing it   :-)  - I guess a common view among workers with only part information !

 

Robert    

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'Steam in the Blood' by Dick Hardy was recommended reading for me when I was a BR management trainee. Very good if you're in to the whole management-staff relationship thing.

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Gerard Fiennes’s “I tried to run a railway” from about 50 years ago is full of good stuff. So good he was bundled out of the industry for writing it!

 

Was that the follow up to Dr Beechings "I tried to ruin a railway"?

 

Mike.

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Was that the follow up to Dr Beechings "I tried to ruin a railway"?

 

Mike.

 

Somewhere on my bookshelves I have a book by Dick Hardy suggesting that Beeching was the saviour of the railway.

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Couple of books by Stephen Poole are worth a read, they cover a slightly later period than Finnes.

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MR Bonavia, 'The organisation of Britains railways'

 

Did Chris Green write an autobiography? Or Bob Reid? Both very capable railway executives

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I read Terry Gourvish's book a few years back. Some observations:

 

1. It is, if I remember correctly, the official business history of BR - Gourvish had access to all the business archives.

2. It is a "top down" history - therefore a lot on political backgrounds to decisions (starting with Nationalisation itself), organisational structure (Railway Executive, BTC, BRB), labour relations (1955 ASLEF strike, pay negotiations), and so on. There is obviously a fair amount on the Modernisation plan and Beeching.

3. It is, therefore, a reasonably "academic" book (Gourvish was a university lecturer), but I found it a good and interesting, if occasionally complex, read.

4. It is not anything like either of the books by Dick Hardy and Gerard Fiennes recommended by posters above - but they are both excellent autobiographical books, and well worth reading anyway.

 

It might be worth seeing if you can get hold of a copy through an inter-library loan via your local library. That's how I got to read it. I subsequently bought a copy, but I was able to get one for about £25, which is a lot less than they seem to be going for at the moment.

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MR Bonavia, 'The organisation of Britains railways'

Did Chris Green write an autobiography? Or Bob Reid? Both very capable railway executives

Agreed although (IMHO) Mr Green sold out to Beardie for twenty pieces of silver.

Still, nobody's perfect!

Chris is still a damned good railwayman, as most of us will know.

 

Always had the utmost respect for Sir Bob, bear in mind that he cut his teeth in the real, cutthroat private sector (Shell) and yet he STILL spoke out against BR's privatisation.

 

Further to that, he made a point of meeting up with and nurturing the mech/elec apprentices on my local watch.

He was the sort of fella who realised that the youngsters are our future way before that idea became fashionable and I will add, that the BR apprentices were tipped off when meeting him to offer their left hands for shaking purposes, as Mr Reid had lost his right arm early on in life.

One railway legend I would've loved to have met.

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I agree with others - "I tried to run a Railway" and "Steam in the Blood" are both recommended reading.

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Couple of books by Stephen Poole are worth a read, they cover a slightly later period than Finnes.

Indeed, Stephens book 'Behind The Crumbling Edge' gives some very interesting insights into the management of BR.

 

Another much older book is 'Man of The Rail' by (?) Pearson.

 

Les

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Inside British rail by Stephen Poole.

On and off the rails by Peter Rather

Both excellent and another recommendation for I tried to run a railway. Which a few weeks ago the bargain bookshop the works were selling for £3

Edited by darrel
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MR Bonavia, 'The organisation of Britains railways'

Did Chris Green write an autobiography? Or Bob Reid? Both very capable railway executives

CEWG did the “NSE Story”, although that is quite late in BR’s era. Gordon Pettitt similarly has the “Regional Railways Story”, which is even later. Many of us felt the industry’s act was much more together by the time of Sectorisation, and Bob Reid Mk 1 is credited with originating and implementing the concept.
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Was that the follow up to Dr Beechings "I tried to ruin a railway"?

 

Mike.

 

You should read Gerry Fiennes' book then - in which he refers to Beeching as 'the good doctor'.  Like many senior, and many not so senior, BR managers Fiennes was very much in favour of what Beeching achieved and the changes he brought to BR.

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Agreed although (IMHO) Mr Green sold out to Beardie for twenty pieces of silver.

Still, nobody's perfect!

Chris is still a damned good railwayman, as most of us will know.

Always had the utmost respect for Sir Bob, bear in mind that he cut his teeth in the real, cutthroat private sector (Shell) and yet he STILL spoke out against BR's privatisation.

Further to that, he made a point of meeting up with and nurturing the mech/elec apprentices on my local watch.

He was the sort of fella who realised that the youngsters are our future way before that idea became fashionable and I will add, that the BR apprentices were tipped off when meeting him to offer their left hands for shaking purposes, as Mr Reid had lost his right arm early on in life.

One railway legend I would've loved to have met.

That was Bob Reid Mk 2. When he arrived I was implementing a hearts and minds project intended to deliver a bigger % spend of the precious investment budget - BR was only achieving about 70% spend every year. When this was explained to him, the new Chairman apparently pointed out that Shell only ever managed a similar success rate......
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Possibly not what the OP was asking, as it is very much a diary and not in a management text book, but I have just finished reading volume two of "Devon Railways: The Area Manager's Diary" by John Heaton and covering the mid 1980s. 

 

The breadth of the Area Manager's task is astonishing (looking at it against the background of today's fragmented railway) with infrastructure and TOC combined, plus freight and parcels (including newspapers). He'll travel in the cab to check on drivers while on route to check signal boxes, calling in on stations and booking offices whilst doing so. I found it fascinating, but then it is an area I know well, and set only a few years before I first got to know it, so that might be a factor. 

 

The business sectors are beginning to make their presence felt, while the Regional structure is still there too, and whilst Heaton isn't generally impressed with the sectors, he has few good words for Swindon HQ either.

 

I certainly hope that there will be further volumes.

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You should read Gerry Fiennes' book then - in which he refers to Beeching as 'the good doctor'. Like many senior, and many not so senior, BR managers Fiennes was very much in favour of what Beeching achieved and the changes he brought to BR.

Yes and No. He famously said "The good Doctor said that rural railways didn't pay their way, which was right, and that could never pay their way, which was wrong".

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Michael Bonavia's British Rail the First 25 Years is a good basic text.

 

For more engineering based content Johnson & Long British Railways Engineering 1948-1980 is well worth it. If nothing else it details who all the regional CMEs CEEs, CCes were etc.

 

Simon

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I can thoroughly recommend all of the books by Terry Gourvish for a thotough understanding of British Railways as a business. Likewise Michael Bonavia's books. Gerard Fiennes' book is a good read but anecdotal rather than an overview. In the same style, I recommend Sir John Eliot's 'on and off the rails'

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