Just over 50 years ago the first Beeching Report – The Re-shaping of the British Railways – changed the face of British transport forever. In this short talk we’ll discuss the world the railways built – through engineering, craftsmanship, aesthetics, and the democratizing of travel. This is not an uncritical look at the railway age. The cost of building the railways was large in terms of loss of life, corrupt business dealings, and the irreparable impact on communities, often moved against their will to make way for trains. But the politically resonant point is that the railways represented an epic era of investment, of belief in infrastructure, in engineering and building, and the ability to make beautiful, lasting things of utility for all to use and enjoy. How can we think more imaginatively about our transport today, in ecological, social and thus political ways?

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