Saturday, 17 September 2011

Changing companies, rich heritage

The railways in England have a fascinating history that includes the oscillation between fragmented commercial railway lines and centralized nationalized business and back. I can remember the British Rail and the delightful easiness of buying tickets and receiving information. No different rules on refunds or the definition of peak hour. Nevertheless, in the beginning the railways were private enterprises and different companies carried passengers through East Midlands and other regions. The current East Midland Trains continues the history of Midland Railway in the area, which ran passengers from 1844.

The Beeching Report and its aftermath killed many lines in the East Midlands and elsewhere. The last mainline to be built, Great Central Railway, disappeared and was partly dismantled but continues as a double track heritage railway company running steam trains from Leicester North to Loughborough. East Midlands has other heritage rail routes as well. Colliery trains run from Snibston to Coalville and the former sidings site in order to celebrate the vanished coal mining transportation around Coalville. The vanished lines and engineering features are presented along the heritage trail in the north-western Leicestershire that commemorates the early Leicester and Swannington railway that became part of Midland Railway. An additional steam trains on Battlefield Line Railway are run by the Shackerston Railway Society in southern Leicestershire passing the Bosworth battlefield. It is the last remaining part of the former Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway from the late 19th century.

The marvel of Leicestershire railway heritage can be named jointly ‘Central Midland railway’. This term is a conglomerate of different main companies, which created the coal transport system to Leicester in the earlier part of 19th century and the period stations of the last mainline in England in memory of their once stylish service to London. It is difficult to say, which of the companies and railways was or is the greatest railway achievement. Are the early engineering achievements more important than the modern-day heritage experiences at the period stations and how does one evaluate a trip to a famous battle site by a steam train?

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