Thatcher Survives-So Does British Rail

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by SadSprinter, Dec 31, 2017.


Which Tory Leader do you think could beat Blair?

  1. Michael Portillo

    39 vote(s)
  2. John Redwood

    1 vote(s)
  3. Ken Clarke

    26 vote(s)
  4. Michael Heseltine

    11 vote(s)
  5. Malcolm Rifkind

    0 vote(s)
  6. Cecil Parkinson

    1 vote(s)
  7. Margret Thatcher

    38 vote(s)
  8. Gillian Shepherd

    0 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Threadmarks: Part 1: 1990-1992- The Fall and Rise of Margret Thatcher

    SadSprinter Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2017
    London, England
    I enjoyed reading another thread on this forum, detailing the possible events that would play out for the old publically owned British Rail, should Labour leader Neil Kinnock win the 1992 British General Election, halting the advance of the Conservatives who would privatise BR. As I like trains, writing, politics and alternate history-so I decided to speculate the events that could have played out for British Rail should John Major have never risen to power. In this timeline, we're going to ask the question-what would have happened to British Rail should Margret Thatcher survived her 1990 leadership challenge?

    I have tried to pin down generally what might have happened. Of course, it's not entirely accurate, partly because I've only used what I can easily and cheaply find such as; Tanya Jackson's The Nation's Railway, Chris Green's The Intercity Story and the Network South East Story, various online newspaper articles from the area and gauged Margret Thatcher's personality from the book-Mrs Thatcher's Revolution by Peter Jenkins. In order to keep the timeline as accurate as possible, I would have to have trawled through National Archives records at Kew, numerous government records and probably even conducted interviews with people from that era. If I were making a book for publishing, I would have done so. But for a forum post, I'd have to use as much resources as I can with as little time and money as possible.

    First, before we jump in- some real history:

    The road to privatisation lasted about 10 years. In the mid-1980s, the Thatcher government privatised many non-core assets of BR. Such as its advertising and hotel arms, and Sealink-BR’s ferry services. Thatcher herself, was always against privatising BR in its entirety. However, in 1988, her transport secretary-Cecil Parkinson, declared in a Tory conference speech the Conservative commitment to the future privatisation of BR. Thatcher was not pleased. Nonetheless, a year later in 1989, Parkinson declared privatisation a matter of "not if and when but how". Coupled with the downturn in the economy in 1990 freezing BR’s investment programmes and the rise of John Major, who relentlessly pursued railway privatisation, BR as we knew it finally died on the 1st April 1994. An April fool’s joke too far, perhaps.

    So how would this alternate timeline play out? Before we begin, I'll say I haven't written this timeline with any political bias to glorify or scorn any politician or Party, nor have I written it as a platform to fantasise about a glorious, perfect railway under BR. Some things may be better and some things may be worse than our own timeline, but I've tried to write it was as much reason and little personal feelings as possible. I don’t think British Rail would have become a super railway if it was never privatised, with an infinite amount of passenger numbers and electrification as far as the eye can see, but generally I think the investment we saw in the railways from the early 2000s to the present would of possibly of happened in the 1990s to mid-2000s.The 90s would definitely not have been the quiet era of change and uncertainty it was in our timeline, but I think for BR to have been a truly successful railway, it would have needed robust government support from decades before.

    Our story begins in December 1990-Thatcher wins her leadership challenge.

    The reasons why are unimportant. Perhaps the public backlash from the poll tax was not as bad as in our timeline. Perhaps threre was no Party favourite over who would replace Thatcher and the leadership election tilted to Maggie's favour, or perhaps she simply took a gamble to see challenge to the end which somehow payed off. Whatever it was, Thatcher survives another close encounter with the death of for her premiership.

    For the country, the Party and Thatcher herself, her victory was bittersweet-but mostly bitter. Her victory was slight and she commanded less than 10% of a majority. To make things worse, her party was divided at what she should do, as many in the party were certain the Tories would be finished in the forthcoming 1992 General Election. Polls were predicting a Labour win in 1992, the Press reported sensationalist articles of a possible pro-Europe, ‘one nation’ Tory breakaway party led by Heseltine himself (which he denied on several occasions). But for Thatcher herself, she was more bullish than ever. She was always a woman attracted to power and revelled in her high profile meeting with Gorbochev in Moscow back in '87. A new decade had dawned, and for her, it was yet more fertile ground for her premiership.


    The first thing Thatcher did after victory was perform a cabinet reshuffle, which for the case of BR, might have been the one single action that saved it from privatisation. The Westland Affair was still in the back of her mind which was one of the rare occassions she was reduced to tears, and she knew too well her own party could be her worst enemy. Europe was another huge thorn in her side-she was an outright Eurosceptic, but much of her party such as the infamous Heseltine, were staggeringly pro-European. Railway privatisation was another loaded gun barrel which pointed at her. So, with the foresight of another bitter ideological spat that could bring down her government, she displaced the pro-privatisation Cecil Parkinson as Transport Secretary and sent him elsewhere. Can't be too careful over who could be an enemy in the future. She would appoint a Transport Secretary either loyal enough to Thatcher to leave the privatisation of BR alone, or be against it entirely.

    Over at BR, there were quiet sighs of relief. Moreover, latest polls were showing Labour with a double point lead against the Tories, meaning the privatisation of BR would be too contentious for the Tories to even talk about. Should Labour get in, which at the time looked incredibly likely, BR would be truly safe. However, it was not all fanfare at 222 Marylebone Road (BR's headquarters)-BR had been facing terrible problems as the golden age of the 1980s sectorisation had worn off and the 90s recession began to tear into BR’s passenger numbers. Network South East was crumbling on the Kent Coast and LTS sub-sectors, Thameslink was looking further as a pipe dream and over on Intercity, a modernisation of the WCML was badly overdue.


    Very quickly, the problem of railway privatisation had fallen to the bottom of the Prime Minister's list of problems. Instead, Thatcher's focus turned to the floundering British economy which by early 1991 was in a very bad state. While a recession was englufing most developed countries around the world, it was in Thatcher's mind that it was the high interest rates, caused by the insistence of her previous chancellor-Nigel Lawson to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. She had performed two cabinet reshuffles within two years, her infamous "Poll Tax" had caused riots on the streets in cities if there was one true redeeming factor she could use to give her the slightest of chances to be the PM in '92, it would be to stop the economy from falling off a cliff.

    In January 1991, Margret Thatcher a drastic 5% cut in interest rates, bring the level down to 8%-how it was back in 1988.

    Naturally, this caused further bitter devision in her Party. Cutting the interests rates that low essentially was a de facto decleration of exiting the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. Pro-Europe MPs lead by Michael Heseltine and Ken Clarke along with Nigel Lawson, attempted to bring down the government's descsion to lower intrest rates and effectively abbandon Britain's membership of the ERM by calling for a Parliamentary vote. However, their attempted rebellion ended before it began when it was found over 100 Conservative MPs would accept a bill to leave the ERM. Thatcher herself, did not want the political and economic turbulance of leaving the ERM so soon after joining, and confided with her new Chancellor of the Excheqour that she would, if re-elected in 1992, bring Britain out of the ERM.

    "Why am I cutting interests rates? Because I will not destory the British economy in favour of the fortunes of the German economy!"-Margret Thatcher, Prime Minister's Questions-29th January 1991.

    Over at British Rail, the cut in interest rates slowed the deterioration of the economy and thus, the Networker and Intercity programmes were cautiously going ahead as planned.

    However, to take the privatisation element off the table for ever, Thatcher had met with the then chairman of BR-Sir Bob Reid and managing director of Network South East-Chris Green in March 1991, to discuss what could be done to improve BR. “The way I see it,” she said apparently to Green, “the railways serve no other purpose other than an advert for the motor industry”. Thatcher apparently gave them a long and sanctimonious lecture that the railways were too inefficient and too badly run and subsequently were causing a great deal of strife for the Conservative Party. Green's reply, was a rather curt- "The person you should be complaining to, is the one that holds the purse strings."

    Humbled after the meeting, but more likely desperate to sweep the burden of BR under the mat forever, the government came out with a list of reforms, in the early spring of 1991 on how to improve BR. These weren't completely radical ideas. In fact, they were exactly the initiates that should have been handed to BR decades ago to make life easier for it. These were:

    1. BR would be allowed to make a profit, and not have to hand over any funds to the Treasury.

    2. BR would delegate much of the passenger operations to the business sectors, who would be able to pay for projects with cheap loans, private sector investment and private bank loans.

    3. The government would pay for large infrastructure projects when needed, although that project would be incorporated as a separate company in its own right, then private sector bidders would pay back the government and thus pay back their investment via a return on BR's receipts.

    4. The business sectors would be able to lease their own trains from the suppliers.

    In addition, the government established the "Strategic Railway Commission", which became a thorn in the Railway's side until its scrapping under Blair in 2000. The SRC was set up to make sure that BR had allotted spare paths and physical infrastructure to private competitors. It also actively scoured Britain looking for private companies to run train services to compete against BR. In effect, all it managed to do was stop BR from running lines at max capacity, in order to save the paths for future operators. Sidings at Crewe Basford Hall freight yards were left empty, waiting for future private freight operators which eventually came, but didn’t use the sidings. It cost over £2.5 million a year to run and caused maybe the same amount in lost revenue to BR.

    BR was mostly pleased about the reforms, aside from the third clause which to them seemed like a backdoor to privatisation. However, with the interest rates now at the 1988 level, Network South East would just be able to afford borrowing £150 million out of the £350 million for the modernisation of the Kent Coast services. With the government providing a further £50 million grant. BR's investment was lumped in with a general cycle of public investment that government was pumping into the economy, to see it through the economic downturn-and of course as a bone to the public in next years election.
    In reality, the reforms were working really well-conveniently well, in time for the General Election. NSE would have had enough money from its own pockets to complete more or less the entire Networker Programme by 1998.

    Back in Number 10 however, panic was starting to take hold. Opinion polls had not shifted much by the autumn of '91, and the Tories were destined to lose it seemed. Rumblings of another leadership election had continued throughout the summer, so it was decided what the Tories needed was an infrastructure project. A huge one. One to paint a busy, fast paced Britain for the 90s. One that would paint a bright, prosperous future after the recession. One to, hopefully, pull Britain out the recession. But what would it be? Heathrow expansion? Too London centric. A new motorway? To Thatcherite. A Channel Tunnel? Already being built.

    The answer came in Intercity 250.

    Intercity 250 was the perfect pet project the Tories needed to sway public onion for the creeping General Election. Not only would it be a major economic lifeline for the Midlands and North, but would paint a picture that perhaps ardent, anti-public service transport Thatcherism was softening. It was announced in time for the autumn statement in 1991, that the Government would provide £500 million for the Intercity 250 scheme. While it would be payed back to the Treasury by a private finance buyback scheme. It was more of a political project than a railway project. A massive mock up of a power car was commissioned and placed on the station concourse at Manchester Piccadilly in December 1991. It drew a lot of publicity, particularly with a picture of a smiling Maggie in the train’s "cockpit" as it was called grinning like a schoolboy with her fingers on one of the cabs many buttons. Around this time, the name “Intercity 250” quietly dropped and replaced with “Intercity Super Train”. A name which was denied by BR several times to have come from their own marketing department, hinting it may have been from the Conservatives’ public relations department.


    As a last-ditch effort to win votes, a massive new plan for railway modernisation was taken up. This was deemed as a "one-off" investment that would kickstart BR (Don’t think we like you now, railways), along with the previous reforms in the hope BR would rocket it under its own weight. A total investment, including the Intercity 250 projects of £1.1 billion over the next 10 years was drawn up, involving-

    · Electrifying remaining suburban lines in Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Edinburgh with a massive bulk of class 323s. The “Regional Networker”- Regional Railways impressively dubbed it.

    · The construction of the Main Line and Universal Networkers

    · Thameslink

    Ironically, as this was the first major cash injection BR had in decades, NSE had now enough freedom and money to lease its entire Universal Networker fleet for the Great Northern, LTS and Thameslink lines. In January 1992, towards the end of the production of the class 465 Kent Link Networker Units, NSE ordered, a lease of 35 class 471 vehicles and a small batch of the class 381/1 Universal Networkers for the flagging LTS routes. The 471s were to begin construction at what was BREL York by the end of the year, using traction packages from Brush, while the 381s were allocated to GEC at Washwood Heath. Politically, this is exactly what Thatcher needed-it was on her watch that railway privatisation was so passionately scrapped, so she had to make the nationalised railway work, or fear another "affair" and the threat of a coup.

    However, railway privatisation was about to be put on the back burner for a while, or at least before it became part of an either bigger weight to dethrone Thatcher-the Maastricht Treaty. On the 1st December 1991, EC leaders met in Maastricht for the drafting of the treaty. The fallout of the Treaty was already being felt in the Conservative Party, as a much Europhile core began to push Thatcher to sign the treaty. There were no outright cries for federalism within her Party, but they knew what her Party opinion on Brussels were. “Don’t go there.” A close aide of hers told George H Bush on the matter in 1991. But the pro-Europe wing of her Party was becoming increasingly frustrated with her lack of will to meet the Treaty halfway-sign it, but asking for redrafts and concessions. No. There will be no treaty for Thatcher. Ironically, it proved to be a godsend her election campaign, she attacked it every which way she could. Most notably, during a House of Commons debate on the Treaty in late 1991, Thatcher, in an unprecedented attack on her own party declared "I said this once, and I will say this again-'No. No. No!' No to the Euro, no to ERM, no to Euro Federalism and no to Maastricht!" The House erupted in howls of rage and applause on both sides of the chamber. It took the then Speaker of the House of Commons-Bernard Weatherill, almost five minutes to bring the House to order again. Ken Clarke stormed out the chamber. The anti-Brussels Bennite faction of Labour stood to applause Thatcher. Newer Labour MPs-such as Gordon Brown-MP form Dunfermline East and Dianne Abbott-MP for Hackney were furious with them. Apparently, Kinnock had rung Thatcher that evening, congratulating her at the courage to take on her own party the way she did. A week later, she declared once more "I was ticked once to fall for Brussels by joining the ERM, I won't be tricked again into signing Maastricht. I will rather be stabbed in the back 1000 times than willingly sign away Britain's most precious democracy by members of my own Party!" Then, she turned around and faced her benches "You know who you are, shame on you all!". “She’s on our side!” The Sun and Daily Mail announced on their front pages the next day.

    By 1992, Thatcher’s fortunes really were beginning to clear up. Kinnock, who was enjoying a double point lead in 1990, was reduced to being neck and neck. Labours campaign was “too flaccid” according to senior Labour officials at the unstoppable ferment that seemed to be gripping Thatcher, and it was true. It didn't help that Liberals and Labour focused primarily on the fairly plain issues of the NHS and Education, while Thatcher made withering speeches about Europe and democracy, "a vote for Liberals is a vote for Deolors" was a famous Tory slogan before the election. Kinnock, rather clumsily branded Intercity 250 as a "rich man's toy" when the cities of Lancaster, Preston and Crewe were crying out for it. But it was too late, the public was not enthusiastic enough for Labour or the Liberals. On the 9th of April 1992, the election was held. Britain, and Europe too, held their breaths.

    Would BR’s "90s dream" ever come to fruition? Would NSE get its treasured and much yearned for Networkers? What about Thameslink? Crossrail? Would Intercity 250 ever come about? And what on Earth would become of the unloved, forgotten Regional Railways? For British Rail, let alone Britain, the 90s were proving to look very interesting indeed.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
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  2. Southern pride Well-Known Member

    Jul 13, 2017


    Please Update
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  3. SadSprinter Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2017
    London, England
    Glad you liked! Part two is on its way which would see us take British Rail into the 1990s. It also inevitably gets more political as well, but don't get too attached to Thatcher ;)

    I just want more Networkers. Much more.
  4. NOMISYRRUC Rostrum Camera Ken Morse

    Nov 7, 2014
    Although I'm no great fan of Mrs T in general and the way she treated the railways in particular her government has to be given credit for approving more electrification projects IOTL than at any time since the Modernisation Plan of 1955. In particular the ECML electrification approved in 1984 and completed in 1991. No less than 6 schemes were approved between 1981 and 1984 for the electrification of a total of 190 route miles at a cost of £199 million. The ECML scheme when originally approved was to cost £306 million at 1984 prices.

    IIRC the only major scheme approved by the previous Labour Government was St Pancras to Bedford of 52 route miles, authorised in 1976 and completed in 1983 at a cost of £80 million. This included a link from Dock Junction, St Pancras down to the Widened Lines and on to Moorgate in the City, which had a 5-year existence as the "Midland City Line" before becoming part of "Thameslink".

    The only major scheme approved by the Heath Government was the Kings Cross Suburban authorised in 1971 and completed in 1977. Then before that there was the Weaver Junction to Glasgow section of the WCML completed in 1974, but IIRC approved towards the end of the First Wilson Government.

    So I think that the a follow-on programme after the completion of the ECML scheme by a surviving Thatcher Government is plausible. However, John Major had a £50 billion budget deficit to contend with and ITTL so will Mrs T.

    I hope the electrification of the remaining suburban lines around Manchester and Leeds is part of a scheme to electrify the York-Leeds-Manchester-Liverpool. Allowing the Newcastle to Liverpool trains to be electrically hauled. IIRC its about 160 miles from Newcastle to Liverpool and just over half of it was electrified in the ECML scheme. It's also about 130 miles from Hull to Liverpool and 80 miles of that would have been electrified as part of the York to Liverpool scheme. Electrifying the remaining 50 miles would allow the Hull to Newcastle as well as the Hull to Liverpool trains to be electrically hauled.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
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  5. SadSprinter Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2017
    London, England
    I think Thatcher's railway investment played into her hand for the 1987 election and was a big stick to fight off Labour. I think with her Party hanging by the thread it would have made more sense for a 90s Thatcher to increase railway investment. If privatisation didn't put a halt in railway investment for 10-15 years then I think we would have had a robust railway by the year 2007 (factoring in very British dithering) instead of still waiting on Crossrail, Thameslink and electrification at the end of the 2010s as we currently are.

    I think Intercity 250 would happen anyway despite the economy, for the same reason Labour proposed HS2 back in 2009 in the then financial downturn-it creates the illusion that reocovery is just around the corner, or even the situation is not as bad as it seems. The only reason why Intercity 250 was abandoned in our timeline is because Major gave £150 million for BR to lease both the IC250 trains and the Networkers, which wasn't enough for both. With Major out the way things could look more interesting.
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  6. QTXAdsy That Fifer

    Sep 25, 2017
    The Kingdom of Fife
    Would a surviving BR be able to reopen Beeching routes such as Borders Railways opening much earlier than OTL?

    Find it funny to picture Thatcher trying to reopen several closed Scottish routes in a desperate attempt to get Scottish support but I think the damage would've been done. :p
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  7. NOMISYRRUC Rostrum Camera Ken Morse

    Nov 7, 2014
    On the subject of the suburban lines in Manchester will Manchester to Bury be converted to 25kv AC as part of this programme? And while they're at it the Merseylink lines be upgraded too?

    IIRC Thameslink was completed before December 1990. Is that a typo for Crossrail?
  8. Analytical Engine Monarchist Collectivist Federalist

    Mar 12, 2007
    UK, EU (for the moment), Earth
    Trains. Glorious trains!
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  9. mandead Resurrected

    Sep 24, 2006
    North Lincolnshire, England
    Thatcher wouldn't have won in '92, though. :p
  10. Finbarr the Fair Well-Known Member

    Nov 10, 2014
    South Ayrshire, UK
    It seems implausible I agree but not ASB. Kinnock was perfectly capable of self destructing.
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  11. Devvy Idiot. Donor

    Feb 6, 2011
    Quite enjoyed that, nice start. Interested to see where you take it!

    On the subject of the books, which edition of Chris Green's "The Intercity Story" do you have? The original edition has a lot of material missing from the second edition (especially on IC250), and gives a more 1990ish perspective on the future. I'd also suggest Gordon Petitt's "The Regional Railways Story" if you can spare the pounds; it's another excellent write up on the regions with many little morsels to find.

    I swing back and forth on IC250 as to whether it was a good plan or not. My gut feeling is that it would be an earlier example of Railtrack's WCML fiasco; a completely money hole, as the infrastructure investments to give higher speed running would be huge along the line. Using the GCML would also require digging significantly through the Chilterns - them having just fought off Cublington Airport a few decades ago, and the OTL whinges about HS2, it'll be interesting to see. If it evolves a bit, then it could be quite interesting.

    The SRC is an interesting twist. I think OTL privatisation was a disaster, but I think there are ways that it could have been privatised which would have been vastly better. My feeling is that it was intentionally privatised that way in OTL to a) fill the Treasury coffers at the expense of the rail passenger and b) make it near impossible practically to reverse.

    Completely agree; somewhat ironically, Thatcher was has been the most pro-rail Prime Minister since the Second World War. Several electrification projects as well as the project kickoff and treaty for the Channel Tunnel signed off on.
  12. Jono Well-Known Member

    May 8, 2016
    I like I like...
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  13. SadSprinter Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2017
    London, England
    I edited the timeline slightly, following the publication of this very useful article-, detailing that Thatcher had tried to persuade Major in 1991 to reduce interests rates. If this happened, its possible that the economic downturn would not have been as bad, and BR's fortunes and list of investments may not have to have been so severely cut.

    That's why I don't think Chris Green would have to beg Kent County Council for money for the class 471 Networkers. It would have been in Margret Thatcher's interest to keep infrastructure rolling both for economic and political sake, and if the economy fares much better under Thatcher BR likely would not of had its investment cut. Thameslink 2000 and Crossrail, however? Lets not get too ahead of ourselves.

    I don't think this would happen, because the plan for a light rail line in Manchester had been laid down in the 1980s and had begun construction by 1991. I think any large scale electrification in the Regions would have taken place in '95 or '96.

    My mistake, I was talking about "Thameslink 2000" which was the precusor to today's Thameslink Programme.

    I don't think so, because the idea of reversing Beeching really came out in the last 10 years or so. I think in the 90s British Rail would focus on modernisation of existing routes and rolling stock and delegating more power to the service sectors. But who knows, we will have to see.

    I have been reading the latest version of "The Intercity Story" which deppressingly, only talks about how it was cancelled and does not go into any great detail of the plans. I would like to purchase the 1994 edition though, and have seen some cheap second hand copies on Amazon. Unfortuantley, the nearest Waterstones to me that stocks the Regional Railways Story appears to be in Cambridge-and I live in London!

    Personally, I would prefer Intercity 250 over HS2 as I find normal railways more interesting. I think Intercity 250 would have worked well up until today's Very High Frequency timetable would be implemented, then you will just get the problem we have today-too diverse a mix of trains on the fast lines south of Rugby.

    I think the construction of Intercity 250 wouldn't have been so bad as in the WCRM in our timeline. If you have a look at this fantasitc Guardian article, it explains in full detail what made the WCRM go so wrong. Essentially, it was privatisation rather than the actual task at hand.

    Regarding Railway Privatisation, Tanya Jackson's "The Nation's Railway" gives a pretty good description of what happened. It seemed Major initally just wanted the "Big Four" back, but listened to the Treasury who wanted the franchising model that would yield greater returns. Other crazy plans was to auction off individual train paths to private operators which, for obvious reasons, was not taken up.

    Part 2 is in progress and will be posted soon!
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
  14. NOMISYRRUC Rostrum Camera Ken Morse

    Nov 7, 2014
    That's a pity.

    Is there any possibility of upgrading the Merseyrail system from 3rd rail to overhead in your TL? IIRC Hooton to Chester and Ellesmere Port were electrified in the early 1990s. If Merseyrail was converted to the overhead system in the early 1990s there would be a very strong case to fill the gaps between Ormskirk, Kirkby, Hunts Cross, Ellesmere Port, Chester and the WCML/Manchester plus Wigan to Southport.
  15. SadSprinter Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2017
    London, England
    I think eventually she would warm to this title, in the book "Mrs Thatcher's Revolution" she used it as a campaign tatic for the 1987 election, citing the recent electrification of the BedPan, Great Eastern and East Coast Mainlines. I think therefore BR could have done quite well under her in the 90s. But its not all as simple as that...
  16. SadSprinter Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2017
    London, England
    I think to get 25KV to Bury would be hard to weave as an alternative timeline, the next best thing would be PiccVicc, but that would require a divergence in the 70s to make the then Central Government handover the funds to GMPTE. I am not sure how that would have happened, and believe from speaking to an industry insider at the time the GMPTE had their hearts set on a tram system from the get-go, but I am not too sure.

    Wigan to Southport will definetley happen at some point.

    I have not thought much about Liverpool I will admit. I think this probably would happen under New Labour, so maybe in the early 2000s as a replacement to the Liverpool Tram scheme. On the other hand, I think RR would want to replicate Liverpool's Metro like railway in neighbouring Manchester which would spread the wires towards Liverpool. So dual voltage trains at the very least is very possible, and a lot from London might be looking for a new home soon...
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  17. Devvy Idiot. Donor

    Feb 6, 2011
    Agreed - I can't see BR splurging cash on a struggling RR sector willingly. The only way I can see it happening is an integrated rail project, heavily sponsored by the local metropolitan county to make some kind of heavy rail Crossrail project (ie. Picc-Vic) somewhere. But the cash required for that will make it bloody difficult to get funded by the Treasury (erm...again Picc-Vic? ;) ).

    The only physical bookshop I've found which has a decent rail section is Foyles on Charing Cross Road in London. It won't have the 1994 edition of the IC Story (bear with me and I'll give you a rundown of it this week if you want), but it's got a decent selection of books in there. Otherwise Amazon!

    As always, it depends on the actual implementation. Moving block signalling is never going to work on the WCML. And above 125mph speeds run in to problems unless it's a dedicated high speed section due to signalling requirement and slower trains. But if it's only around WCML-Watford <-> GCML <-> WCML-Rugby, the time savings are not going to be great for the money spent, and the capacity is still restricted along the fast lines of the WCML between Euston and Watford.

    That's one of the few books I'm missing from my collection, but had a quick browse of it once in Waterstones @ Leicester Square, and the info seems to be the same info as in all the other books.

    I think from memory rail managers wanted a "BR PLC" along the lines of Deutsche Bahn - a privatised large BR company. I think that'd be one of the more successful methods - it would change little, but would introduce far better accounting practices in to BR. As you say, the path-based sales was a non-starter, and I think reintroducing the old 4 sectors is a massive step backwards as it would eventually destroy the effective NSE and IC sectors, doing away with the targeted business sectors. The regions would have duplication of work and little integration, and god knows how something like Thameslink or Crossrail would have happened as they would be cross-region. The current franchising method was the only one the Tories would have gone for as it's profitable and "introduces competition" (I state with a heavy dose of irony), and has an apparently successful implementation in Sweden.

    The ROSCOs are an unmitigated disaster though; I really think life could have been much better if the rail operators physically owned the rolling stock, with it being transferred with the staff et al to the next operator each time.
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  18. NOMISYRRUC Rostrum Camera Ken Morse

    Nov 7, 2014
    It was my mistake too. I just saw that I typed Merseylink in Post 7, when I meant Mersey Rail.
  19. NOMISYRRUC Rostrum Camera Ken Morse

    Nov 7, 2014
    Is a cut in interest rates possible with the UK in the ERM?

    However, would the UK be in the ERM in the first place? If Mrs Thatcher is strong enough to defeat the December 1990 leadership challenge is she also strong enough to prevent the UK joining the ERM in October 1990?
  20. Threadmarks: Part 2: Summer 1992- Maastricht: Thathcer's Last Showdown

    SadSprinter Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2017
    London, England
    My second post is taking ages to write, who would know the 1990s would be so different if John Major wasn't in power. So I don't keep you waiting, here is part 1 of part 2. Setting the political scene of the time before we get back into the most important part again-Networkers trains...lots of trains.

    May 1992

    On the evening of the 10th May 1992, the United Kingdom held its breath. Polling had closed for the Election around 10 o’clock that evening, and every exit poll predicted a hung Parliament. The public knew the Tories would be finished-no question, and for Margret Thatcher, it was no question for her that she would never be in a hung Parliament with either the Labour or the Liberals.

    Those last days before the election were bad for Thatcher, and on the election night itself, Thatcher barely left her office in 10 Downing Street. In a 2008 Guardian interview, a former aide for Margret Thatcher shed some light on how the Prime Minister looked on the days prior to the 10th May:

    She looked bad, very bad. She shuffled around No. 10 like a ghost. It wasn’t the thought of losing the election that got to her, it was sharing the power with Labour. It was to her, a most humiliating defeat.”

    If the results were a hung Parliament, she was to resign there and then. Over the course of the evening of the 10th May, the PM’s phone was jumping into life every five minutes. Her office door was propped open as Minister after Minister shuffled in declaring their support for her-some more reluctantly than others. At around 11pm that evening, Thatcher sat down with Cecil Parkinson who asked her one last time who she was going to support for her replacement. According to files released only last year, Parkinson had to convince her not throw her support behind himself for Party leadership, knowing that his earlier affair in 1983 would bring down the entire Party in the public eye. The trouble was, all the publicly affable politicians were all Europhilles-who Thatcher was personally at war with. Kenneth Clarke and Michael Heseltine were big Party heavyweights, but after the battle she was having with the ERM and Maastricht, and neither one of them wanted to be thrown into leadership at a time where they’ll be eaten alive by backbenchers almost immediately. In the end, Thatcher and Parkinson both decided she would support whoever would come to the fore and Michael Portillo was one her favourites.

    “Poor thing-this was the woman who ended the Cold War. Now she looked as if she was waiting in the gallows.”- Cecil Parkinson, December 2013.

    However, as the evening grew on, close colleagues and secretaries to the Prime Minister urged Dennis Thatcher to convince her to get some sleep, more than her usual four hours, because whatever the outcome, tomorrow would be a long day.

    At around 7 o’clock the next morning, Cecil Parkinson along with Norma Tebbit burst into Margret Thatcher’s office, to find her sitting pale faced and wide eyed at her desk.

    We walked in, she looked dreadful, as if she had been sick. She looked at us timidly and asked “Well…? How many seats did we lose?” We both shuffled and eventually I said, “Prime Minister, we have gained 10, you have won.” She looked at us as if we were playing a cruel joke.”

    Other Downing Street officials later said it took Thatcher all day to come to terms she had won, Michael Heseltine said “She did not look like she really wanted to win.”

    But regardless, as the country and the rest of the world looked on it shock, Neil Kinnock for the second and final time contested to Margret Thatcher, she was the Prime Minister once more, but the public, her Party and herself knew she would not see the whole term out. As she delivered her first victory interview outside of Number 10 on that spring morning in 1992, history asked-“how did this happen?”

    Aside from her skilled handling of the recession, and defying the European Community to keep interest rates low enough to keep the economy more or less stable, there was one fundamental reason why the Tories won the 1992 election-the old “Falklands Factor”. Over her past 13 years in Government, Margret Thatcher’s lowest times were always preceded by rousing patriotism. As the early 80s recession brought unemployment to 3,000,000, the Falklands War catapulted Thatcher to political stardom. As her popularity began to wane again in the mid-80s, it was her high-profile meetings with the Kremlin and her firm belief of Britain’s own nuclear deterrent that threw Thatcher into office again tin 1987. And despite the disastrous Poll Tax and the 90s economic downturn, it was Thatcher’s relentless battle with Europe and her own party for “the very existence of Britain”, as she once referred to it as in a pre-election television interview. She threw the Patriotic bone at the public at the right time. And once again, despite everything, Thatcher was still the Prime Minister in 1992.

    But her victory was not set in stone, now came the most terrifying part. Her final battle with Europe.

    The Conservative Party was no longer at open warfare, but it was seething with discontent. The surprise election win for Thatcher showed the Europhiles the public had spoken, they wanted no more Europe-Thatcher promise the country the UK would leave the ERM, that the Maastricht treaty would never be signed, that she meant. But that did not stop there being a toxic atmosphere in the Palace of Westminster.

    She poisoned the mind of the electorate. Pure and simple.”- Ken Clarke’s memoirs.

    The first major hurdle for Thatcher was the forthcoming Dutch Maastricht referendum only a few weeks away in June and the French one in September. Privately, Margret Thatcher had been convinced by Cecil Parkinson to ask for “Sweeping concessions” for Britain instead of outright refusal to sign the Treaty should Denmark and France both sign the Treaty-or risk losing friends in Europe.

    At the time, for a government in so much turmoil, Intercity 250 seemed like the least important thing in the world...
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
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