Big Four (British Railway Companies) - Big Four British Railway Companies Joint Activities - B

Big Four (British Railway Companies) - B

Big Four British Railway Companies Joint Activities

Although nominally in competition, the four companies worked together on projects of significance to the railway industry as a whole.

During World War II, the railway companies' managements were united, effectively becoming one company, under the direction of the Railway Executive Committee. The railways were hired by the Government from 1 January 1941, to continue for one year after the end of the war. In return, a fixed Annual Rent of £43,468,705 was payable, divided between the companies according to a set formula.

A commission was set up under the chairmanship of Sir Ernest Lemon to consider the post-war planning and reconstruction of the railways, with representatives of the Big Four and the London Passenger Transport Board.

Big Four British Railway Companies Joint Lines

Each company operated a number of lines jointly with one or more of the others, a situation which arose when the former joint owners of a route were placed into different post-grouping companies. Most of these were situated at or near the boundaries between two or more of the companies, however there were some notable examples which extended beyond this hinterland zone.

The number of jointly operated lines was greatly reduced by the grouping but a substantial number survived, including the Cheshire Lines Committee, the Forth Bridge Railway Company, the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway (all LMS/LNER) and the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway (LMS/SR). At in excess of 180 track miles, the M&GN was the largest jointly operated network in Great Britain, and extended from Peterborough to the East Anglian coast.

It was wholly incorporated into the LNER in 1936. The S&D connected Bath and Bournemouth, and wound its way through territory otherwise dominated by the GWR. The LMS was responsible for its locomotives and the Southern for the infrastructure. Initially, the S&D had its own locomotives but these were absorbed into LMS stock in 1930. Further simplification of the railway map, long advocated, was not achieved until nationalisation. One joint operation, the Fishguard & Rosslare Railways & Harbours Company, which Irish independence had rendered international, survives to this day.


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