Tom Fort

Beeching’s Blunder

Eleven Minutes Late: A Train Journey to the Soul of Britain

By

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It so happened that in between finishing Matthew Engel’s sad and funny lament for the fate of Britain’s railways and sitting down to write something about it, I travelled on the Purbeck Line between Swanage and Corfe Castle. Everything about it was perfect. The sun shone from a flawless sky. Swanage Station, in contrasting shades of green, was decked in cream bunting. The guards had on black waistcoats with watch chains and brass buttons to go with black caps, black trousers, black shoes, crisp white shirts and the friendliest of smiles. There were trolleys stacked with authentic old-fashioned trunks. The tickets were the little cardboard rectangles of old.

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