From the start of commercial railways in Britain, companies merged, divided and vanished. In 1923, a new grouping of railways produced four companies, of which the London Midland and Scottish was unique in covering all parts of the United Kingdom.
NAME: LMS Handbook, The London Midland & Scottish Railway 1923-1947
CLASSIFICATION: Book reviews
AUTHOR: David Wragg
PUBLISHER: Haynes Publishing
BINDING: Hard back
SUBJECT: steam, engines, railtrack, technology, reproduction, feeder lines, main lines, decline, nationalization, electrification
DESCRIPTION: From the start of commercial railways in Britain, companies merged, divided and vanished. In 1923, a new grouping of railways produced four companies, of which the London Midland and Scottish was unique in covering all parts of the United Kingdom. The merger of 33 companies to form a giant railway company offered much but not without difficulty and it seems that when the nationalization after WWII was undertaken no one bothered to learn from the mistakes and achievements of the LMS. It is very interesting to compare the fortunes of the Southern Railway and the GWR in sister handbooks by the same author. It is almost as though the 1923 re-grouping of rail companies was intended to produce a number of very different models for comparison. If that was the objective, many opportunities were missed and perhaps the intervention of war, followed by a national socialist government set on nationalizing the means of production and transport, was responsible. LMS was the glamorous railway company with its famous long distance main line express trains, pushing the speed boundaries for steam locomotives. Where Southern Railway was pioneering electrification, LMS made only half-hearted attempts, concentrating on steam. Looking back from today, the 1923 re-grouping of railway companies seems haphazard and illogical. At the time, it probably made more sense. In 1923, Britain was covered by an intensive railway network. The Great Western and Great Eastern Railways provide a clear regional service. Southern Railway covered the southern ports and the ferry services to France and Continental Europe. It provided commuter services for the large population to the South of London that travelled in each day. In that context, the rural areas were the inevitable spaces between London and the ports facing France. LMS was an arterial service that linked all parts of Britain. That may explain why it appeared less interested in the shorter journey passenger traffic flowing into London each day.