Leader comment: Millions use railway that was Beeching's cruellest cut

Im the 1960s, the rise of personal car ownership as the sun set on the Age of Steam made trains look decidedly old-fashioned.

Train undergoing timings on Borders Line
Train undergoing timings on Borders Line

So the cuts introduced after the publication of the 1963 Beeching Report were perhaps more understandable than they appear in hindsight.

While it has long since become accepted that the station and line closures went too far, successive governments have been reluctant to replace the lost infrastructure because of the costs involved.

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Borders Railway celebrates third anniversary by topping 4m passengers

Before the Borders Railway opened three years ago critics warned against the folly of spending hundreds of millions of pounds connecting Edinburgh to a sparsely populated rural area – even though the closure of the full line from Edinburgh to Carlisle was viewed as Beeching’s cruellest cut.

However, the news that four million journeys have now been made on the line and the steady growth of passenger numbers demonstrates the demand from the public for such services.

And it gives hope to campaigners in places like Levenmouth and St Andrews in Fife that they will eventually succeed in re-opening stations there.

So if we went off the rails in the 1960s, it now looks like we’re getting back on track.