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Devastating effects of Beeching rail cuts

This week we've been looking back at the cuts that Dr Richard Beeching, from Kent, announced 50 years ago. His report into our loss-making railways led to many lines being closed because few people were using them.

Half a century on we're still suffering the effects of decades of under investment while ironically more people than ever are squeezing onto a network that was cut by a third. Now, at last, billions of pounds are being invested into it.

The South is home to the busiest rail network in Europe. Its managers have been talking exclusively to our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse about the past and revealing the future.

Interviewees: Tim Shoveller. MD, South West Trains and Fiona Taylor, Network Rail, Kent Director.

Railways working again as heritage lines

The Beeching rail cuts, 50 years ago, left communities cut off from the mainline network. Today, though, some of the lines are back working - as heritage railways, thanks to the work of volunteers. Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse has a special report.

Interviewees: Peter Beauge, Watercress Line volunteer; Anna WIlson-Barnes, Watercress Line; Stephen Joseph, Campaign for Better Transport; Brian Hart, Brighton Main Line 2 Campaign Roger Orchard, Didcot Railway Centre; and Michael Palin, broadcaster and rail enthusiast.

Rail passengers reach all time record on Beeching 50th anniversary

There has been another big rise in the number of people using rail services in the south, with passengers numbers reaching an all time high.

Official figures from the Government's rail regulator show there were 262 million journeys in the region in the last quarter of 2012, a 5% increase.

The figures from the Office of Rail Regulation, come fifty years after Dr Richard Beeching cut rail services by a third because fewer people were using trains.

The British Rail Chairman from Kent was tasked with coming up with a solution to a network losing millions of pounds.

His report led to the closure of 6,000 miles of track and 2,000 stations.

Next week on ITV Meridian we'll have a special series of reports looking back at the Beeching cuts and how the railway of today plans to cope with increasing demand.