The Later Years of British Rail 1980-1995: Freight Special
15th September 2021
1980 to 1995 was an extraordinary time for the railways of Britain, especially the freight sector. In 1980 there was a unified, monochrome railway. Freight traffic was still abundant, with marshalling yards active and many branch lines still operating. There were hundreds of collieries. In the early 1980s, Sectorisation arrived. The freight division was separated from the passenger side and further sub-divided into different freight sectors. New locomotives were introduced, and the older types started to disappear. As the eighties progressed, the freight sector was constantly changing. The mixed freight train became a thing of the past but new traffic flows developed, particularly in containers and aggregates. The coal sector steadily declined and branch lines became disused. In the early nineties three new freight companies were created in anticipation of privatisation and then finally privatisation itself arrived, with all freight traffic being taken over by an American company.
It was a period of enormous change and adaptation, and the story is told here through the images of two photographers who were keen observers of the railway scene throughout the whole of this fascinating period.