The Rape of the Trains

Image from The Times, 28/3/13

Doctor Beeching, much reviled for railicide
earned a fortune making railways pay
by closing them, in his naiveté,
expecting plaudits, to be sanctified.

Old ladies, unable to shop, cried and cried;
men thrown out of work in disarray
got on their bikes – there were no trains –
Doctor Beeching was sacked and vilified.

Buses were supposed to fill the gap
but many complained it was quicker to travel by hearse,
regretting the trains that were sent for scrap.
So silly men built motorways – much worse,
in specious logic wise men claimed was cracked –
farmland lost to tarmac, with cars submersed, 

One of the stations axed by Beeching was the subject of that marvellous poem Adlestrop, by Edward Thomas.  

This diatribe is supposed to be a Miltonian Sonnet, as proposed by Sam Peralta at dVerse


All poetry, prose and pictures posted here, except where otherwise stated, is my own, and may only be used elsewhere with my expressed permission. Please don't be inhibited from correcting my bloopers and making suggestions: Most of what I post here is instant, ill-considered and off-the-cuff, in serious need of editing.
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34 Responses to The Rape of the Trains

  1. Victoria says:

    I like how you blend history and form for a most effective rant. Politicians seem to be averse to thinking thing through beyond the next election, don’t they.


  2. Grace says:

    Yes, I recall reading this before Viv ~ Hope you are enjoying your daily writing ~

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sanaa Rizvi says:

    I echo the sentiments above 🙂 this is incredible.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the re-read… a wonderful experience to read it again (and see all those comments too). I do remember the prompt which was one of my first writings at dVerse.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. whimsygizmo says:

    There are so many gorgeous sounds here, Viv.
    “farmland lost to tarmac” says it all — how sad. We truly do ‘pave paradise to put up a parking lot.’

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ShirleyB says:

    Such a shame when these wonderful, historical modes of transport are sent to the graveyard, yet everything succumbs to politics and money – and who would realistically give up their cars in preference? So sad. Great poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. hypercryptical says:

    I second Laurie’s comment – wholeheartedly!

    Anna :o]


  8. kkkkaty1 says:

    Hear hear!! I’m all for the rehabilitating of our own trains here in the US…and this is a stunning sonnet 😉


  9. I love ‘railicide’!


  10. This is too bad ~ I think trains are a good and economical way to travel ~ Good work on the form and message ~



  11. First of all, that was an amazing photograph you used, I had to do a double take to figure it out, then was slack-jawed when I realized it. Then, your sonnet. This is a brilliant, brilliant poem – an acerbic look at a policy gone wrong, that ended up with a worse situation – filled with biting wit and a turn of phrase that Hilaire Belloc would have approved of. The touches of subtle humor and irony (“many complained it was quicker to travel by hearse”) only serve as highlights to the overall grim picture. Did I say brilliant? Brilliant.


  12. My province, in Canada, trains are all but gone. Only a few running tracks here and there. My city has removed all tracks replacing them with walking/jogging/biking trails which at least are better than nothing. Our historic train station has been turned into a liquor store. Honestly I have never been on a train before… want to… bucket list! Canada can learn from a lot of countries in Europe. Love your picture and love the poem.


  13. claudia says:

    i think trains are a wonderful way to travel around…luckily germany is still a train country..really hope that doesn’t change


    • viv blake says:

      There are still trains in UK, but the branch lines which used to serve smaller communities were axed in favour of inter-city, and this is also the trend in France.


  14. Stupidly of removing trains is everywhere love the take..


  15. marousia says:

    I agree! Trains need to be kept – wonderful writing!


  16. L says:

    Here, here – to trains!


  17. L says:

    Here, here! To trains!


  18. Beth Winter says:

    I also feel the huge loss of passenger trains and most freight trains. I wonder about those people who complain about having to wait for one, especially considering that they leave their cars running, burning fuel they should conserve. Personally, I shut off the engine, listen to the motion and allow my spirit to find its center. Well written.


  19. I wish we had trains here, and less cars.


  20. Rowan Taw says:

    I so wish I didn’t always have to travel by car, but there’s very little option. Great sonnet theme and form.


  21. nico says:

    One has to wonder what, if anything, is going on in the silly heads of some people. Great work!


  22. sharechair says:

    Oh I agree agree. Here in the US, you can’t get from here to there on a train. I live only and hour and half away from NYC and Philly and I can’t get a train to either. There are NO trains running from this metro area. Criminal.


  23. thehutts says:

    Some lines are being reopened (e.g. Edinburgh to the Borders) but unfortunately the ones I see when working on farm surveys are probably beyond economical repair.
    Some make excellent cycle tracks (e.g. Monsal Trail in the Peak District
    The proposed new high speed line (HS2) is causing lots of controversy in terms of loss of habitat and poor value for money!? Sally


  24. brian miller says:

    quicker to travel by hearse…ha..oh my…
    i wish we had a rail system, there is a certain romanticism to riding trains…
    of course i like public transport as well…ugh all the land bisected by roads….
    cool choice of topic on the sonnet…


  25. I agree wholeheartedly with this wonderful diatribe.


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