The series ‘Network Traces’ depicts places where previously railway lines were in operation but now lie either abandoned or in alternative states of use. Railway networks run through the country like veins connecting people and materials to places up and down the country, they are inextricably linked to the way we live our lives. The closure of these lines has had an unforeseen impact on the lives of British citizens.
The history of Britain’s railways is unique. Despite having a significant part to play in the development of the modern railway, Britain has closed down a considerable amount of its railways and began doing so as early as 1851. The most notable period in the history of these closures however was in the years after the infamous ‘Beeching Report’ of 1963. Between 1963 and 1969 almost 4000 miles of track were closed and the closures continued into the 70s.
Today these lost lines exist in a variety of different states. The spaces often lie forgotten by the rest of the city as wilderness encroaches on the man made structures showing conflict between nature and industrial engineering. Looking for these lines was sometimes like searching for archeological shards, as remnants of the lines remain but are often not strikingly evident. Many disused railway lines are used alternatively, often as cycle paths, sometimes completely built over, it can be difficult to tell a rail line ever existed there. These lines exist as recycled spaces showing the city as an organism subject to constant change and rebirth, and are one of the few positive aspects of these line closures. However they have come at the expense of a better public transport infrastructure.