Articles & papers by  E.A. Gibbins CMILT


Guided Buses on the wrong road? was published in Focus (Journal of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport) in July 2008. It exposes the manifold problems & disadvantages of kerb guided busways, & the lack of interest in them in the rest of the world. UK busways were abandoned in Birmingham at a cost of £100,000 after three years, and Edinburgh after three years to replace by trams. Ipswich busways had to be rebuilt after a few years. Some authorities reduced speed limits on roads which compete with busways. Busways were intended to enable buses to bypass congestion. Ironically, the Cambridgeshire system is being laid through rural areas on a closed railway where more flexible methods are a better & cheaper option. All rail bridges had to be rebuilt, and the formation strengthened by piling and other techniques to support the weight of a bus. There will be no access for lorries. Where the real congestion arises – in towns – there will be no guided system. Breaks for cross traffic will be a hazard.

The views of critics of this article were published in Focus in August 2008. My 1500 word response was published in Focus October 2008. Though not strictly an article, this comprehensive rebuttal of the criticism reads like one.

See also various letters to the media on this subject.


With the benefit of foresight was published in Focus in June 2004. It reveals that the oft-repeated claims of politicians that the problems which arose following privatisation of British Railways could only be seen with the benefit of hindsight are a myth. There was FORESIGHT in abundance, from the era of the Big Four (GWR, LMS, LNE, SR) and the BR era.


Bereft of imagination? was written to respond to a claim that BR managers were bereft of imagination, and expose myths and anecdotes to be found in criticisms of railway professionals. Written for publication in Focus, it has not yet been published.


Mussolini, railways & myth was published in the Journal of the Railway & Canal Historical Society, Special 200th Edition in December 2007. It is based on eight biographies of Mussolini, his autobiography & two books on Fascism. None mention drivers being threatened that they would be shot for unpunctuality, despite evidence that their trains were not all punctual as the British media so fondly believed. Some people seem to believe that what is needed for perfect reliability on railways is a dictator. Even fiction writers cannot resist an irrelevant reference to the ease of achieving railway punctuality. It seems to be a sine qua non for writers to assume that Dictators can induce perfection in railway operation but not in industrial production. What the UK needs is a dictator to get UK companies to cease transferring production to the Third World. (see also Letters-Miscellaneous)   


Conversion of railways into roads was published in Focus in October 2001. It reviews the history of this idea and catalogues its impracticalities and flawed argument. It explodes the myths which created the idea of conversion. The article produced much favourable comment, including advice: “this deserves a wider audience”. This advice led to more research and a book “Railway conversion – the impractical dream”.

A letter rebutting criticism by a reviewer of this book is included as it reveals the trivia that opposes exposure of railway conversion myths. It was published in the Journal of the Railway & Canal Historical Society, July 2007.

A further article rebutted claims made in a paper by Transwatch.

A recent article on this subject - ‘Railway conversion is a pipedream’, - was prepared for publication in the Public Service Review, in response to an article in that Journal by the lone advocator of railway conversion - Transwatch. The response was not published leaving readers of the original article in blissful ignorance of the facts. The idea of conversion was dreamed up 55 years ago. Membership of its society totalled 75 at the peak before tapering off to zero. In that period every Transport Minister has dismissed the concept. 10,000 miles of railway have closed, 250 miles have been “converted” to roads after widening by a factor of up to eight.

A study commissioned by the Department of the Environment in 1974 was rejected by them. This envisaged – inter alia – that a closed railway needed only a few mm of asphalt more than recommended for domestic driveways on the formation to support tens of thousands of HGVs, double-deck buses and cars. (This contrasts with Cambridge – see above). This layer would also be laid on the “cess” – the walkway along the trackside, which has supported no more than a man’s weight, but is considered by conversionists as suitable for roads! The study effectively conceded that railway bridges would need improved clearance, and that land would be needed for adequate width. This study is examined at length in “Railway conversion – the impractical dream”.

Guided busways are incompatible with the objectives of conversionists.

See Letters-Convert for letters to the media on this subject.

The major problem of converting large railway station terminals to bus stations has been seriously misjudged. (see Terminals)


Road Trains derailed? was published in Focus in April 2008. The author observed and filmed off-road demonstrations of the vehicles. It highlights the dangers, problems & disadvantages of the concept, and that the forecast easement of congestion and improvement of road capacity would prove to be a myth, A few weeks after publication, the Minister refused permission for trials on public roads. (see also letters to the media on road transport)              



LT&S – the mythical ‘Misery Line’. For several decades, users of the London, Tilbury & Southend line have claimed it to be the “Misery Line”. It is a myth and a freudian slip. It is really the “Miserly Line”. It earned this soubriquet by laying claim to have fares cut from the lowest in the UK to become the lowest in the world. It enjoyed modernisation whilst the routes whose fares had always been higher than the LT&S waited 10-20 years longer for modernisation.


Privatisation - reveals that many claims by politicians and the new railway companies & comparisons with BR are unwarranted. (see also letters to the media on privatisation)


Rebuttal of a paper by Transwatch to the Transport Select Committee on railway conversion


Modernisation of railways – the 1955 15-year Plan approved by Government. (see also letters to the media on modernisation)


Railway Fares – it was – and is – popularly believed that fares on nationalised railways were rising every year, and were always above inflation, when the converse is the reality. (see also letters to the media on fares).


Railway Nationalisation has been offered to some Journals, but not so far published.


Some of the above items will be expanded as research progresses – please watch this space.


Other articles in course of preparation

Transport safety, Railway closures, Complaints, Unions, Wartime; Weather, Private Owner Wagons; Road haulage, CarParking. Highway pot-holes. See Letters for correspondence to the media on some of these subjects.


Any Journal interested in any of these subjects will be supplied with an advance copy. Publication on this site will then be deferred.


Updated 23.8.10



Joined the LMS in 1946 as a junior booking and parcels clerk. After two years National Service with the R.A.F., mainly in Germany, became Station Master, Dovecliffe (near Barnsley) at the age of 21. Passed the internal examination to become a management trainee (then termed “Traffic Apprentices”).  Thereafter, held various management posts in the Goods and Operating Departments in Yorkshire, the North East, Midlands, BRB Headquarters and the North West. Between 1978 and 1987, was  Regional Operations Officer (LM Region), Divisional Manager (Stoke on Trent), Assistant Divisional General Manager (Manchester and finally Chief Officer (Quality of Service) before taking early retirement.


Having taken early retirement from BR, set up Leisure Products to publish books designed by me for sportsmen & women to keep records of their games & for spectators to keep records of club performances. These books sold to Club souvenir shops operated by County Cricket, Football League, Rugby League, Basketball, Speedway, etc. 

Simultaneously, conducted research into aspects of transport history which had been neglected, ignored or inadequately researched, leading to misleading impressions, myths and inaccurate reporting. Some books on railways gave little data on the source of statements. Consequently, I wrote a series of books embracing this research, and published them through the same company. The anti-rail, pro-road attitude of pre-war governments and its effect on the LMS, LNE, SR, GWR is revealed in “Square Deal Denied”. The facts of this episode have been seriously misreported, probably due to a failure to study government files in the National Archives, and a lack of media interest when the files were released after 50 years. References in books and articles pre-1990s, when pre-war transport files were released to the public, were made without knowledge of these files. My other books expose the unreal claims made by politicians, media and users regarding nationalised railways.

Have written over 100 letters to the media on transport based on researched facts to counter anecdote and uninformed opinion posing as facts. Most were unpublished. Click letters to see examples.



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