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Published in December 1954 the Modernisation and Re-equipment of British Railways report is better known simply as the Modernisation Plan. By this period in BR's history, the economics of the industry had started to deteriorate dramatically. Part of this was the result of the gradual erosion of traffic caused by the postwar boom in the use of the internal combustion engine for both passenger and freight transport, but it was also a consequence of the industry's reliance upon older and less efficient technology. Britain was still constructing significant numbers of steam locomotives, relying upon the fact that the country had several hundred years of accessible coal, whilst overseas the railway industry was investing heavily in new forms of traction, diesel and electric. BR had inherited minor programmes covering both forms of traction - such as the LMS's pioneering diesel-electric locomotives and the LNER's Woodhead electrification scheme - and had also tentatively introduced the first significant numbers of DMUS. The Modernisation Plan, however, envisaged the electrification of the major main lines, the wholesale dieselisation of other routes, the gradual elimination of steam, the closure of certain lines, the construction of massive marshalling yards and new rolling stock. It was believed, according to a government report of 1956, that the modernisation thus achieved would result in vastly improved financial returns. The reality, however, was very different as the debt burden placed upon the industry - the money required to fund the work was borrowed at commercial rates, for example - resulted in the rapid deterioration of the industry's finances and, inexorably, led to the position where Dr Richard Beeching was asked to look in detail at the industry's future. With the 50th anniversary of the Modernisation Plan approaching, now is the ideal opportunity to look in detail at the causes and effects of the Plan, drawing upon material from the various archives much of which was unavailable to earlier historians of the period.