The UK has been marking the 50th anniversary of the notorious Beeching cuts to her railway network. Lord Beeching was the Fat Controller lookalike hired by Harold Macmillan's government at the then enormous salary of £24,000pa to turn an obviously important public asset, the national rail network, into a profit-making business. A Thatcherite policy ahead of its time, despite the abyss between the patrician, slow-talking, mild-mannered Macmillan and the lower middle class, venom-spitting Thatcher.
Beeching's plan, duly executed, was to close down a huge portion of the network, to immediate detrimental effect on people all over the UK. Two small, entirely typical examples from one place: in the rural market town of Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire, where we used to live, it had been possible, pre-Beeching, for anyone with an allotment, market garden or plant nursery, to put a crate of tomatoes onto an evening train and have them sold in Central London's Covent Garden market next morning. It had been possible, too, for a young woman to catch the train to the city for a Saturday night dance, and come back by train at the end of it. After Beeching, no such ready country-wide distribution except for those who happened to live on main lines, and a far greater social isolation. And, naturally, Beeching failed to make the railways pay. A barmy idea that was massively destructive.
In the US, the picture was different, but the same half century has seen a parallel reduction in services. Here's the map: