British Railways (BR), which from 1965 traded as British Rail, was the state-owned company that operated most of the rail transport in Great Britain between 1948 and 1997. It was formed from the nationalisation of the "Big Four" British railway companies and lasted until the gradual privatisation of British Rail, in stages between 1994 and 1997. Originally a trading brand of the Railway Executive of the British Transport Commission, it became an independent statutory corporation in 1962 designated as the British Railways Board.
The period of nationalisation saw sweeping changes in the national railway network. A process of dieselisation and electrification took place, and by 1968 steam locomotion had been entirely replaced by diesel and electric traction, except for one narrow-gauge tourist line. Passengers replaced freight as the main source of business, and one-third of the network was closed by the Beeching Axe of the 1960s in an effort to reduce rail subsidies.
On privatisation, responsibility for track, signalling and stations was transferred to Railtrack (which was later brought under public control as Network Rail) and that for trains to the train operating companies.
The British Rail "double arrow" logo is formed of two interlocked arrows showing the direction of travel on a double track railway and was nicknamed "the arrow of indecision". It is now employed as a generic symbol on street signs in Great Britain denoting railway stations, and as part of the Rail Delivery Group's (RDG) jointly-managed National Rail brand is still being printed on railway tickets....LESS