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The Railways and Britain's Nuclear Industry

Books
Ref: B681
By: Key Books
£14.99 (Latest exchange rate: $18.54 or €17.11)

 

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Please note: Despatch from 1st April 2020.

This book is about the important role played by the nation’s railways in Britain’s nuclear industry and how the need to secure that service through the turbulent period of privatisation led to the creation of the nation’s most diverse railway company, Direct Rail Services.

The 1945 Labour government achieved many things, one of the more predictable being the nationalisation of the railways. Another decision it made was more of a surprise, it decided that Britain would develop nuclear weapons which, in turn led to the development of a civil nuclear industry. By the 1990s both the nuclear power industry and the railways had begun their move towards privatisation, though neither would truly be free from government control.

This book sets the scene with a brief history of nuclear power in Britain and the technology behind it, not just the reactors but the plants that processed the uranium, built the fuel elements and reprocessed the spent fuel. It goes on to illustrate the transport of the spent nuclear fuel from across Britain to the Sellafield Reprocessing plant in West Cumbria and indeed from across the world. In the 21st century the decommissioning of the first generation of reactors and a swathe of Ministry of Defence establishments across the south of England added to the waste already travelling by rail to the national Low Level Waste Repository, also in West Cumbria. The railways also transported chemicals for the nuclear industry, construction materials and – at least in part - the industry's workers too.

Direct Rail Services took over all this traffic and then added to it by becoming a major player in the rail freight business as well as assuming a significant role in the nation’s passenger market. The book not only illustrates this transformation but explains why it happened.

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96 pages, softback.


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