The author deplores the mass lay-off of railway workers consequent upon the Beeching Report and, in particular, the replacement of steam by diesel power.
Come listen brother railwaymen, men from every grade,
You'll have to leave the railways now and learn another trade.
They tell us that the railways must be modernised,
We know it's for the profit of private enterprise
No more across the countryside you'll hear those whistles scream.
They're driving diesel engines now in the place of steam.
Those sundry goods and parcels have gone upon the road,
Those freightline trains all carry now full container loads
The loco sheds are empty now, their engines gone for scrap,
The train-rides to the countryside no longer on the map,
Each depot, shed and station closed, become disused and die,
Three hundred thousand railwaymen know the reason why.
I started on the railway when I was in my teens,
In those postwar depression years and unemployment scenes.
For forty years my life I've give and now they've said to me,
Reward my faithful service with my redundancy.
The "postwar depression years" are those of the period 1920 1939 following the First World War (1914-1918)
British Railways banned the use of steam on all mainlines in August 1968.
Freightliners were introduced in August 1968. [Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freightliner_Group]
The author was not made redundant but retired early due to asthma: probably a result of his time driving horse-drawn delivery vans for the Great Eastern Railway.
Other Songs by Jim Ward are bar 353 ~ Railwayman’s Lament and bar015 ~ A-Working on the Railway