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Britain's Railways All Change

Britain’s Railways All Change (BRAC) is a collection of over 170 oral history recordings, gathering the personal recollections of people involved in the railway privatisation process in the United Kingdom.

What is BRAC?

This project—initiated and funded by the Friends of the National Railway Museum and the Retired Railway Officers Societydocuments the period between 1994 and 1997 when the government-owned British Rail was dismantled into over 100 privately owned companies. This resulted in the handover of nearly 120,000 employees, 11,300 miles of railway track, 2,355 passenger stations and thousands of rail vehicles from the government to the private sector. The privatisation process was—and remains—hugely controversial and its impact continues to this day.

An interview for BRAC
An oral history interview takes place in Search Engine at the National Railway Museum (© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum)

Recorded between 2018 and 2022, the interviews capture the recollections of people involved in the planning and implementation of the privatisation process, the management of change and running the railway in the years following privatisation.

The collection will be relevant to historians, political scientists, researchers in management and leadership and anyone with an interest in the contemporary railway.

You can find out more and search the interviews on the Science Museum Group’s Collection Online website.

To research and listen to the recordings, get in touch with the Search Engine team to plan a visit to our dedicated library and archive centre. Please provide at least two weeks' notice so we have time to prepare the oral history files ahead of your visit.

On the day of your visit we'll ask you to complete a data protection form. Once this has been completed you will be able to access your requested audio content using one of the sound booths in our Search Engine research centre.

Contact Search Engine

Open 10.00–16.30 Thursday to Saturday
Call: 01904 686 235 (10.00–16.30 Wednesday–Saturday)


Peter Middleton

People inside a signal box
Members of the Railtrack signalling team at Inverness Signal Box, May 1997


Peter Middleton worked on the railways between 1966 and 2007. Starting as a cleaner in Leeds in 1966 he quickly progressed, becoming a driver in 1972—a role he sustained until 2007.

Peter talks about the experiences of his 40-year career, which included working through the privatisation process.


Peter Middleton: Harrogate privatisation

Peter Middleton describes the effect of privatisation on the Harrogate depot.

Play another track: for Listen

Janet Goodland

Railway ticket office 1993
A passenger buys a ticket at York station, January 1993 (© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum)

Janet Goodland worked in various management positions within the railway industry, including Director of Railtrack, London, and Director of Network Development for Network Rail. She speaks about her experiences working as Head of Strategy and Planning for Railtrack during the privatisation years and the impact that privatisation had on her day-to-day work and career.


Janet Goodland: 1992 election promises

Janet Goodland shares her memories of the 1992 election.

John Swift

Scotrail staff, 1997
ScotRail's Station Supervisor in the booking hall at Dingwall Station, 1997 (© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum)

John Swift was appointed the first Rail Regulator in December 1993. He speaks about the purpose of the role and how he came to be appointed. The position of Rail Regulator was vital to the independent economic regulation of the railway industry in Britain after privatisation.


John Swift: The intriguing new role of Rail Regulator

John Swift talks about his time as Rail Regulator, a new job created as part of privatisation.

Jonathan Bray

Political protesters at a railway station
Liberal Democrat protesters at York station, 26 October 1991. They are protesting against the privatisation of the railways, and are going to London to join a demonstration (© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum)

Jonathan Bray was the coordinator of the Save our Railways campaign opposing the privatisation of the railways which operated between 1993 and 2001. He speaks about how he became involved in the campaign and the tactics of the group.


Jonathan Bray: Who to involve in a campaign

Jonathan Bray talks through the key figures needed to get the Save our Railways campaign off the ground.

Jim Cornell

Rail engineering staff
Team members of the First Engineering Permanent Way Gang, photographed in June 1997, at Achnasheen in the Scottish Highlands (© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum)

After working as the Director of Civil Engineering at British Rail headquarters between 1987 and 1992, Jim Cornell worked as the Director of Regional Railways, 1992-1993, before moving on to become Group Managing Director British Rail Infrastructure Services between 1993 and 1996. In this interview he discusses the management of maintenance contracts for the new privatised railways. 


Jim Cornell: Maintaining infrastructure

Jim Cornell discusses the importance of regular maintenance