Big Four British railway companies

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The Big Four British railway companies operated most of the trains in Great Britain from 1923 to 1947. They were created by merging (known as grouping) a large number of smaller railway companies following the passing of the Railways Act 1921 by the British government.

The Big Four were:

  • Great Western Railway (GWR)
  • London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS)
  • London and North Eastern Railway (LNER)
  • Southern Railway (SR)

Constituents

Great Western Railway

The Great Western Railway existed before 1923 and kept its original name. In 1923, it took over most of the railways in Wales.

London, Midland and Scottish Railway

The main constituents of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway were:

  • Midland Railway
  • London and North Western Railway
  • Several railways in Scotland

London and North Eastern Railway

The main constituents of the London and North Eastern Railway were:

  • North Eastern Railway
  • Great Northern Railway
  • Several railways in Scotland

Southern Railway

The main constituents of the Southern Railway were:

  • London and South Western Railway
  • London, Brighton and South Coast Railway
  • South Eastern and Chatham Railway

Nationalization

On 1 January 1948, the Big Four were nationalized to form British Railways, which later became British Rail.