The UK rail network was nationalised in 1948 with the Big Four (Great Western Railway; London, Midland & Scottish Railway; London & North Eastern Railway; Southern Railway) replaced by British Rail.

Were the stock owners of the Big Four compensated and how?

1 Answer 1


According to the wikipedia page for the Transport Act 1947, nationalization was effectively a rescue act because the "big four" were bankrupt.

In terms of compensation for their owners, it says:

Shares in the railway companies were exchanged for British Transport Stock, with a guaranteed 3% return chargeable to the [British Transport Commission] and were repayable after forty years.

Whether this was a good deal for the owners appears to be a matter for debate.

  • 1
    For future readers of this answer, the "big four" were effectively bankrupt because the government used the railways and rolling stock during WW2 for national concerns, with minimal recompense and no ongoing maintenance, so the network and rolling stock they handed back was effectively end of life and the owners had no ability to recapitalise. The government effectively forced the situation and benefited by nationalising for cheap. And therein started 75+ years of pain.
    – Moo
    Jun 22, 2021 at 4:47

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