Rail Atlas 1939-1945 is designed to provide a guide to the impact of the Second World War on the railway industry, illustrating the evolution of the railway network during these years. The various lines are differentiated between those that had passenger services throughout the war, those lines that saw passenger services temporarily or permanently withdrawn, freight-only lines, routes opened during the war and lines that saw capacity increased.
The wartime period is greatly neglected by modellers, but can provide a great setting for an interesting layout. Rail Atlas 1939-1945 is a great place to start researching the period. In World War 2 the railways of Britain played a pivotal part in the ultimate defeat of Germany and its allies – as they had done in World War 1. Under centralised control, the war effort put a considerable strain upon the infrastructure, equipment and staff of the railway industry. Certain lines which might otherwise have closed, such as the Shropshire & Montgomery, found new roles as military bases and munition dumps were established. Other lines, such as the line from Didcot to Winchester, underwent considerable expansion in order to provide increased capacity. In order to make the railways more efficient a limited number of passenger services were either suspended or withdrawn completely; in many cases, these were never to be restored.