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British Railways – the butt of many jokes – was formed in 1948, when the Great Western, London Midland & Scottish, London & North Eastern and Southern Railways were taken into public ownership, together with fifty smaller concerns. It was originally divided into six regions, controlled by the Railway Executive – one of five that answered to the British Transport Commission, which had been established to provide a “properly integrated system of public inland transport and port facilities within Great Britain”. The Railway Executive inherited over 20,000 locomotives, 56,000 coaches, a million wagons, 43,000 road vehicles, 650,000 members of staff and nearly 9,000 horses. Much of the rolling stock – and the track on which it ran – was in poor condition, having been heavily used and lightly maintained during the Second World War.