The London, Midland and Scottish Railway ("LMS" or "LMSR") was formed in 1923 in the Grouping of large numbers of separate railway companies, into just four. It was an unwieldy construction, claiming to be the world's largest transport organization, and the largest commercial undertaking in Europe (although they did not say on what basis), including the largest chain of hotels. In 1938, the LMS operated 6,870 route miles of railway (excluding lines in Northern Ireland), but it was not very profitable with a rate of return of only 2.7%.
The LMS was formed from the following major companies:
- London and North Western Railway
- Midland Railway
- Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway
- North Staffordshire Railway
- Furness Railway
- Caledonian Railway
- Highland Railway
- Glasgow and South Western Railway
- Stratford-Upon-Avon & Midland Junction Railway
The LMS was a railway of contrasts - its main line trains such as the Coronation Scot were second to none, but its branch line trains were often slow and dirty. The LMS was 'middling' in its development of electrification schemes, being better than the Great Western Railway which had none, but behind the London and North Eastern Railway and infinitely far behind the Southern Railway with its huge suburban electification schemes. The only LMS electrified lines were the Wirral and Mersey Railways (the Liverpool suburban network), and the Manchester South Junction and Altrincham Railway (in south Manchester).
Following the large amount of neglect and war damage taken by the railway during the Second World War, it was decided to nationalise the railways and the LMS was absorbed into British Rail at the stroke of midnight, at the beginning of 1948.