The island where it’s always nostalgia time

CAN there be a time warp like this anywhere on the British railway system? Elderly Tube trains dating from 1938 trundle between Ryde and Shanklin in the Isle of Wight as they have done for the past 30 years. It […]

September 25, 2019 Blog, Uncategorized

Is this the best sleeping car train in the world?

WHEN I’m asked about the greatest train journeys in the world I always recommend the Caledonian Sleeper, the train that runs from London’s Euston to the West Highlands of Scotland. Like all the best journeys, this is totally transformative, taking […]

April 30, 2019 Blog

Welcome to the new steam age (well, kind of…)

Here’s a quiz question. What type of train emits steam and water but is not a steam engine? Answer: it’s a hydrogen train – the first generation of which are planned for Britain’s railways, using converted former commuter trains from […]

January 22, 2019 Blog

It’s 50 years since steam ended – let’s be thankful it never went away

  IT’S 50 years ago this month that steam locomotives last ran in regular service on the main lines of  British Railways. For me these were days filled with nostalgia as I spent my gap year of 1967-68 travelling the […]

August 23, 2018 Blog

How ‘Northern Fail’ is undermining the idea of rail travel

‘Northern Fail’, ‘Network Fail’ – and everyone else seems to be failing in this latest debacle on the railways where the new May timetables have led to thousands of cancellations across the country, mostly on Northern Rail and Govia Thameslink. […]

June 1, 2018 Blog, Uncategorized

Echoes of the glory days as locomotive-hauled trains return to the railway

Once upon a time, one of the most romantic sights on the railways was a glamorous locomotive at the head of a  train, waiting to whisk its passengers off to some far-off destination. Gleaming paintwork, polished brass, often an evocative […]

April 26, 2018 Blog

The next train at Platform 1 could be run by British Railways

I hardly thought I would ever say this, but Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell may be onto something when they say they want to bring the railways back into national ownership. There’s certainly a public appetite after the long-running guards’ […]

February 23, 2018 Blog

Enjoy this ‘Little Train’ on its journey around a small island

I’VE  just read quite the most charming and delightful book about trains that’s crossed my desk for ages. It’s a celebration of Britain’s narrow gauge railways along whose tracks author Chris Arnot has taken a highly entertaining national odyssey. These […]

June 2, 2017 Blog

‘Barely able to put it down’ – a lovely reader review of The Trains now Departed

A NICE review sent by email today from a reader Malcolm Margerison: Quite by chance, I recently picked up your book “The Trains Now Departed” in the local library. I say “by chance”, because I happened to catch sight of it […]

May 8, 2017 Blog

Scoop! The glory days of the regional press are celebrated in a new book

A WONDERFUL day at a reunion of old colleagues from the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo, where I started my career in journalism back in 1971 before I went on to The Times in London and spent many ensuing years […]

May 4, 2017 Blog

Read all about it – why the regional press is better than ever

IT MAY seem grim for the regional print press at the moment – the latest audited circulation figures show a drop of more than 11 per cent in a year. And the plight of local papers even features in the […]

March 20, 2017 Blog

Chuffed as steam returns to scheduled services after half a century

WONDERFUL to see steam on  timetabled services on the Settle and Carlisle line this week. For the first time in half a century it’s been possible to buy a ticket on National Rail and travel behind a steam locomotive on […]

February 14, 2017 Blog, Uncategorized

Are we being ripped off with plan to end ‘rip-off’ rail fares?

  UNDER the heading “Rip-off rail fares scrapped” The Times reports that “thousands of expensive long-distance fares” are to be axed from the National Rail database to ensure travellers get a cheaper deal”. But will  they? The train companies’ are […]

February 1, 2017 Blog

The book now ready to depart on that New Year rail journey…

  SPOTTED in W. H. Smith’s new bookshop at Euston station (handily next to Paul Theroux!) the paperback edition of The Trains Now Departed…all ready to while away a New Year train journey. so if you’re stuck on the Southern […]

December 20, 2016 Blog

All fired up, steaming through Yorkshire!

  JUST returned from a trip sampling some of the finest heritage steam in Yorkshire – aboard the magical trains of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. It’s half-term and the services are packed […]

November 1, 2016 Blog, Uncategorized

Is this the finest steam train ride in the world?

  My article on Germany’s Harz Railway, from Telegraph Travel, September 3 2016: IMAGINE you could create your ultimate fantasy train set. For me (and I suspect possibly you) it would be a network of quaint branch lines passing through […]

September 5, 2016 Blog

Great fun filming for the BBC’s new series Trainspotting Live…

  HERE’s me filming for BBC TV’s  new series Trainspotting Live, beginning next week (July 11). I’m with the presenter Tim Dunn after we travelled along the New North line out of Paddington to West Ruislip. And here’s a splendid […]

July 8, 2016 Blog

A spooky ride on Britain’s ghost trains. My article in the Daily Express

  I BEGAN to feel spooked when the booking clerk was reluctant to sell me a ticket. “A day return to Goole on the direct line, please?” I ask at Leeds station, the second busiest on the network outside London. […]

June 28, 2016 Blog

The Trains Now Departed in World Travel Guide’s top ten holiday reads for this summer

Here’s what it says: Wonderfully evocative … You cannot fail to be swept up in the romance of it all as the men and women who created, operated and travelled on theses since departed trains are brought back to life […]

June 15, 2016 Blog

The pleasures and joys of trainspotting

 My article on the joys of transpottinging fro the latest edition of Steam Tube; I HAVE a confession to make. It’s shaming, embarrassing and something no grown man wants the world to know about him. In the galaxy of public […]

June 1, 2016 Blog, Steam Tube

My enduring romance with the fabulous Flying Scotsman…

A WONDERFUL canter through the Surrey Hills last night behind the Flying Scotsman, nattering over a five course dinner in the Pullman car with Steam Dreams owner Marcus Robertson. Even though I have travelled scores of times behind this locomotive, […]

May 26, 2016 Blog

The top 25 rail journeys in the world – chosen by me for the Daily Telegraph

  “I HAVE seldom heard a train go by and not wished I was on it,” said the travel writer Paul Theroux famously, and it seems that more of us than ever concur with him. Trains are the most agreeable, […]

May 5, 2016 Blog

Honoured to have been invited to give talk at Institution of Civil Engineers with shades of Brunel and Stephenson looking on

HONOURED, as a mere scribe, to have been invited to give a talk tonight in the hallowed Institution of Civil Engineers at Westminster, with the shades of Stephenson, Brunel and Telford looking on. Think the audience enjoyed it – I […]

April 28, 2016 Blog

My day out in memory of eminent Victorian who designed my local station Camden Road

DELIGHTED to have been invited today by the great, great, great niece of Edwin Horne – architect of the charming Camden Road station on the North London Railway –to the unveiling of a plaque in his honour. (I had written […]

April 15, 2016 Blog

So sad! After 30 great years, the very last issue of The Independent today…

IT WAS at the heart of my professional life. The closure of The Independent print edition today does not just leave an aching gap for me – I worked there as a senior editor for nearly 14 years. But it […]

March 26, 2016 Blog

Pleased to be appointed a judge for the the UK Regional Press Awards

I’m delighted to have been appointed a judge for this year’s Regional Press Awards. At a time when the press is under pressure as never before, it’s always a delight to read the entries for these awards – always full […]

March 16, 2016 Blog

RIP ‘Independent’ and ‘Independent on Sunday’. You were part of the script of my life

TRAGIC news this week that the Independent and Independent on Sunday are to stop printing. I spent 14 years working for both – first as executive editor of the Indy, and then as deputy editor of the Sindy. The closures […]

February 13, 2016 Blog

The Trains Now Departed and most famous steam engine driver of modern times…

A READER of ‘The Trains Now Departed’ – Keith Baker – has sent me the following delightful memoir of Laurie Earl – famous driver of the crack Euston to Scotland trains: ‘I have recently read this book, and found it […]

February 4, 2016 Blog

The unsung heroes of war – here’s me talking about the WW2 Home Front on the H2 History Channel tonight

IF you get a chance, catch up with my episode of ‘Combat Trains’ on the H2 History Channel tonight. There will undoubtedly be frequent repeats  – it shows on Virgin, Sky and BT .

January 28, 2016 Blog

Churchill and the railways – watch my episode of Combat Trains on the History Channel this Thursday January 28

How Britain’s railways won the war. I’m helping narrate the History Channel series Combat Trains this Thursday January 28 at 8.30pm talking about the vital role of the railways on the Home Front. I’d be delighted if you’d join me […]

January 22, 2016 Blog

Nice write-up for my recent talk to the Lakes Line Rail Users’ Group – one of Britain’s most charming railways

  From the group’s latest Winter Bulletin The 2015 AGM  This year’s AGM was held in the Georgian Room in Kendal Town Hall. Filled with an appreciative audience it showed that you don’t have to offer crisis and bad news […]

January 13, 2016 Blog

My odyssey to the trenches of World War One to discover the soul of my grandfather

IT WAS the war wound that prevented me getting on with my grandfather. Too late to regret it now but perhaps, a century after he received the blow that crippled him, I can at least attempt to piece together the events […]

January 9, 2016 Blog

Welcome back to the Flying Scotsman – the world’s most famous locomotive

GREAT to see the mighty Flying Scotsman back on the rails today after her many tribulations. Let’s hope that the skilled engineers appointed by the National Railway Museum have exorcised what many have long regarded as the “Curse of the […]

January 8, 2016 Blog

‘The Trains Now Departed – ‘The best railway book I have read in 60 years’

I RECEIVED this letter from a reader of ‘The Trains Now Departed’ at the New Year. It expresses such a lovely sentiment, I thoughtI would share it: Dear Mr Williams, I have just finished reading “The Trains Now Departed” and […]

January 3, 2016 Blog

The Trains now Departed: Sixteen Excursions into the Lost Delights of Britain’s Railways has been a brilliant seller for Christmas

WITH just  a week to go to Christmas, my latest book is No. 2 in the Amazon charts

December 18, 2015 Blog

The Trains Now Departed is a ‘delight’ and ‘compellingly fascinating’, says latest review

“A delight it proves to be: 16 compellingly fascinating accounts… together with a delightfully surprising cast of characters, strange tales and maybe even a ghost or two. Stir in the author’s humour and wit, and it makes for a jolly […]

December 11, 2015 Blog

‘The Trains Now Departed’ is named as a Book of the Year 2015

Delighted that my book ‘The Trains Now Departed’ has just been named as one of the ‘Books of the Year’ in the influential ‘Tablet’ magazine

December 7, 2015 Blog

War and peace: a refuge in Flanders Fields. My Sunday Telegraph report on the First World War billet that is now a quirky hotel

By Michael Williams (From the Sunday Telegraph, December 6 2015) It’s hell out there on the Ypres frontline. Crowds file off tourist buses marked Passchendaele and Tyne Cot, shops are touting maps, medals and memorabilia and the Flanders Fields museum […]

December 6, 2015 Blog

Watch me in new TV series ‘Combat Trains’, which airs for the first time on TV this week and draws on my book ‘Steaming to Victory’

WATCH me in a new History Channel series starting this week about railways and warfare, called Combat Trains. It’s on Sky and Virgin among other channels. I’ve done some thrilling stuff on World War II, based on my book ‘Steaming […]

November 23, 2015 Blog

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