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 … Continued

June 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 … Continued

May 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 … Continued

May 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 … Continued

March 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 … Continued

February 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 … Continued

February 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 … Continued

December 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 … Continued

November 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 … Continued

September 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 … Continued

July 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. … Continued

June 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 … Continued

June 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 … Continued

June 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, … Continued

May 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, … Continued

May 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 … Continued

April 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 … Continued

April 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 … Continued

March 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 … Continued

March 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 … Continued

February 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 … Continued

February 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 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 … Continued

January 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 … Continued

January 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 … Continued

January 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 … Continued

January 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 … Continued

January 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 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 … Continued

December 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 http://amzn.to/1xKrjzz

December 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 … Continued

December 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 … Continued

November 2015 Blog

Happy birthday Brief Encounter – 70 years old! The story of its making in my book Steaming to Victory

The inside story of the making of David Lean’s masterpiece, 70 years old this month, from Chapter 14 of ‘Steaming to Victory’ “YOU KNOW– David Lean chose me personally for my part in Brief Encounter. He said, “That’s the girl … Continued

November 2015 Blog

The Trains Now Departed – and why reopening old rail routes can be better value than HS2

NICE to see my published views on the value of reopening old rail routes quoted in this new report from the influential Bow Group http://www.bowgroup.org/policy/revive-britains-railways-improve-capacity-says-bow-group

October 2015 Blog

The Trains Now Departed – what makes us love old trains so much? My chat on Australia’s late-night radio

Listen to me here: http://ab.co/1KMRNJH http://ab.co/1KMRNJH

October 2015 Blog

The best railway carriage views in the world are often on the slow train. My choice in this weekend’s Daily Telegraph

WHAT is the best railway carriage view in the world? I was asked this weekend to write up my choice for Telegraph Travel. Spoilt for choice, here’s my selection. The UK really does have some special railway views. Aside from … Continued

October 2015 Blog

‘Want to recapture the golden age of rail? Go back to Brunel, not British Rail.’ My article in the Daily Mail

MY ARTICLE from today’s Daily Mail: IT WAS known as God’s Wonderful Railway – and with good reason. In its glory days, until the drab hand of nationalisation fell on it in 1948, the old Great Western Railway was the … Continued

September 2015 Blog

The Trains Now Departed – and the bad old days of rail nationalisation

SURELY the railways were better in the good old days. Weren’t they? All the talk about rail renationalisation under new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn somehow implies it was better in the past when British Rail was in charge. I’ve certainly … Continued

September 2015 Blog

The most delightful undiscovered area of Britain. How to get the best from travelling over the new Borders Railway from Edinburgh

How lovely. The story from the Independent on Sunday of my recent journey through the Scottish Borders – travelling along the new Borders Railway. http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/uk/scottish-borders-railway-brings-a-historic-region-back-into-focus-10499752.html

September 2015 Blog

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