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

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 […]

November 9, 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

October 25, 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:

October 22, 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 […]

October 19, 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 […]

September 22, 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 […]

September 21, 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.

September 16, 2015 Blog

How I snuck ahead of the Queen on the new Borders Railway – Britain’s first domestic main line to be built for more than a century

NOT OFTEN in a lifetime do you get ahead of the Queen! But as Her Majesty opens Scotland’s new Borders Railway today – the longest domestic main line to be built in Britain for more than a century – I […]

September 9, 2015 Blog

Thrilled to be on inaugural train on Britain’s first new domestic main line for over a century

THIS week I’m privileged to be among the passengers on Britain’s first new domestic main line for a century – rolling through the delightful scenery of the Scottish Borders. I’ve written the story of the line in my new book […]

September 1, 2015 Blog

The Trains Now Departed – and the line that never closed. Could this be the cheeriest railway in Britain?

  THE CARRIAGES are shabby and have seen better days – and the service is sparse, with just five trains each way over its 75-mile length. Some of the stations have primitive facilities, with barely enough shelter to shield passengers […]

August 6, 2015 Blog

Steaming to Victory – and my visit to Churchill’s ghostly Tube HQ at Down Street station

At last achieved my ambition of getting access to the spooky Down Street station on the Piccadilly Line, which I wrote about in my book Steaming to Victory. Here are some of my pix. Full of memories of Churchill – […]

July 31, 2015 Blog

A lovely evening with The Trains Now Departed at the Owl Bookshop – and thanks to all who came along to my talk

A LOVELY evening yesterday talking to local book enthusiasts in Camden about my new title The Trains Now Departed – and the prospects for HS2. It was a fun evening – and thanks to all who came along. Thanks, too, […]

July 28, 2015 Blog

The Trains Now Departed: ‘Meticulous and extensive research – once started, it’s difficult to put down’, says National Railway Museum Review

A SUPER review of ‘The Trains Now Departed’ by Russ Rollings in the National Railway Museum Review. He writes: The fascinating stories are very readable, peppered with anecdotes and obscure facts. As with Michael Williams’ previous book Steaming to Victory, […]

July 26, 2015 Blog

Save the Gresley duck! I back authors’ and artists’ appeal – from the Camden New Journal

WHY we need to save the statue of Sir Nigel Gresley and his Mallard at King’s Cross station. My quote in this week’s Camden New Journal @gresleyduck

July 25, 2015 Blog

Join me for my talk on ‘The Lost Delights of Britain’s Railways’ next Monday July 27 in Camden

I’D BE VERY pleased to see you at my talk at the Owl Bookshop – one of London’s most charming independent bookshops – on ‘The Delights of Britain’s Railways’, based on my bestselling new book ‘The Trains Now Departed: Sixteen […]

July 20, 2015 Blog

Not railways, but a piece in my media writer role: Review of Ivan Fallon’s ‘Black Horse Ride’ in the Independent newspaper

THE global financial crisis was not just a failure of banking but of journalism, too – with the media in the dock for failing to warn an unsuspecting public of impending disaster. As a news editor might put it, “we […]

July 17, 2015 Blog

‘Where are the green silk blinds of the once luxurious Metropolitan Line?’ Lovely review of The Trains Now Departed in the Spectator: ‘Dreamlike…vivid…highly readable’

A lovely review of The Trains Now Departed by Andrew Martin, famous for his Jim Stringer detective novels. He writes: “In The Trains Now Departed Williams celebrates ‘the best of what is gone from our railways’ in 16 vivid, highly readable chapters. […]

July 9, 2015 Blog

The Trains Now Departed: Sixteen Excursions into the Lost Delights of Britain’s Railways is recommended by ‘Choice’ Magazine

‘Fascinating’ – another nice mention of The Trains Now Departed in the latest  edition of ‘Choice’ magazine.

July 9, 2015 Blog

Steaming to Victory – setting off on a personal journey to the battle sites of World War 1

VERY EXCITED to be travelling tomorrow by train to the battle sites of WW1 to write a piece for the Daily Telegraph. This is a very personal journey for me, since my grandfather, Bertie Wenn, was injured at Passchendaele serving […]

July 2, 2015 Blog

Farewell Ian Allan – inspiration for The Trains Now Departed

  SO SORRY to hear of the death of Ian Allan, the patron saint of trainspotting, who fired up the imagination of a generation of schoolboys, with his ABCs of British Locomotives (and many other subjects). The huge passion of […]

June 30, 2015 Blog

The Trains Now Departed: ‘An historian’s eye for detail and a novelist’s sense of pace’, says The Tablet magazine review

ANOTHER nice review of The Trains Now Departed, this time in The Tablet – the international Catholic weekly – which says, in reviewing three new books about railways: ‘The best of the three is The Trains Now Departed. Subtitled “sixteen […]

June 27, 2015 Blog

Train crash at Network Rail – and why the railways have fallen behind. The strategy is wrong

Earlier this year, after the chaos over Network Rail engineering failure at Kings Cross I wrote in the Daily Mail about how the strategy was wrong Not surprising with latest news from government that there is to be a review!

June 25, 2015 Blog

The Trains Now Departed – and why rail travel is sexy again

Here’s my interview in the South China Morning Post about my life on the line…

June 24, 2015 Blog

The Trains Now Departed – ‘A fine tome…and an evocative read. Thank you for wonderful memories’, writes Radio 1 DJ Andy Peebles

A smashing letter from Radio 1 DJ Andy Peebles, who bought The Trains Now Departed: Sixteen Excursions into the Lost Delights of Britain’s Railways after hearing me talk about it on the Judy Spiers show on BBC radio. He tells […]

June 22, 2015 Blog

The Trains Now Departed: Sixteen Excursions into the Lost Delights of Britain’s Railways named ‘Book of the Month’

A GLOWING review by leading railway writer Andrew Roden of my new book ‘The Trains Now Departed: Sixteen Excursions into the Lost Delights of Britain’s Railways’ in ‘Steam World’ – Britain’s best-selling historical railway magazine – which has made it […]

June 19, 2015 Blog

The Trains Now Departed – another nice newspaper review

ANOTHER nice newspaper review of The Trains Now Departed – this time from the Westmorland Gazette. It was in this beautiful part of the north that I walked over the old tracks of the Stainmore Railway – once the highest […]

June 18, 2015 Blog

The Trains Now Departed – and new book by Michael Palin

BY AN accident of geography, I happen to be a near neighbour in London of Michael Palin – a great railway enthusiast and  charming man. And, by another coincidence, both he and I have No 1. bestsellers on Amazon – […]

June 16, 2015 Blog

The Trains Now Departed – and the lost railway heritage of London. Why I love Primrose Hill

How tragic that so much of London’s wonderful railway heritage has been lost. Here’s my article this week for the ILovePrimrose Hill website   THE hordes of people who cross the Bridge Approach from Primrose Hill to Chalk Farm […]

June 14, 2015 Blog

The Trains Now Departed is tops on Amazon – with all 5* reviews. And with lovely display in my local bookshops

Delighted to see that The Trains Now Departed is still ranked tops in its category on Amazon – with all five-star reviews. And it’s got a lovely display in our local bookshops in north London. Here’s the Primrose Hill Bookshop […]

June 11, 2015 Blog

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