Follow the old money to Sea Island – the idyll of America’s Deep South

WHEN the moon comes up, loggerhead turtles will creep on to the beach to lay their eggs. Behind us, even in these baking summer months, is succulent forest, populated by radiant tropical birds, longleaf pine, and moss-hung oak, magnolia, palm […]


September 9, 2015 The Independent

Public rage and a tragic fall at Lloyds

Black Horse Ride: The Inside Story of Lloyds and the Banking Crisis’, by Ivan Fallon, The Robson Press, £25 THE global financial crisis was not just a failure of banking but of journalism, too – with the media in the […]


July 18, 2015 The Independent

Strange tales from the Great Western Railway

 Book review of Station to Station: Searching for Stories on the Great Western Line by James Attlee (Guardian Books, £14.99) IN the 1930s heyday of the railway – when the train companies studied the comfort of their passengers rather more […]


June 2, 2015 The Independent

We do like to be beside the seaside…

  I’M HOPELESSLY lost in Blackpool, blundering around beneath the Tower, dodging the touts and the hot-dog sellers, looking for the remains of Blackpool Central. Once everyone would have known their way here. It was the largest and busiest seaside […]


June 2, 2015 The Independent

The Trains Now Departed in the Independent and i newspapers

Here’s my article in today’s Independent and ‘i’ newspapers based on a chapter from my new book the Trains Now Departed, published tomorrow, May 7 http://ind.pn/1EX9MZe


May 6, 2015 Blog, The Independent

The end of our affair with the railways?

IT’S NOW as much part of the traditional British Easter as egg-rolling, simnel cake and chocolate bunnies. This Good Friday morning  the nation will wake up to find whole swathes of Britain turned into a public transport desert as Network […]


April 4, 2015 The Independent

Easter rail shutdown – the end of our affair with the railways?

Here’s what I wrote in yesterday’s ‘Independent’ and ‘i’ newspapers: IT’S NOW as much part of the traditional British Easter as egg-rolling, simnel cake and chocolate bunnies. This Good Friday morning  the nation will wake up to find whole swathes […]


April 3, 2015 Blog, The Independent

Will we ever love our trains again?

From the Independent and i newspapers April 2 2015 IT’S NOW as much part of the traditional British Easter as egg-rolling, simnel cake and chocolate bunnies. This morning [Friday] the nation will wake up to find whole swathes of Britain […]


April 2, 2015 The Independent

Now wonder commuters go off the rails…

Review of Rush Hour by Iain Gately (Head of Zeus, £16.99) The Independent,November 29 2014 Here are some facts you’d probably prefer not to think about as you get out of bed in the morning. Britain’s rail commuters are allocated […]


December 1, 2014 The Independent

Michael Williams – and my work with the Independent newspaper

I am often asked about my association with the Independent newspaper and it associated media titles. For most of my professional journalistic life I have been associated with the Independent – one of the world’s great media brands. For many […]

Do as I do, not as I pray

It could hardly be more be surreal. Here I am discussing the significance of the Lord’s Prayer, that most emblematic totem of the Christian liturgy, with the most powerful woman in British Judaism in the magnificent Victorian-Byzantine setting of the […]


April 18, 2014 The Independent

Steamed up about rail fares? Don’t be!

  It was the ironic TV image of the week. “We always pay more but they never seem to spend any money on the railways?” the angry King’s Cross commuter fumed in an interview about the latest train fare rises. […]


January 4, 2014 The Independent

On the slow train to Laos – the land that time forgot

Whoops…here’s a crystal glass of claret sailing across the restaurant car’s starched white tablecloth, heading straight for my lap. Hold tight…there goes my steaming bowl of soup volleying the other way. It’s not normally like this, aboard what has long […]


December 15, 2013 The Independent

How the old Great Central Railway could be the new HS2

Imagine a rail main line to the north running parallel to the controversial new HS2 route. It’s already built to the highest inter-continental standards. Much of the track is already in place and the stations and viaducts mellowed into the […]


October 28, 2013 The Independent

Luxury, dictator-style, aboard President Tito’s private train

Could there ever have been a more extravagant mobile assembly of the world’s nastiest dictators? Here, plushly seated on the 28 red leather chairs around the long conference table in this sumptuous railway carriage rolling elegantly through central Europe, are […]


June 3, 2013 The Independent

Speeding through Spain’s loveliest cities on the fast train

“Can I have your attention please?” announces Carlos our guard over the intercom, after the train has just come to a sudden halt in what seems to be the middle of an olive grove in the middle of nowhere. “We […]


October 25, 2012 The Independent

Why journalists need a conscience clause

She had been a bright student with a good degree who had trained as a journalist, believing it was somehow an honourable career. Instead, in her first job on a newspaper she was told to dress up in a skimpy […]


June 25, 2012 The Independent

Speeding through Andalucia on the fast train Spain

“Can I have your attention please?” announces Carlos our guard over the intercom, after the train has just come to a sudden halt in what seems to be the middle of an olive grove in the middle of nowhere. “We […]


May 3, 2012 The Independent

How good design can make trains sexy

In a world dominated by anoraks, bobble hats, enamel badges and vacuum flasks, railways and fashion are not obvious partners. Most of us boys gave up finding trains sexy when we discovered girls. And most girls – of any age […]


March 3, 2012 The Independent

Spooky ghost trains that haunt Britain’s rail network

Could there be anything less ghostly than the scene at London’s Paddington station on this bright December morning? The sun is sparkling through the glass of the newly restored canopy of Brunel’s magnificent terminus as commuters and shoppers scurry across […]


December 25, 2011 The Independent

A gorgeous branch line survivor from the railways’ Golden Age

What’s the difference between a twitcher and a gricer? Answer: not much. One spots birds and the other spots trains. Unfortunately there’s not an imminent prospect of sighting either from where I’m sitting on this gorgeous spring afternoon amid the […]


April 25, 2011 The Independent

Sit back, relax and watch the sights steam by on the world’s greatest rail trips

The Deerstalker Express, London Euston to the West Highlands In the unglamorous world of Britain’s privatised railways, there is one train that still recaptures the thrill of travel to romantic and lonely places. The 21.05pm sleeper to Fort William will […]


January 1, 2011 The Independent

Britain’s five best slow trains

Settle and Carlisle railway: Drama abounds on this magnificent ride over the “roof of England”. A masterpiece of Victorian engineering, it includes the famous Ribblehead viaduct. Cumbria Coast line: Britain’s best-kept railway secret. Sandwiched between the Lakeland fells and the […]


April 25, 2010 The Independent

So much pain in our love affair with the train

There are few love affairs more passionate than that of the British with their trains. On a basic level it’s obvious. We invented the railways and pride in the great heroes of the railway age – the Stephensons, Trevithick, Brunel […]


April 3, 2010 The Independent

So much pain in our love of the train

There are few love affairs more passionate than that of the British with their trains. On a basic level it’s obvious. We invented the railways and pride in the great heroes of the railway age – the Stephensons, Trevithick, Brunel […]


January 1, 2010 The Independent

Will the ‘Evil Doctor’ Beeching ever return to haunt us again?

There are few things more evocative of the British landscape than the country branch line. A little engine chuffs along a single track, a few wisps of steam drifting across the fields, the sun glinting off its copper-capped chimney. There […]


October 1, 2009 The Independent

Hurrah for Britain’s trainspotter army

Future historians trying to get to the heart of the early 1960s should inspect closely photographs of any major railway station in the land. Kings Cross, Euston, Crewe, York, Edinburgh, you name them. Here the platform ends were thronged by […]


March 25, 2009 The Independent

Riding Bond-style on the train Smersh would have loved

Glamorous, sure. But would Bond have approved? As the Danube Express, Europe’s newest luxury train, pulled majestically out of the austere platforms of Berlin’s Schönefeld airport station for its maiden journey to Budapest last week, I’m thinking of the world’s […]


September 27, 2008 The Independent

Aboard Lawrence of Arabia’s railway, through Syria and a meeting with the last Jewish family

I had somebody to find in the warren of streets and alleyways in the old walled city of Damascus. There is no mention of him in the guidebooks, but I’d heard the rumours more than once.  Would he still be […]


November 25, 2007 The Independent

Forget the car! Our idyllic, organic, low-carbon holiday to the West Country

“Are there smoked salmon in the lake, Daddy?” Shhhh! This is my five-year old son giving away our secret ­– that we are just another bunch of townies on a trip to the countryside. But we’ve a special reason not […]


May 1, 2007 The Independent

On board for thrills as London-Brussels Eurostar breaks record

Railway historians will have to rewrite the record books after a train from Brussels to St Pancras International yesterday achieved the fastest rail journey ever between a European capital and London, knocking more than 30 minutes off the current timing. […]


May 1, 2007 The Independent

Kangaroo ckass across the desert aboard Australia’s greatest train

“It depends on whether you are going to do a big one or a tiddler,” says Jade, hooting with laughter. We’re in the middle of nowhere on the edge of the Australian outback, inspecting the Heath Robinson flushing mechanism of […]


April 25, 2007 The Independent

Thrilling Tasmania – ‘like outer space on earth’

They rolled in off the Roaring Forties, spouting and with their flanks glistening like fountains on basalt. Who knows where they had come from. There is nothing much in the 10,000 wind-tossed miles of the great Southern Ocean between here […]


April 3, 2007 The Independent

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