My bit-part in Circus of Dreams – a romp around the literary world of the 1980s by John Walsh

HAVE just been reading a delightful book by John Walsh, former books editor of the Sunday Times, which is an intimate and engaging romp through the literary world of the 1980s. It features many of the great names of the […]

May 29, 2022 Blog, Uncategorized

How good are our railways? My interview with ITV’s ‘Tonight’ programme

JUST retuned from York, where I enjoyed doing an interview for ITV’s ‘Tonight’ programme on the state of Britain’s railways. It was carried out at the wonderful National Railway Museum by the distinguished journalist Adam Shaw (left in the picture). […]

January 25, 2022 Blog, Uncategorized

Could this be one of of the best books ever about the railways?

I’VE just acquired one of the most extraordinary and original new books about the railways, among the myriad of titles pouring out from the presses every year. It is called “Railways: A history in drawings” – a bland enough title […]

July 13, 2021 Blog, Uncategorized

Advice to Great British Railways: Get up steam with a good marketing campaign for train travel

THERE have been predictable reactions to the creation by the government of the new supervisory body for the railways to be called Great British Railways (I must say  rather like the way they have pinched the name from my book […]

May 20, 2021 Blog, Uncategorized

Farewell to the High Speed Trains – the best trains ever built

BRITAIN’S celebrated High Speed Trains bowed out this week on the last stretch of railway on which they could show their paces – the Midland Main Line from St Pancras to Sheffield. Sleek, elegant and still modern-looking,  despite being 45 […]

May 16, 2021 Blog, Uncategorized

Stop the vandals of Highways England destroying our wonderful legacy of disused railway lines

  ONE OF the legacies of the Beeching closures in the 1960s has been a wonderful inheritance of old railway bridges, tunnels and trackbeds which have melded into the landscape and are often used by cyclists, walkers and other rural […]

May 5, 2021 Blog, Uncategorized

Beeching line that came back from the dead shows the way forward for the railways

  WONDERFUL news that daily rail services are to restart between Okehampton and Exeter in Devon for the first time in nearly 50 years. December has been pencilled in for the resumption of regular passenger services on the 14 mile […]

March 19, 2021 Blog, Uncategorized

Will HS2’s grand architectural features turn out to be a series of elegant white elephants?

It will be one of the grandest pieces of railway architecture since the Victorian age – a brand new bridge longer than the famous Forth Bridge, built in the heroic tradition of Stephenson and Brunel. The bridge, which will carry […]

March 16, 2021 Blog, Uncategorized

A new station after 56 years – but why does it cost so much money to reverse Beeching closures?

YOU may think of it as the place where London’s police force first originated in 1749 or the famous orange location on the Monopoly board. But the new Bow Street station which opened this week is nowhere near the bright […]

February 15, 2021 Blog, Uncategorized

The golden age of the train – filming with Michael Portillo for new series of the BBC’s Great British Railway Journeys

ENJOYED breakfast with Michael Portillo at the Great Northern Hotel at King’s Cross filming an episode for the new series of Great British Railway Journeys for the BBC. We were talking about the Golden Age of rail travel in the […]

October 20, 2020 BBC, Blog, Uncategorized

Coronavirus risk from travelling by train is lower than thought

TWO studies into the spread of COVID-19 on railways have found that the chance of contracting the disease by travelling on a train is extremely low, according to a report in Rail magazine The RSSB (formerly the Rail Safety and […]

August 7, 2020 Blog, Uncategorized

Welcome to HS2 and the new heroic age of the railway

  TODAY is the dawn of a new age of the railway as Boris Johnson gives the go-ahead for HS2 as well as new tracks across the Pennines. At last we have a vision in the spirit of Stephenson and […]

February 11, 2020 Blog, Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

Unconventional, Irreverent Independent Newspaper To Go ‘Off Stone’ And Online

Goodbye Independent! My farewell from the European Journalism Observatory website

February 14, 2016 Uncategorized

A nice mention of my place in the literature of railway nostalgia from the Times Literary Supplement

It’s from a review by Andrew Martin of Simon Bradley’s excellent new book, The Railways, Nation, Network and People  

November 27, 2015 Uncategorized

The best and the worst of railway dining car meals

THE best and the worst of railway dining car meals. On Friday I took the 13.05 Great Western Railway train to Plymouth. Slipping into the dining car I enjoyed a splendid meal of fresh dressed Cornish crab in shell, caught […]

October 5, 2015 Uncategorized

The Trains Now Departed – some nice coverage in the Yorkshire Post

THE Yorkshire Post have run a nice piece on my chapter on ‘ghost trains’ in my new book The Trains Now Departed: Sixteen Journeys into The Lost Delights of Britain’s Railways – to be published on May 7. The picture […]

April 29, 2015 Blog, Uncategorized

The Trains Now Departed arrives – while On the Slow Train books still doing well in amazon list

WITH my new book, The Trains Now Departed out in less than three weeks, it’s good to see that my two best-selling original books celebrating the joy of railway travel – On the Slow Train and On the Slow Train […]

April 20, 2015 Blog, Uncategorized

The Trains Now Departed – and the Best of British Rail Travel

I’ve been invited to Singapore and Hong Kong next month to give some talks in both cities about ‘The Best of British Rail Travel’ to coincide with the publication on my new book ‘The Trains Now Departed: Sixteen Excursions into […]

April 13, 2015 Blog, Uncategorized

The ultimate British railway journey of dreams – the train to Glastonbury?

I’ve been invited by the tourist authorities in Hong Kong and Singapore next month to give some talks about the’ Best of British and World Railway Travel’. So what is the ultimate railway journey of dreams in the UK. Not […]

April 7, 2015 Blog, Uncategorized

Churchill’s Final Journey and me – still Steaming to Victory 50 years on

My day with Winston Churchill – 50 years on. The National Railway Museum in York have put me and my schoolboy memories in a new exhibition about Churchill’s final journey, opening this Friday, January 30.  Here’s one of the images […]

January 24, 2015 Blog, Uncategorized

The Trains Now Departed – and how the ‘Testament of Youth’ movie gets it wrong

Amid the row over inaccuracies in the TV series Broadchurch, the movies don’t do it much better. I’ve just seen Testament of Youth, the autobiographical account of a group of friends in the run-up to and during World War One. […]

January 21, 2015 Blog, Uncategorized

Winston Churchill and Steaming to Victory: the story of a war hero’s final journey at the National Railway Museum

I’m off next week to help the National Railway Museum set up their new exhibition on Winston Churchill’s last journey. I’m contributing some memories from my book ‘ Steaming to Victory: How Britain’s railways won the war’

December 5, 2014 Blog, Uncategorized

The Trains Now Departed – a short history of time on the railways. My lecture this week at the University of Central Lancashire

Do join me at the University of Central Lancashire School of Tourism for my talk on how the railways shaped our modern concept of time. And how the philosophy of time and the railways are inextricably entwined. Wednesday December 3 […]

November 28, 2014 Blog, Uncategorized

Steaming to Victory – memories on Armistice Day

I took this picture of ‘Royal Scot’ class locomotive No. 46115 ‘Scots Guardsman speeding through Kentish Town station in north London on a special train from St Pancras this Remembrance Sunday. How appropriate to see this wonderfully restored locomotive with […]

November 11, 2014 Blog, Uncategorized

The Trains Now Departed – my newest book, published next May

‘The Trains Now Departed’. Thrilled with title of my latest book to be published by @PenguinRandomUK on May 7 2015

November 1, 2014 Blog, Uncategorized

A journey into the soul of the railways – my new book

I’m just back from writing the latest chapter for my new book on the cherished icons of our railways and why they run so deep in the British psyche. It’s to be published by Penguin Random House in Spring 2015. […]

July 18, 2014 Blog, Uncategorized

Father and son: How I bonded with my 12-year-old boy through our twin faiths. A story for Easter

 Here’s an extract from my article in today’s Tablet magazine: 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 […]

March 28, 2014 Blog, Uncategorized

Lovely review of Steaming to Victory on the Book Bag

A lovely review of the new edition of Steaming to Victory on Suzi Feay’s Book Bag. It’s one of the top online websites. Here’s what it says: ‘Soon after the end of the First World War, the British railways entered […]

March 25, 2014 Blog, Uncategorized

Steaming to Victory is ‘Chuffing marvellous’, says Daily Express

A super review of the new updated edition paperback edition of ‘Steaming to Victory’ in today’s Daily Express, which describes it as ‘Chuffing marvellous’. The reviewer says: ‘This highly readable book covers the essential but often overlooked role trains played […]

March 14, 2014 Blog, Uncategorized

Steaming to Victory – on board the Eurostar

Just returned from a Eurostar trip from London to Paris. I’m putting the train through its paces for a chapter in my next book following on from ‘Steaming to Victory’. Although the decor is a bit tired, the train performed […]

March 7, 2014 Blog, Uncategorized

Steaming to Victory – and the joys of the British Library

In the new edition of Steaming to Victory, out on March 27, I had to make some cuts to accommodate new facts that had come to light since it was first published last year. It was tough to know what […]

February 27, 2014 Blog, Uncategorized

Will they, won’t they build the new HS2-HS1 rail link through Camden?

Here’s me, asking the question of Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Lilian Greenwood at the Derbyshire Rail Forum on the terrace of the House of Commons last night

February 12, 2014 Blog, Uncategorized

On the Slow Train – and a Beeching tragedy in Cornwall

The terrible weather has cut the old Great Western line to Cornwall at the Dawlish sea wall. So vulnerable always! What a tragedy that Beeching axed the old Southern Railway route  round Dartmoor to the north. I argued this in […]

February 6, 2014 Blog, Uncategorized

Who reads the newspapers?

I love this clip about who reads the newspapers from the BBC comedy ‘Yes, Prime Minister. Despite the advent of tablet computers and smart phones it’s as true today as when it was first made…

January 25, 2014 Blog, Uncategorized

The BBC’s Great Train Robbery – splendid detail from the Slow Train era

The BBC’s film of The Great Train Robbery 50 years on scores not only on the pace of drama (from the creator of Broadchurch), but on the loving attention to detail – unlike most TV recreations of period railways. The […]

December 18, 2013 Uncategorized

‘Steaming to Victory’ – Rail magazine says buy it for Christmas!

‘Excellent railway reading material for Christmas’ is how Rail, the UK’s leading transport magazine, bills my new book ‘Steaming to Victory’. Britain’s top transport commentator Christian Wolmar describes it as his ‘favourite’, praising the book as a ‘meticulous account of […]

November 28, 2013 Uncategorized

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