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  • Rail companies need stiffer penalties

    The cattle have started mooing. The least surprising statistic of the year is the revelation by Transport Focus yesterday that rail passenger satisfaction has been falling faster than the pound after Brexit. To be fair to the railways, there have been some extenuating circumstances. In particular, the chaos on the biggest franchise –  Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern – has been going on for weeks with management incompetence exacerbated...

  • Rail 803: Transport policy, what transport policy?

    Having written about transport policy for more than twenty years, it has become obvious to me that there isn’t one. Instead, policymakers keep on repeating the same mistakes, believing that transport is a secondary issue dependent on other aspects of the economy and government, and therefore unworthy of expending any great intellectual or political effort. This lack of any coherent strategy is the reason why railways have, over the...

  • Small can be beautiful for the railways

    Railways are all the rage. Passenger numbers are at their highest level since the 1920s and there is no sign that recent growth, which has seen total annual number of journeys double over the past 20 years, is slowing. There is a real commitment among politicians to rail, as demonstrated by the all-party support for the new high-speed line linking London with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. But it is...

  • Rail 802: What the EU has done for us

    A couple of issues ago,  I speculated about the possible impact of Brexit on HS2, suggesting it was probably the only way that the scheme could end up being shelved or scrapped.  That did not, as I stressed, turn me into an Outer as I firmly believe that the European Union is more of a good thing than a bad one, crucially in the area of keeping peace in...

  • Rail 801: The contradictions of competition

    Competition is the cuckoo in the franchising nest. One of the key drivers behind rail privatisation was the desire to encourage competition between rail companies. One minister in the Major government in the mid nineties, Roger (now Lord) Freeman, spoke airily of trains for secretaries rattling slowly behind the faster version occupied by their bosses.  There would be red trains and green trains racing from London to Scotland, just...


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RT @BiciklantoS Holiday reading @christianwolmar Are Trams Socialist. Brilliant survey UK / English transport policy over last century.


About Christian Wolmar

Christian Wolmar is an award winning writer and broadcaster specialising in transport and is the author of a series of books on railway history. In the autumn of 2012, he announced he is seeking the Labour candidacy for the 2016 London mayoral election. Read more >>.


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Wolmar's Railway Library

This is a collection of classic railway history books which I have selected for reprint and which you can buy in either e-form or as special editions.