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  • Signal box battle

    Petersfield signal box is in the wrong place. Or at least it is now. Actually, when it was built in the 1880s, it was precisely in the right place, near the tracks and next to the level crossing which the signalman controlled. It had to be. Signal boxes had a series of big levers which controlled both signals and the points on the track. The boxes had to be...

  • October newsletter: new books and the bloody viruses

    Sorry I have missed out a couple of months, due to holidays and overwork. But I will try to produce a regular issue over the coming months. Covid-19 and the response to it dominate everything at the moment,but life has to go on and books have to be published. The first of my three books – one new, two revised – that are being published this autumn has just...

  • Who is going to save the railways?

    An emergency situation requires an emergency response. So far we have seen little sign of it. Passengers numbers remain at a fraction of 2019 levels and despite the change in messaging from ‘don’t use the railways’ to ‘use them if you are careful’, they are likely to remain depressed for many years to come. The government has recognised that the old franchising model is dead but is deeply opposed...

  • Who will save the inner cities?

    At times I feel like crying. I did the other day when I met a railway manager at St Pancras at 9 o’clock in the morning. Instead of the usual hustle bustle along the walkway between the Underground and Thameslink, there was a handful of people, few of whom showed any urgency to reach their destination. Outside the picture was the same. The usually jammed bike racks had plenty...

  • The privatisation that never was

    Let’s stop pretending that the railways were ever really privatised. When they were broken up into two main parts, the infrastructure and the operating companies, in the mid 1990s the idea was that they would be at the cutting edge of capitalism, subject to market forces and the discipline of the private sector. In fact, within a few years Railtrack, the infrastructure company, failed as a result of the...


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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. He was Labour's candidate for the 2016 Richmond Park & North Kingston by-election and also ran to be Labour's candidate in the last London mayoral election. Read more >>

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In some drunken moment, I promised that I would get my legs waxed to raise money for the @RailwayChildren. I can't believe I ever did but here is the evidence ..so please contribute if you want me to be humiliated...givergy.uk/railaid/?contr…

About 7 minutes ago