Wednesday 14 September, 7pm
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'The greatest expert on British trains' - The Guardian
'Christian Wolmar is in love with the railways. He is their wisest, most detailed historian and a constant prophet of their rebirth... ' - Observer
You think you know British Rail. From the sandwiches to the inefficiency to the violent yellow livery, we haven't looked kindly on the last of our great state-owned organizations to have been privatised. Born into post-war austerity, traumatized, impoverished and exploited by a hostile press, the state-owned railway was dismissed as a dinosaur unable to evolve, and swept away by a government hellbent on selling it off.
But you don't know the whole story. British Rail is ripe for a new history, and now award-winning writer Christian Wolmar provides a new perspective on national loss in a time of privatization. From its creation after the Second World War, through its fifty-year lifetime, British Rail was an innovative powerhouse that transformed our transport system, uniting disparate lines into a highly competent organisation, heralding 'The Age of the Train' and for a time providing one of the fastest regular rail services in the world.
British Rail is published by MIchael Joseph on 9 June 2022: it can be ordered from HIve.co.uk
Christian Wolmar is a writer and broadcaster specialising in transport, and the author of a series of books on railway history. He has spent nearly all of his working life as a journalist, writing for every national newspaper except The Star: although he concentrates mainly on transport, he has covered many other social policy issues and has written on a wide range of subjects, from cricket to the Private Finance Initiative.
He writes regularly for a wide variety of publications including The Times, The Guardian, The Oldie and The Spectator. Transport Correspondent for The Independent from 1992 to 1997, he has had a fortnightly column in Rail since 1994 and for a time had regular features in Surveyor, Transport Times and TSSA Journal. All his material since around 2000 – nearly 1,600 articles - is available on the website.
Acknowledged as one of the UK’s leading commentators on transport matters, he broadcasts frequently on radio and TV and is a regular pundit on national news bulletins. Among numerous feature TV appearances, he has been on Julia Bradbury’s Railway Walks, railway programmes presented by Ian Hislop and Michael Portillo, and BBC4 series about how the railways made modern Britain.
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