Picture of author.

About the Author

Includes the name: Christian Wolmar

Works by Christian Wolmar

British Rail (2022) 28 copies
A Short History of Trains (2019) 13 copies

Associated Works

The Golden Age of European Railways (2013) — Introduction — 7 copies


Common Knowledge



Mostly a good summary history of the underground. The most obvious flaw is that after WW2 it suddenly goes at a galloping pace until the PPP fiasco of the 2000s, which does get a good bit of attention. The Victoria line is skipped over in a couple of pages, the Fare's Fair issue which brought down the GLC gets talked about but not really explained and the rest is just "there wasn't enough investment". The original Jubilee line gets mentioned only in passing. It's weird and I'm not sure why he approached it in that way. Otherwise the only mildly annoying issue is that he tends to mention plans and places without maps and you'll have to look them up online to understand the geography of a few bits even if you know the system well.

Otherwise it's enjoyable on the subject and even as someone who knew the basics there's a good amount of interesting details and stories. Does make you weep for what could have been if London had had consistent planning and investment of infrastructure and development though.
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tombomp | 5 other reviews | Oct 31, 2023 |
Very interesting book with many things you are not likely to find elsewhere. But it was written by an Englishman and like most Englishmen everything elsewhere is less important. Europe gets a better brake than the U.S. But considering our size, it wasn't just a convenience, but integral to the settlement of the West, that is, West of New England. Before the RR the best way to California was around South America, once you moved very far you never saw your family again and mail service there was almost nonexistent.… (more)
Newmans2001 | 2 other reviews | Nov 15, 2022 |
A competent and wide-ranging history of the development of railways world-wide.
Dilip-Kumar | 2 other reviews | Nov 2, 2022 |
I’m a railway enthusiast, fan, anorak or whatever you want to call it, so perhaps my view on this book is slightly tainted? But, why would you read a book that is clearly about rail history if you’re not already interested in the subject?
So, from that position, yes this is a marvellous book. Going from the earliest days of the colliery lines, Trevithick, Stephenson and forward through the 20th century. It’s thorough, perhaps overly in places, but it rewards perseverance. If you were to read only one book on rail history generally, then make it this.… (more)
solexine | 7 other reviews | Oct 21, 2022 |

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