03 January 2009

"Fire & Steam" by Christian Wolmer

I have recently finished reading "Fire & Steam - How the Railways Transformed Britain" by transport journalist Christian Wolmar.

It is a very good history of the development of rail transport in the United Kingdom. It is particularly interesting on the relationship between the rail industry and successive governments over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is a real lesson in the need to clarify objectives and not be surprised if an industry struggles when required to meet conflicting ones imposed by government. It is also a lesson in the complexities of the transport system.

One comment in the book in particular struck me as worth thinking about:

"... expenditure on roads has always been deemed to be investment, while rail spending has been classified as subsidy." (page 284)

Reviews of Fire & Steam have appeared in:
This book is clearly written by an advocate for rail but deserves to be read not just by rail enthusiasts.

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