A North Yorkshire Moors Railway locomotive at Pickering
Railway books, maps and timetables: This is intended for anyone interested finding out more about railway history and rail travel in the UK and continental Europe, plus some resources for those interested in the more arcane subjects of railway maps and timetables. There is a huge volume of literature about railways and trains – every obscure branch line has its own historian and there are many guides to great railway journeys. This is only a small selection of those which Steve and Ted have found particularly interesting to read and to help plan their travels. Details of each publication are at the foot of the page.
For Great Britain The Railways – Nation Network and People by Simon Bradley is a comprehensive history of the railways and their place in social history. Other books dealing with railway history and policy in Britain are Fire & Steam and British Rail – A new history by Christian Wolmar, Eleven Minutes Late by Matthew Engel and Disconnected by Chris Austin and Richard Faulkner (which looks particularly at railway closures). For journeys round Britain by train from a traveller’s point of view, see The Next Station Stop by Peter Caton.
A collection of old railway tickets from the frontispiece of The railways, Nation, Network and People
Railway architecture and stations
Britain’s Lost Railways by John Minnis is a history and commemoration of the architecture of Britain’s railways and stations. Included is a selection of memorabilia such as reproduction posters maps plans and tickets. Britain’s 100 Best Railway Stations by Simon Jenkins, is exactly what it says, and will make you want to visit Wemyss Bay among others. In Tiny Stations, Dixe Wills visits every request stop on Britain’s railway, resulting in interesting tales. We’ve done a few ourselves (see Away from the rush hour – railway stations ) but we now have no wish to stop off at Altnabreac.
Railway maps and atlases
For the map nerd with an interest in railway journeys worldwide (i.e. Steve) we recommend Great Railway Maps of the World by Mark Ovenden, a collection of the world’s best historical and contemporary railway maps. and Transit Maps of the World, by the same author, which claims to feature every metro map on Earth.
The best collection of historic UK railway maps is the excellent The Times Mapping the Railways by David Spaven and Julian Holland. For Scotland see The Railway Atlas of Scotland by David Spaven. The website http://www.railmaponline.com maps all known present and past railways in the UK and Ireland at a large scale and is regularly updated.
For Europe a summary map of current railway lines is Rail Map Europe (produced by the compilers of the European Rail Timetable), which highlights the most scenic lines throughout the continent. The European Railway Atlas by Mike Ball is more detailed – the tourist edition includes the most important lines and stations and the concise edition shows all of Europe’s railways. Mr Ball also produces a regional series of atlases covering the whole of Europe which maps all current lines and stations. For the countries they cover there is nothing to beat Schweers and Wall’s Eisenbahnatlas series which detail superbly all lines and railway features in the relevant country.
Track maps and Diagrams
For the total nerd see the Track Atlas of Mainland Britain by Trackmaps, which details Britain’s railway infrastructure – every track formation – on a geographical base map. Intended more for the railway professional and beyond even Steve’s nerdness level, Trackmaps also produce regional volumes of track diagrams – line diagrams of every railway track, crossover, junction, station and railway feature in the region.
Track map of the Dundee Area and the Winter 2019/20 European Rail Timetable
The European Rail Timetable (the successor to the Thomas Cook European Timetable) is essential for planning railway journeys. Many countries no longer publish paper or online timetables and online journey planners are not good enough to show all the options for complex journeys. The ERT covers all main and most local lines. The timetable is updated and published six times a year. The two winter and summer editions, with additional information for travellers and summaries of timetables throughout the world are sufficient for most purposes. Details of online timetables for individual countries are included in our accounts on this site of our travels.
Bradshaws produced railway timetables until 1961. The reprint of the Bradshaws July 1922 Railway Guide contains every timetable in Great Britain and Ireland at the time of the maximum extent of the railway network. The reprint of Bradshaw’s Continental Railway Guide 1913 contain timetables and guides to Europe designed for the Edwardian traveller. It was the guide used by Michael Portillo in his Great Continental Railway Journeys series. We took it along on some of our Great Rail Journeys tours to impress the groups.
The best online guide to planning rail travel across the world is the well-known Man in seat sixty-one, Mark Smith – essential reading for anyone planning rail travel in a new country. His website is at http://www.seat61.com .
Wemyss Bay station, Inverclyde, one of Britain’s 100 Best Railway stations
Details of the publications are below. Many can be found in good bookshops and the principal online booksellers. Some more specialised books are most easily obtained direct from the publishers, in which case details of their website is provided. In some cases a more recent edition may be available.
A Harzer Schmalspurbahn train heading uphill towards the Brocken, during the first snow of winter, in early October 2016.
The Railways – Nation Network and People, Simon Bradley, Profile Books, 2015. Fire & Steam. How the Railways Transformed Britain, Christian Wolmar, Atlantic Books, 2007. British Rail – A new history, Christian Wolmar, Penguin Michael Joseph, 2022. Eleven Minutes Late. A train journey to the soul of Britain, Matthew Engel, Macmillan, 2009. Disconnected! Broken links in Britain’s Rail Policy, Chris Austin and Richard Faulkner, OPC, 2015. The Next Station Stop. Fifty years by train, Peter Caton, Matador, 2013.
Britain’s Lost Railways, A commemoration of our Finest Railway Architecture, John Minnis, Aurum Press, 2017 edn. Britain’s 100 Best Railway Stations by Simon Jenkins, Viking, 2017. Tiny Stations, An uncommon odyssey through Britain’s railway request stops, Dixe Wills, AA publishing, 2014.
Genoa – probably the least interesting entry in Transit Maps of the World
Great Railway Maps of the World, Mark Ovenden, Particular Books (Penguin), 2011. Transit Maps of the World. The World’s first collection of every urban train map on Earth, Mark Ovenden, edited by Mike Ashworth, Penguin, 2007 edn. The Times Mapping the Railways, The journey of Britain’s railways through maps from 1819 to the present day, David Spaden and Julian Holland, Times Books, 2011. The Railway Atlas of Scotland, Two hundred years of history in maps, David Spaven, Birlinn / National Library of Scotland, 2015.
A railway poster from Britain’s Lost Railways
Two extracts from the Schweers and Wall Eisenbahnatlas Schweiz, 2012 edn. – the network of railways and cable cars around Zermatt and the railways and tramways of Basel
The Rail Map Europe, 3rd edition revised, Sept 2022 is available from http://www.europeantimetable.eu . The European Railway Atlas Tourist and Concise editions and the regional series are available in printed and digital form from http://www.europeanrailwayatlas.com . Schweers and Wall’s Eisenbahnatlas series (in German with a key to the maps in English) can sometimes be found on Amazon. Other options are the online railway bookshops platform 5 publishing at http://www.platform5.com and Eisenbahn Kurier (German) at http://www.ekshop.de .
Track Atlas of Mainland Britain, A comprehensive geographic atlas showing the rail network of Britain, Platform 5 publishing, 3rd edn, 2017 is available from http://www.platform5.com and http://www.trackmaps.co.uk , as are the regional series of Railway Track Diagrams, published by TRACKmaps.
Railway track diagram of Newcastle upon Tyne from Railway Track Diagrams, Book 2: Eastern, ed. by Martyn Brailsford, TRACKmaps, 4th edn., 2016
The various versions of the European Rail Timetable are available from http://www.europeantimetable.eu in both print and digital formats.
Bradshaws July 1922 Railway Guide. A new edition of the July 1922 issue of Bradshaw’s General Railway and Steam Navigation Guide for Great Britain and Ireland, Guild Publishing 1985. Out of print though used copies are available on Amazon. Bradshaw’s Continental Railway Guide and General Handbook 2013, facsimile of original edition, Old House, 2012, still in print.
Steve and Ted have a small collection of railway tickets – this is some of the old-style cardboard tickets. Spot the ticket to Hell and back.
Photographs and copyright: The photographs are by Steve Gillon, though of course copyright of the books concerned belong to the authors and copyright holders. The text and photographs are copyright © Steve Gillon, 2020.