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Railway Blunders Paperback – 23 Oct 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Ian Allan Ltd; New ed. edition (23 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071103169X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0711031692
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 1.1 x 25.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 909,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Adrian Vaughan is one of Britain's best-known railway authors. His experience of a career as a signalman was recorded in a series of highly successful books and, subsequently, he has become a well-respected author of various aspects of railway history. He is the author of a number of well-received books from Ian Allan Publishing, most recently, Tracks to Disaster, Glory Days: Western Engineman and Glory Days: Western Signalman. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. Danes on 30 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
So you've read the review above... and it's true, Adrian Vaughan wears his heart on his sleeve. As a long-serving grass-roots railwayman, it's natural for him to bemoan the death of 'his' BR. And you can choose to find his attitudes offensive if you like - I rather like this book for its personality. But Mr Vaughan's stance is more nuanced than a simple comparison of leg-value would suggest. What he detests most is the bad management decision, taken for the wrong #usually dogmatic# reasons. And he isn't so partial as to let the rail Trade Unions get off scot free either; the NUR is allocated some of the blame for the failures of freight-building initiatives.

What is refreshing is Mr Vaughan's range of targets. He has a good go, for instance, at the #for some# almost saint-like IK Brunel, and Webb of the LNWR comes in for some trenchant criticism in an interesting departure from the norm. The range of featured blunders is quite wide, and though the impression is that most of them come from the post-war period, the magnitude of earlier blundering examples compensates for their relatively small numbers. It would have been nice to find more from pre-nationalisation days, like the effects of races between 'natural monopoly' companies, which some have held at least partially responsible for such disasters as the 1906 Grantham derailment - perhaps material for another book?

This volume is ideal for dipping into: it has a fine readable style with plenty of appropriate and well-captioned illustrations. Some of its engineering and railway terms may perhaps be unfamiliar to a casual reader without much pre-existing railway knowledge - but these things are easily looked up. One small point: there are a fair few proof-reading blunders of the type caused by word processors - an irony that Mr Vaughan should appreciate, given his views on the computer control of Virgin Voyager trains.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bob Sherunkle VINE VOICE on 23 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
A good book by the excellent Adrian Vaughan; it could have been a very good book. The book really gets into its stride a third of the way through, from the 1948 nationalisation onwards. Much of the earlier material is too well-known; for example, I learnt nothing from the chapter on the Tay Bridge disaster, which read as if it was entirely based on John Prebble's book.

The best parts of the book are:
-Those explaining obscure topics such as the short-lived use of the SMJ for ironstone traffic (I assume that, if you've read this far, you know what I'm rabbiting on about)
-The examination of some routes which were closed in spite of demand
-The in-depth treatment of failed modern technology, e.g. the Virgin Voyagers which are happy going along the Dawlish sea wall so long as the tide is not so high as to soak their rooftop computers!
-The fragmented structure since privatisation; we all know this in theory, but would you believe it took most of a day to clear a derailment because no one of the companies involved would admit responsibility, and thus incur the huge penalty fees

Time and time again, Vaughan pours well-deserved scorn on the way the privatised network (or non-network) relies on spin and supposed customer care, rather than outmoded principles such as running trains safely and on time.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 10 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
The book has much to commend it in terms of the history it reveals, from the origins of the railways up to the modern day (2003 seems to be the most recent). Perhaps the most illuminating was that which related to the pre-1923 operations, before grouping into the 'Big 4'. The examples are interesting, the level of detail thorough. In this respect, it is a fascinating read.

What spoils it for me is the author's repeated rants and barbed comments on the politics of the railways. I have no issue with an author having a political position, advocating it and showing the weaknesses in opposing points of view. But the author's approach is more more simplistic, essential 'Four legs good, Two legs bad' in its tone. He is also insufficiently critical of the failings of the nationalized railway system. What is communicated is that it was a great way to run things, but was spoiled and sabotaged by those with a different political agenda. There is no respect for the idea that those pursuing the choices they did may have done so for what they considered good and sensible reasons. It's fine to highlight their mistakes, but the author doesn't stop here - those people are derided as stupid, politically bigoted (a charge that, of course, could not be applied to the author !), etc. It leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth and detracts from the otherwise high quality of the work.

Buy it, read it, and be informed by it. But be very aware when doing so that you are being exposed to a highly partial point of view.
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