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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book About Railways - Not Loco Numbers!
What's this? A book about trains, spotting them and the enthusiasts who lurk at the ends of platforms with flasks and cameras at the ready like some saddo paparazzi? If anyone had told me a month ago that I would be reviewing such a book I would have seriously questioned their knowledge of my inner workings. Yet here we are - a thoroughly researched, cleverly written and...
Published on 30 Dec. 2006 by Graeme Wright

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars An informative and humourous look at railways in UK and Ireland
With humour and wit Marchant describes his experiences and oservations while travelling Britain's and Ireland's railways including journeys taken on some narrow gauge, preserved and London Underground railways. There are some interesting historical insights into why our railways are as they are today. This book doesn't go into detail about motive power and rolling stock...
Published 16 months ago by Chas


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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book About Railways - Not Loco Numbers!, 30 Dec. 2006
By 
Graeme Wright "book worm" (salford) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Parallel Lines: Or, Journeys on the Railway of Dreams (Paperback)
What's this? A book about trains, spotting them and the enthusiasts who lurk at the ends of platforms with flasks and cameras at the ready like some saddo paparazzi? If anyone had told me a month ago that I would be reviewing such a book I would have seriously questioned their knowledge of my inner workings. Yet here we are - a thoroughly researched, cleverly written and very interesting book about the very same. Mr Marchant has that elusive knack of being able to present cold facts and figures in a manner which enthrals and entertains while at the same time getting in a few direct kicks at the shoddy state of Britain's railway industry today.

This book succeeds in its quest due to its blending of topicality with history and tradition; written in 2002 it is enviously well placed to observe and comment on the shambles that is rail privatisation as well as musing on the idyllic fantasy of its previous incarnations over the previous hundred and seventy years. To achieve this with both humour and a biting criticism is the mark of a great social commentator - most railway passengers soon learn that there is little room for the former in today's corporate-run industry - sorry, service. Whether he is reminiscing about boyhood trips from Newhaven, comparing the merits of York's National Railway Museum with Crewe's The Railway Age, going on an eighteen hour bender around London's Underground system (rather him than me) or exploring the secret world of the model railway exhibitor Mr Marchant proves throughout that he know his standard from his narrow gauge and is a train spotter of the highest order. More importantly he is also a damn fine - and funny - writer on the subject and for that we should all be grateful.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Once and Future Railway, 28 Feb. 2009
By 
Stewart M (Victoria, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Parallel Lines: Or, Journeys on the Railway of Dreams (Paperback)
This is a highly readable book, although maybe not as funny as some of the review suggest. The opening page hooked me, but I think that the central idea of the book - that two railways exist, one experienced through the heart and one of experienced through delays, poor service and cancellations - is the real core of the book.
Many people - and not just train enthusiasts - have a vision of trains as they may have been in the past and it seems inevitable that trains will again play a more central role in transport in the future. This then seems to be the key idea of the book - there is a vision of the past, which may not have actually existed and a wish for the future which may not come to pass. So this is a book about the Once and Future Railway. The genuinely funny parts of the book more often than not deal with the nightmare of using the actual railway of today. I think it's reasonable to say that problems with railways are not limited to the UK. I live in Australia and the trains in Melbourne breakdown when it gets hot!
This book approaches train enthusiasts with a degree of respect they may not get elsewhere, and it raises the reasonable point that it is no more extreme to want to get the detail of your model trains correct than it is to (as an example) memorise the players and positions of all Manchester United's FA Cup Teams.
This book will undoubtedly appeal to more than just railway enthusiasts - and I challenge anybody not to integrate the term "Rivet Counter" into their lexicon of abuse!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Railways Interesting" Shock!, 22 Aug. 2003
By 
George Green (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Fans of Marchant's other 2 books (The Battle for Dole Acre and In Southern Waters, which combine pin-sharp observation with broad-brush farce, and if you haven't you should check them out) will have some idea of what to expect. Comparisons with Bill Bryson are unfair but perhaps inevitable - man with pencil wanders about on a vague quest meeting assorted grotesques, stereptypes and odd-balls - but what makes it interesting, not to say amusing, quirky and every so often laugh-out-loud-funny is Marchant's ability to nail the scenes and characters with the phrase juste. Excellent, and the most entertaining thing you'll read all year. Take it on a train.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chuffing marvellous, 5 Nov. 2009
By 
M. Parker (Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Parallel Lines: Or, Journeys on the Railway of Dreams (Paperback)
Ian Marchant is a great travelling companion, and this is the best book I've read about our much maligned railway system. All too many books about trains and railways disappear off into a tunnel of extreme nerdiness - which has its place, I know, but it's not for me. It was great to read a well-researched, passionate and funny book about our railways from someone I'd actually like to share a journey with, rather than scaring the living daylights out of me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars not interested in trains? then buy this book, 7 Mar. 2009
By 
J. S. Bywater-lees (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Parallel Lines: Or, Journeys on the Railway of Dreams (Paperback)
funny, political, sharp, witty, and if you have zero interest in trains it really is worth having a fat middle-aged educated wit take you on a journey of a lifetime. You may want to get off a little before the last stop in case Ian gets all emotional. But still his best book although the funny fiction of 'in southern waters' by Ian Marchant is worth digging around second hand booksellers for.

Buy it for your mum or girlfriend.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Salute the BASHER, the Titan of Rail Travel, 26 July 2004
By 
Stephen T. Lewis (Fife, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Parallel Lines: Or, Journeys on the Railway of Dreams (Paperback)
I was astounded how Ian Marchant captured so much of the Basher's art in a digestible form. The Basher is not a spotter and neither are "cool". But so what? Ian deals with this very eloquently with his astute analysis of that Titan of rail travel. Ian also investigates the somewhat sad history of our railways and the various highs and lows (especially privatisation), and wraps this up as a wonderful social history of "The Permanent Way".
There is no place for any branded marketing in here, and so much the better, just gritty individuals contributing to the rich fabric of "the network". Buy the book and read it on the train.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real page turner - About railways?, 19 April 2010
By 
Cheerio (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Parallel Lines: Or, Journeys on the Railway of Dreams (Paperback)
This is a very enjoyable book. Ian Marchant has an easy, witty, self deprecating style. He also knows his stuff. I was truly sorry to finish it. I didn't want it to finish, but it got me painlessly (by air) to South America and back! A very talented writer. More like this please. :)
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book made me very, very happy., 23 July 2004
By 
Bryony Evens (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Parallel Lines: Or, Journeys on the Railway of Dreams (Paperback)
What a fabulous book! Within minutes of reading the first chapter I was already quoting the funniest bits to my friends, and causing arguments about it. It's caused me several very late nights this week as I haven't been able to put it down. I also got funny looks on the tube during the laugh-out-loud moments. I haven't read a book that I immediately wanted to sit down over a pint and argue with the author about for years. I grew up with a railway goods yard (obviously it's now a housing estate) behind my house, and can do a recognisable impression of a class 40 pulling a quarry train coming out of the cutting. I spent my 18th birthday travelling to Bath 'the pretty way', on the line down the Welsh Borders instead of via Birmingham; during a long wait for a connection on Newport Station, the author will be proud to hear that I taught myself to smoke. I also once went on the line from Carnforth to Maryport, past Sellafield, 'because it was there'. This book has inspired me to get my finger out and ride the Settle to Carlisle, and to use the train to visit Scotland further north than Edinburgh, something I've been meaning to do for years. Why didn't I think of it sooner? Thank you Ian Marchant!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anoracks are very sensible pieces of clothing-just not cool!, 12 July 2004
By 
Mr A Keen (Newcastle Under Lyme, Staffordshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Hilariously funny. I had never previously read, or indeed heard of, Ian Merchant before, now I am collecting his books!! His humour has you laughing out loud at times, yet his personal stories can leave you crying. Excellent and factual except for this gauge & scale issue...........
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far from hitting the buffers!, 28 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Parallel Lines: Or, Journeys on the Railway of Dreams (Paperback)
Like some of the other reviewers here I had not heard of Ian before randomly buying this book - but on turning the last page I will seek out his others.

A healthy mix of travelling frustrations, demystifying the types and reasons of the railway enthusiast, personal comments on society and the looking back/looking forward of a full life to be had.

A page turner and an easy read with a healthy mix of the practice, history, policy and nostalgia surrounding one of the best ways to travel -when it all runs well.

Parallel Lines brings together the Parallels in Ian and his friend (we all have one like him)lives, those of his suffering girl friend and the retold history of the 'Fat Controllers' of the railways.
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Parallel Lines: Or, Journeys on the Railway of Dreams
Parallel Lines: Or, Journeys on the Railway of Dreams by Ian Marchant (Paperback - 5 July 2004)
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