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The Railway Metropolis: How Planners, Politicians and Developers Shaped Modern London Hardcover – 20 Dec. 2016
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- Hardcover : 296 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0727761803
- ISBN-13 : 978-0727761804
- Product Dimensions : 21.59 x 1.91 x 26.67 cm
- Publisher : ICE Publishing (20 Dec. 2016)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: 778,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer reviews:
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As someone who assisted Professor Colin Buchanan at the GLDP inquiry in the 1970`s where the four ring roads proposed in the plan (only the outer orbital – now the M25 -was built) attracted huge public opposition, I can confidently assert that the scale of rail building in London that has materialised was never foreseen. The six lines that transformed London: Docklands Light Railway, Jubilee Line Extension, High Speed One, Overground, Thameslink and Crossrail have enabled London to grow at densities never envisaged in the 1970`s when threads of Abercrombie`s dispersed strategy for the future London were still lingering in County Hall. Londonism is a term coined by The Economist to describe a creed which is pro-finance, pro-immigration and investment hungry and was championed by Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson and now Sadiq Khan. It would not have been possible without the massive rail investment that has dramatically improved both connectivity and productivity in the capital city.
The book is copiously illustrated and details the planning, technology, choice, design and funding decisions that have shaped London`s rail network since 1980, and the changing operating practices, fares and management that have been equally critical to the modernisation of London`s transport system. What marks this book out from the vast railway literature glimpsed in any second – hand book shop is the extensive coverage given to how the political and administrative decisions were made, the mistakes, the sub- optimal choices, the naïve assumptions. The author concludes that nevertheless none of the new lines built in London has been a mistake and many have succeeded beyond expectations. But almost all schemes have taken longer and cost substantially more than originally promised. Evaluating the achievements and mistakes of the last quarter century, London – in the author`s view – gets a Len Goodman score of “7” out of 10. He is optimistic that if the lessons described in the book can be applied the mark for the next quarter century will be higher.
Make no mistake, this is not a book that can be read in one sitting. It possesses a substantial Thump Factor, and is therefore best taken in little bites; but the layout of the book makes it equally useful for people preferring a skim to a deep dive, as the graphics and text work well together. The book should therefore appeal to a broad range of readers, from economists to engineers to historians. And for policy types, the Lessons Learned alone should save the time and cost of many a consultant’s study.
As the city is one of the world's most dependent on rail infrastructure, it is fortunate that Michael Schabas is both an insider and a writer; his book does this complex subject justice.
Henry Posner III
Railroad Development Corp.
Pittsburgh, PA, USA