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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Britain's Railways don't work., 9 Mar. 2010
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This review is from: Eleven Minutes Late (Paperback)
Travellers may often ask why British railways are quite so bad especially when compared to those on the continent or further afield. In this book which is part travelogue, part history,Matthew Engel seeks to answer the question revealing how the railway system has been the victim of shortsighted political manipulations by successive governments reluctant to invest but all too keen to look for profits.
The book starts with Engel's account of his journey from one end of the country to the other. His enthusiasm brings to life the beautiful, melancholy of the railway line cutting through remote Scottish glens, the architectural grandeur of the stations and his sympathy for the railway enthusiasts who are convnetionally represented as oddballs and misfits. His depiction of politicians is sharp and barbed and often cynical. Engel is highly critical of the forced closure of local services in the 1960s and the ridiuclous privatisation of the 1990s. He mocks the pretensions of many of the companies and reveals the awful quality of passenger service.
What makes this book work is that Engel always writes with balance and precision; his writing is full of a sharp humour and he captures the spirit of the 19th century railway builders beautifully.
I can only say that I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book!!
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