Ever since Paul Theroux embarked in London on the first train of his Great Railway Bazaar, railways have been a rich source for the best travel writing. This is truer than ever in the twenty-first century. As the environmental implications of relentless air travel cast an ominous shadow over the prospect of foreign adventure, the opportunity to jump on a train at St Pancras and be whisked straight to the continent offers a wonderful alternative. Train travel has assumed a new pragmatic importance as well as romance – which is no doubt why so many more tour companies are offering a great train ride as part of their holiday itineraries. Now, Michael Kerr, the Telegraph’ s deputy Travel Editor, has burrowed deep in the newspaper’ s archives and collected together the very best of its writings about the railway: here are journeys non-stop from London to Vladivostok; across the Canadian Rockies; the first train to traverse Australia from Darwin to Alice Springs; and on the teeming, crawling, travelling adventure of Indian railways. In scenes much more familiar to the British commuter, Boris Johnson discovers his “ inner McEnroe” thanks to signal failure in the Midlands, and Michael Palin samples the delights of British Rail Inter-City. This is an anthology that will appeal to the railway buff and the armchair traveller alike; to anyone who has ever Inter-railed in their youth and everyone nostalgic for the days when the only way to cross a continent was by train.
Michael Kerr is deputy travel editor of the Daily Telegraph. He edited Last Call for the Dining Car for Aurum and Bon Voyage!: The Telegraph Book of River and Sea Journeys.