Why Trains?

It’s a reasonable enough question.

Train travel is, in my humble opinion, a true British institution.

We have the oldest railway system in the world, covering nearly 10,000 miles – that’s roughly three times the distance from London to New York. Covering the entire breadth of the country, crossing in and out of valleys, going under rivers and through major cities – its a truly interconnected system that has been the inspiration for countless other countries. Some of these tracks and lines have been active since the system’s inception, making these routes as much of a feature in the landscape as the buildings and roads that surround them.

The railway is similarly embedded in our country’s culture. Within the fiction written by our great authors (Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and Edith Nesbit’s The Railway Children jump to mind) and throughout our iconic works of cinema (Harry Potter’s first journey on the Hogwarts Express may be fictional, but still manages to encapsulate what is beautiful about a British train journey) trains have been ferrying millions of people around our country for nearly 200 years.

The writers who contribute to RTSC have their own reasons for loving train travel. Whether its a heightened sense of nostalgia, a convenient form of holidaying or simply a practical form of commuting; the trains have managed to worm their way into the hearts of our writers, leaving them with an obsession that is impossible to shake. Luckily, they have an outlet for their passion and, more importantly, a good excuse to indulge their desire for long-winding train journeys both within the UK and outside of it.

You know when you’ve become an obsessive when you start replacing your long-distance flights with even longer train journeys.

When you run out of allocated holidays half way through the year, because you’ve just booked a 15-day round trip to Naples, you know what kind of person you are. No – you’re not a ‘trainspotter’. You’re simply someone who prefers to take life at a slower pace. Someone who’s happy to watch the world go by at leisure, who appreciates the gradually changing landscape and understands the pure thrill of reaching their destination. Stepping onto a foreign platform, bag in hand, you are fully aware of the distance that you’ve travelled.

What’s more, you know that those same tracks will take you all the way home.