Tomorrow’s transport art today

Never mind the weather. The mother of all icebreakers is public transport. Every city dweller has an opinion on public transport, an opinion which is often swiftly followed by a disaster story or two. And, given the demands of modern life, it’s not surprising that so many of us cringe at the thought of public transport. Continue reading

Railway to Heaven

Trains and railways have always fascinated me. There’s something incredibly romance about the idea of packing a few of your possessions and travelling the world aboard electrically powered metal centipedes of beautiful design. I’ve not yet been on a steam engine, but it is something I’d love to experience.

A recent TV series that caught my attention is Great British Railway Journeys. This half-hour factual show (broadcast on BBC Two) follows Michael Portillo – former minister for transport – as he travels on four long railway journeys across Britain, making use of a Victorian travel guide at intervals.

This guidebook was written by George Bradshaw and the series has opened my eyes to many local facts that I never knew about my home nation, as well as displaying how Britain has evolved since the Victorian era. The picturesque aerial shots of trains passing through meadows and serene countryside are also something to saviour.

Dirty, grimy and unreliable… yes, that’s the other, more contemporary, view of trains. It’s certainly warranted, but even the railway journeys of today can be spectacular – just imagine travelling Japan, the Mediterranean or the USA by rail.

It may be something I’ll never get to do, but someday it would be nice to pack a few essentials, board a train with two good friends and then proceed to travel all over Britain. We’d record our journey in a video diary, and take viewer everywhere from dilapidated hostels we’re force to find refuse in, to finding out about regional British nosh, to historic seaside towns now filled with skateboarders, surfers and a crowded nightlife. And, of course, we’d be visiting (and maybe even eating and sleeping at) stations up and down the country. Not a luxurious, or even envious, crusade, I’m sure, but it’d be a great cultural expedition.