Christian Wolmar to Attend GWR Book Festival in September

Christian has spent nearly all of his working life as a journalist, and his interest in transport began at The Independent when he was appointed transport correspondent in 1992, a job he did until 1997. Although he mainly concentrates on transport matters, he has covered many other social policy issues and has written on a wide range of subjects, from cricket to the Private Finance Initiative.

After graduating from Warwick University, Christian worked on various publications including the Retail Newsagent, Marketing and the Hampstead and Highgate Express. He later moved to the New Statesman and the London Daily News and spent a year working for Camden council editing its magazine.

Christian divides his time between journalism, media appearances and writing books and political campaigning. He writes regularly for a wide variety of publications including newspapers such as The Times and The Guardian – he has written for every national newspaper except the Star – and numerous magazines, such as The Oldie and the Spectator. He has had a fortnightly column in Rail since 1994 and for a time had regular features in Surveyor, Transport Times and TSSA Journal.

Christian is acknowledged as one of the UK’s leading commentators on transport matters. He broadcasts frequently on radio and TV and is a regular pundit on the national news bulletins of terrestrial channels and Sky. Among his numerous feature TV appearances, he has been on Coast, Julia Bradbury’s Railway Walks and the railway programmes presented by Ian Hislop and Michael Portillo, and a series on BBC4 about how the railways made modern Britain.

In 2011 he was the captain of the Warwick team of graduates in the Christmas University Challenge, which reached the final of the competition.

Notable railway titles from Christian include: ‘Cathedrals of Steam’, ‘The Story of Crossrail’ and ‘British Rail: A New History’. Details of each of these titles can be found below.

Cathedrals of Steam – How London’s Great Stations Were Built – And How They Transformed the City

London hosts twelve major railway stations, more than any other city in the world. They range from the grand and palatial, such as King’s Cross and Paddington, to the modest and lesser known, such as Fenchurch Street and Cannon Street. These monuments to the age of the train are the hub of London’s transport system and their development, decline and recent renewal have determined the history of the capital in many ways.

 Built between 1836 and 1899 by competing private train companies seeking to outdo one another, the construction of these terminuses caused tremendous upheaval and had a widespread impact on their local surroundings. What were once called ‘slums’ were demolished, green spaces and cemeteries were concreted over, and vast marshalling yards, engine sheds and carriage depots sprung up in their place.


In a compelling and dramatic narrative, Christian Wolmar traces the development of these magnificent cathedrals of steam, provides unique insights into their history, with many entertaining anecdotes, and celebrates the recent transformation of several of these stations into wonderful blends of the old and the new.


The Story of Crossrail

In December 2018, Crossrail the biggest urban rail project ever in the United Kingdom was supposed to open. Just four months before the planned opening, the project managers confessed that the opening date was unrealistic. Now, finally, after three years and an extra £3.5bn, this £19bn project is opening in the spring. The Story of Crossrail has now been updated in a paperback version to relate both the story of what is a fantastic world class railway that will be a big post pandemic boost to London and also how the project went off the rails as the project team deluded themselves about the task of completing a very complex railway.

This is a fully updated edition of the Crossrail Story, taking in both the story of the amazing engineering which went into building a new railway under London and how the project nearly went off the rails due to a combination of hubris and self-deception.


British Rail: A New History – The authoritative and fascinating history of the rise and fall of the state-owned British Rail.

You think you know British Rail. But you don’t know the whole story.

 From its creation after the Second World War, through its fifty-year lifetime, British Rail was an innovative powerhouse that transformed our transport system. Uniting disparate lines into a highly competent organisation – heralding ‘The Age of the Train’ – and, for a time, providing one of the fastest regular rail services in the world.

 Born into post-war austerity, traumatised, impoverished and exploited by a hostile press, the state-owned railway was dismissed as a dinosaur unable to evolve, and swept away by a government hellbent on selling it off.

 Now, award-winning writer Christian Wolmar provides a new perspective on national loss in a time of privatisation.

 British Rail is ripe for a new history.

The book festival, which will be open between 10:00 and 16:00 in the Tim Mitchell Building at Winchcombe station, offers visitors a great opportunity to browse through a selection of books both newly published and old favourites. Books covering all interests, including railways, will be available, plus a number of popular authors and resident writers will be on hand to sign copies.

In addition to Christian Wolmar, confirmed authors for the event include: Mary Lay, David Aldred, Neil Parkhouse, Humphrey Gillott, Stephen Done and Elizabeth Eyre. Other writers who may be seen during the day at unspecified times include: John Cruxon, Nicolas Wheatley, David Capron, Elspeth Fewell and Bryan Nicholls. Opportunities for children to listen to readings from their favourite authors are scheduled to take place throughout the day.


Julia Harwood, Shop Manager, commented: “I’m extremely excited that we are hosting our first ever book festival at the GWR with resident and visiting authors. There will be something for everyone at the event, who loves railways whether they live locally to the railway or are visiting from further afield.”


If you’re a fan of reading and all things literary, then this is an event to write in your diary. For tickets and further details about the book festival, please visit A 5% discount is automatically applied to all tickets purchased online.