Review: Volume 49 - The Railways

Review: Volume 49 - The Railways

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On the eve of the railway age, London was the world s largest and most populous city and one of the most congested. Traffic-clogged roads and tightly packed buildings meant that travel across the city was tortuous, time-consuming and unpleasant. Then came the railways. They transformed the city and set it on a course of extraordinary development that created the metropolis of the present day. This is story that David Wragg explores in his fascinating new book. He considers the impact of the railways on London and the Home Counties and analyses the decisions taken by the railway companies, Parliament and local government. He also describes the disruptive effect of the railways which could not be built without massive upheaval. His study of the railway phenomenon will be thought-provoking reading for anyone who is keen to understand the city s expansion and the layout of the capital today.

Book Review: A Short History of Indian Railways

After reading a series of books based on dark comedy, I felt like reading a book that will be light in the mind. In that quest, I ran into a book titled ‘A short history of Indian Railways’ by Rajendra B Aklekar. I have never read a non-fiction on Railways before and it is a delight to have read such a literary work. The book starts off like a history publication with technical details on railway, but few pages into this book there are anecdotes that churn your mind—makes you imagine the journey of 174-year-old railway which was not less than a miracle.

It is interesting to read a book on railway that has romance, drama, comedy, tragedy, murder etc — all in one book. One can only imagine the pains the Britishers took in dealing with a culture that was alien to them while building the railways. And kudos to those Indian workers who decided to help the Britishers build a monster (railway) that was believed to bring ill-fate. Railways is one of the few things India thanks it coloniser for—in this book you will find reason for the same.

This book takes you through the journey of Independence struggle and role of railways in it. Many know about the large-scale protests Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, had taken during the freedom struggle. But the book talks about less know battle of Gandhi like giving Indians a third class treatment in railway journey and his fight against this injustice.

The author also writes about several assassination attempts made by haters of Gandhi which include attempts of derailing trains and putting not just Gandhi’s life at stake but life of hundreds of passengers.

Surprisingly, this book reasons the origin and monopoly of A H Wheeler & Co book stalls which can be found across Indian railway stations.

Another anecdote that is still a fresh memory in minds of many is the 2006 Mumbai train bombings. The author Aklekar pens down some details of that terror attack that shocked Mumbai. It brings back the horrendous memories of the blast and a nostalgia associated with it. The book ends with forward looking tales on metro lines and bullet trains.

This book is more like compilation of short stories which is factual in nature and is based in different time period. To be precise, this book is an acquired taste and also a light read.

How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography: The Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

Annotations vs. Abstracts

Abstracts are the purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes. Annotations are descriptive and critical they may describe the author's point of view, authority, or clarity and appropriateness of expression.

The Process

Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research.

First, locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic. Briefly examine and review the actual items. Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.

Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style.

Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that (a) evaluate the authority or background of the author, (b) comment on the intended audience, (c) compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or (d) explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic.

Critically Appraising the Book, Article, or Document

For guidance in critically appraising and analyzing the sources for your bibliography, see How to Critically Analyze Information Sources. For information on the author's background and views, ask at the reference desk for help finding appropriate biographical reference materials and book review sources.

Choosing the Correct Citation Style

Check with your instructor to find out which style is preferred for your class. Online citation guides for both the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) styles are linked from the Library's Citation Management page.

Sample Annotated Bibliography Entries

The following example uses APA style (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition, 2019) for the journal citation:

Waite, L., Goldschneider, F., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51, 541-554.
The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

This example uses MLA style (MLA Handbook, 8th edition, 2016) for the journal citation:

Waite, Linda J., et al. "Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults." American Sociological Review, vol. 51, no. 4, 1986, pp. 541-554.
The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume One: Not For Turning

Not For Turning is the first of two projected volumes in the authorized biography of Margaret Thatcher. Covering the period from her childhood in Grantham to the Falklands War of 1982, it offers the most comprehensive account yet published of Thatcher’s early life. Compellingly written, exhaustively researched and impressively fair-minded, it propels its author, Charles Moore, to the front rank of political biographers. Not For Turning is essential reading, not only for students of Thatcherism but for anyone with an interest in modern political history.

Despite her magnetic attraction for the genre, Thatcher is not a straightforward subject for the biographer. Unlike the great majority of political leaders, Moore notes, she ‘did not think autobiographically’. She cheerfully threw away old letters and files, and only when she became leader in 1975 did the Conservative Party begin archiving her correspondence. She viewed her diary strictly as a list of engagements not, as for Gladstone, as a private confessional or a hotline to posterity. Under pressure from journalists, she disinterred a handful of ‘small-town stories and paternal precepts’ from her childhood in Grantham, but ‘she did so in order to advance her cause, not in any spirit of autobiographical inquiry’. Her memoirs were largely written by others, for even in retirement Thatcher ‘hardly ever sat down to reflect upon the past’. This ‘was a life with no space for self-examination’ (pp. xi–xii).

If Thatcher had little taste for reminiscence, it was partly because her childhood was not an especially happy one.(1) She was born in Grantham in 1925, the second child of Alfred and Beatrice Roberts, and grew up over her father’s grocery shop. It was a household dominated by hard work and duty as Margaret later recalled, ‘I always got the books I wanted. But no pleasures’.(2) Beatrice, according to her elder daughter, was ‘a bigoted Methodist’ who simply ‘didn’t exist in Margaret’s mind’ (p. 9), and even the sainted Alfred had a troubled relationship with his famous offspring. Margaret forgot his birthdays, grumbled at having him around the house, and there is some uncertainty over whether she attended his funeral.(3) The later ‘Grantham myth’ was precisely that when she took a peerage in 1992, as Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, she took her title from the old administrative district in which her home town lay (which also gave its name to her old school), and not from the town itself.

Nonetheless, the lessons and precepts absorbed at Grantham would shape Thatcher’s career. ‘We were Methodist’, she later recalled, ‘and Methodist means method’. Her father’s sermons, dutifully recorded in his daughter’s exercise book, thrilled with proto-Thatcherite principles: ‘There is no promise of ease for the faithful servant of the Cross’ ‘God wants no faint hearts for His ambassadors’ ‘We must avoid the principle of a Denominational Closed Shop’ (p. 7).

All this undoubtedly left its mark on Thatcher, both in her tendency to sermonise and in her extraordinary appetite for work. Yet one of the real surprises of Moore’s book is the discovery of a very different side to her character, which no previous biographer had really captured. The young Margaret who emerges from these pages is passionate, romantic and even hedonistic someone who loved dancing, adored dressing up and was captivated by the glamorous world of Hollywood. When she went up to Oxford, in 1943, her letters home described a whirl of parties, dinners and sensational outfits. New costumes are described in minute detail, and their effect on her audience recorded with diva-ish glee. When Margaret’s first boyfriend, Tony Bray, gave her a carnation, she carried it to a friend’s house and watched anxiously as it was placed in a vase with water and aspirin. It was the first of many romantic conquests, giddily related in secret letters to her sister.

Thatcher was, nonetheless, often lonely: first at Oxford and then at Colchester, where she gained her first job as a research chemist. Salvation came from the Conservative Party, which at its high point in the 1950s claimed more than two million members. Moore captures superbly the social world of post-war Conservatism, which served its members as a dining club, social network and even dating agency. Like so many others, Thatcher met her husband through the Conservative Party, as well as undergoing a political training of a kind her successors could barely imagine. Thatcher’s apprenticeship was served, not in the Conservative Research Department or as a special advisor at Westminster, but on a soap box in Colchester, where she warmed up the crowd each weekend for the Conservative candidate ‘Cub’ Alport. There she learned to speak off the cuff and to deal with hecklers, while conceiving a dislike for Alport so powerful that he would later resign from the party during her leadership. Above all, she formed an emotional attachment to her party – and to ‘her people’ in the Tory grass-roots – to which neither David Cameron nor Ted Heath could ever lay claim.

As a woman from the provincial ‘shopocracy’, Thatcher was always closer to the party membership than to the masculine elite that dominated the upper reaches of the party. She had not attended public school. She had not been captain of cricket or ‘victor ludorum’, and knew nothing of the homoerotic culture of the male boarding house. She did not, like Jack Straw, spend her first day at secondary school learning that ‘rubbing up’ had nothing to do with furniture polish.(4) Nor would she have remembered Kesteven Grammar, as John Nott described his own alma mater, as a place of ‘muscular Christianity’, ‘cold baths’ and ‘homosexual activity’.(5) She had not fought in the Second World War or done National Service in the Empire. She held no military rank and knew nothing of the military codes and conventions that governed organisations like the whips’ office. For Geoffrey Howe, who had served with the British Army in Kenya and Uganda, it was second nature ‘that you don’t rebuke officers in front of other ranks’ (p. 353) yet this was a world to which Thatcher had simply never been exposed. Nor had she received the capacious sexual education on offer in the armed forces. When Nott first joined the British Army, soldiers were given a haircut, a uniform and ‘a prophylactic kit of condoms’. ‘Sex’, he recalled wistfully, was virtually the only topic of conversation’ hardly surprising, when ‘the most beautiful young German girls were available for a packet of five Woodbines’.(6) It was no coincidence that the moral reform movements of the 1970s, such as Mary Whitehouse’s campaign to clean up national television, were staffed chiefly by women, or that the men in Thatcher’s cabinet were less prone than she to talk of traditional moral values.

The roles and characteristics thought appropriate to women were, of course, changing markedly over the course of Thatcher’s career. She was born three years before the coming of universal female suffrage, and came up to Oxford at a time when all but a handful of colleges were closed to women. As a female undergraduate, she was automatically barred from the Oxford Union debating society. Her first employer, BX Plastics, paid her £50 a year less than the men around her, and her search for a constituency in the 1950s ran up against a constant tide of bigotry and condescension – what she herself labelled the ‘what a pity such a charming girl … such an unnatural life, should have stayed at home’ mentality (p. 79). Running for the Conservative nomination at Finchley, she predicted wearily that ‘the usual prejudice against women will prevail and that I shall probably come the inevitable “close second”’ (p. 134). (She may have been right – the chairman later claimed to have fiddled the votes to secure her the seat). Yet her rise to the party leadership in the 1970s coincided with the emergence of second wave feminism, and even Spare Rib cautiously welcomed Thatcher’s election.

Thatcher herself disliked being pigeon-holed as a ‘woman MP’. When invited to deliver the annual Conservative Political Centre lecture in 1968, she ignored her leader’s suggestion that she speak on ‘Women in politics’ and delivered instead a wide-ranging address on the state of modern government. (Women, she noted dryly, had ‘been around since Eve’ (p. 192)). Visiting the United States in 1969, she insisted on being listed as ‘Mrs Margaret Thatcher’, not ‘Mrs D. Thatcher’ – ‘although’, as a baffled official reported, ‘she is not a widow’ (p. 201). In what it clearly imagined was a compliment, The Finchley Press likened her performance in a speech on foreign policy to ‘a housewife measuring the ingredients in a familiar recipe’ (p. 136), and her clothes, hair and views on parenting were all considered legitimate matters of interest.

The very existence of such a woman seems to have deprived some men of their faculties. One businessman asked that his notes be placed under her pillow, while Kingsley Amis wrote rapturously of her ‘sexual beauty’. Alan Clark, whose appetites in this direction apparently knew no bounds, told Moore that ‘I don’t want actual penetration – just a massive snog’ (p. 436). This must all have been rather tiresome but Thatcher learned first to manage the problem and then to use it to her advantage. Her remarkable capacity for the double-entendre – she famously claimed to be ‘always on the job’, and once told a finance debate that she had ‘got a really red-hot figure’ (p. 161) – provided ample scope for a form of sexual badinage that had never really suited Ted Heath. Her capacity to switch between the flirtatious and the ferocious regularly disoriented opponents, both in Cabinet and in her dealings with the press.

Thatcher was openly contemptuous of feminism, deploring its critique of marriage and the traditional family. But she was equally dismissive of women whose horizons expanded no further than the home. After a dinner party with Willie Cullen (an early boyfriend, whom she subsequently married off to her sister), she dismissed the women present as ‘typical wives – they know of domestic matters and nothing else’. ‘I stayed with the men after supper’ (p. 90). Indeed, one of Thatcher’s great political assets was her ability to bridge the domestic and the political, using conventional images of womanhood to establish her own political authority. As early as 1949, she told an adoption meeting that ‘The Government should do what any good housewife would do if money was short – look at their accounts and see what was wrong’ (p. 81). Mocking ‘the high language of economists and Cabinet ministers’, she urged women to ‘think of politics at our own household level’ (p. 87), translating Conservative economics into the commonsense of good housekeeping. When a Labour minister attempted to interrupt her, during a debate on household taxes in 1966, he was firmly rebuked. ‘The right honourable Gentleman’, she growled, ‘is not so good on clothes washing and dish washing machines as I am, so he had better sit down’. ‘I am terrified’, the minister stuttered. ‘I was only about to make a simple point…’ (p. 182).

Thatcher’s political positions, in these years, were founded on gut instincts rather than philosophical preoccupations, though she would later find support for them in the writings of Friedman, Hayek and Popper. She was staunchly inegalitarian, convinced that ‘Nations depend for their health … upon the achievements of a comparatively small number of talented and determined people’ (p. 465). The ‘greatest advances of the ordinary person’, she believed, were ‘the products of the achievements of the extraordinary person’ (p. 334). Government, therefore, should always be on the side of the great individual: ‘the person who is prepared to work hardest should get the greatest rewards and keep them after tax’ (p. 294).

Thatcher was not, however, an individualist in an atomistic sense. She believed in the family as the bedrock of civil society, and in the peculiar destiny of the British nation across the world. She was an enthusiast for the empire – which she insisted in 1945 ‘must never be liquidated’ (p. 53) – and her early speeches identified ‘Imperial Preference’, rather than free trade, as ‘the cornerstone of Conservatism’ (p. 80). Yet she seemed little troubled by the dissolution of the empire, seeing it as further evidence of the greatness of Britain’s imperial conception. The British, she boasted, had been ‘the first imperial country voluntarily to give up sovereignty … There’s been nothing like it in history’. The story of Empire had been a ‘marvellous’ thing, which had made Britain ‘one of the greatest, most fervent advocates of democracy … of any country in the world’. In Thatcher’s view, what had made Britain strong was not its natural resources or its exploitation of colonial populations, but the peculiarly English values of ‘fairness’, ‘equity’, ‘individuality’ and ‘initiative’. ‘How else did this really rather small people, from the times of Elizabeth on, go out in the larger world and have such an influence on it?’(7)

It followed that, in order to restore British greatness, ‘we must firstly believe in the Western way of life’ (p. 112). That conviction was fundamental to Thatcher’s career, explaining both her hatred of socialism, which she saw as morally corrosive as well as economically flawed, and her horror of inflation. It also made her suspicious of consensus. Thatcher understood the necessity of compromise, but she disapproved of those who made compromise an objective in its own right. Politics, for Thatcher, was a moral arena, and compromise smacked of appeasement. ‘The Old Testament prophets didn’t go out into the highways saying, “Brothers, I want consensus”. They said, “This is my faith and my vision!”’ (p. 408).

In all these respects, Thatcher’s sympathies were somewhat to the right of the Conservative leadership in the post-war years. She liked and admired Enoch Powell, and continued to associate with him even after his notorious ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in 1968. Yet Thatcher was also a party loyalist, in a way that was never true of Powell. She only once defied the party whip in more than thirty years as an MP –her solitary act of rebellion coming not on an economic question or on the expansion of the state, but on a vote to restore corporal punishment for young offenders. She would defend her party’s record on the most unpromising of subjects, insisting that Neville Chamberlain was owed ‘a great debt of gratitude’ (p. 19) for his handling of Nazi Germany and that Anthony Eden had been ‘let down by others’ during the Suez crisis (p. 130).

Nor did she accept the charge of betrayal later pinned upon the post-war governments of the 1950s. On the contrary, Moore observes, she seems to have emerged from the war years with ‘a fairly strong belief in the capacity of Whitehall men and ideas to run the country’ (p. 51). She claimed credit, on behalf of the Conservative Party, for both the founding of the National Health Service and the welfare state, and insisted that it ‘was the Tories who introduced the finest food-rationing system during the war’ (p. 87).(8) As Education Secretary from 1970 to 1974, she largely followed the orthodoxy of her department, promoting higher pay for teachers and doing little to obstruct the trend to comprehensive education. In public she even applauded the spread of progressive educational methods, though privately she thought it ‘all rag dolls and rolling on the floor’ (p. 227).

‘Until February 1974’, Moore argues, Thatcher’s ‘career had been mentally conformist’ (p. 253). How, then, did this rather unimaginative party loyalist become the radical leader who gave her name to an ideology? For Moore, the answer lies in the failure of the post-war settlement to deliver the things that Thatcher demanded of it. With inflation rising, public expenditure escalating and the authority of the state coming increasingly into question, Thatcher concluded that the old gods had failed. As she broadened her reading under the influence of Keith Joseph, she found in thinkers like Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek the intellectual tools with which to challenge the post-war settlement. Yet this, Moore argues, was a pragmatic accommodation to experience, rather than the implementation of an explicitly ideological programme. When Thatcher ‘came to overturn the post-war economic consensus’, he concludes, ‘she did so because she believed it had failed, not because she had never believed in it in the first place’ (p. 170).

There are two possible objections to this approach. The first is that it endorses a specifically Thatcherite reading of the 1970s, in which the failure of the post-war settlement produced Thatcherism as its natural – and inevitable – corrective. This is a view with which Moore is clearly sympathetic, and in these chapters alone, the strict impartiality of the text slips a little.(9) The second objection is that it suggests a binary choice: between ‘Thatcherism’, on the one hand, and the continuation of ‘consensus politics’ on the other. Yet the ‘monetarist’ agenda of the New Right was only one of a dizzying array of new political strategies on offer, as governments grappled with problems that had been largely dormant in recent decades. Tony Benn, Michael Foot and Arthur Scargill were, in this respect, as much critics of ‘the post-war consensus’ as Mrs Thatcher and their prescriptions arguably lay further outside the political mainstream. The question, then, is not simply why Thatcher lost faith in Keynesian social democracy, but why she was drawn to the policies of neo-liberalism rather than to the many other options under discussion on the Right.

The answer, as Moore shows, lies in the overlap between the technical prescriptions of monetarism and the moral values that drove Thatcher’s politics. Though she enjoyed debating the finer details of monetary control, her attachment to neo-liberalism was always instrumental. The attraction of monetarism was that it appeared to reward hard work, encourage thrift, and tame the redistributive consequences of inflation. This moral case for monetarism not only drew Thatcher to the policies of the New Right it also gave her an extraordinary resilience in the face of adverse economic data. In a remarkable exchange in 1980, when the pressure to change course was most severe, Thatcher rebuked an interviewer for assessing her policies in purely economistic terms. ‘If we had ever looked at Dunkirk as a kind of balance sheet, as sometimes I am asked to look economically at this country, well I don’t think we would have gone on at that time. If you looked at it as a matter of the spirit of the people then it is totally different’ (p. 529).

In this respect, ‘Thatcherism’ was never, at root, a policy programme. Rather, as Moore notes, it was ‘a disposition of mind and character embodied in a highly unusual woman’ (p. 536). The task of translating these dispositions into policy fell chiefly to others, and especially to Geoffrey Howe. Relations between Howe and Thatcher were always strained he had stood against her in the leadership election in 1975, and his cautious, lawyerly style – reminiscent of a sheep engaged in philosophical contemplation – sorely tested Thatcher’s patience. Yet it was Howe, together with Nigel Lawson, who devised the economic policies of the first term and who carried them through against the instinctive caution of the prime minister. The abolition of exchange controls, the drastic cuts in income tax, the near-doubling of VAT and the Medium Term Financial Strategy were all pushed through against a backdrop of scepticism and anxiety from Number Ten.

As Moore cheerfully acknowledges, Thatcher was in some ways remarkably ill-prepared for the challenges of the premiership. As a minister, she had never risen higher than the Department of Education, and civil servants were surprised to discover that ‘she wasn’t terribly well briefed on the macroeconomic problems’ (p. 456). Her instincts on foreign affairs were simplistic and tinged with xenophobia. She distrusted the Germans, disliked the French and found European Commissioners ‘tiresomely foreign’ (p. 488). She was also suspicious of black nationalism, though more because she suspected it of Marxism than from any racial prejudice. Her first Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, joked that she ‘hardly knew where Calais was’, while Jonathan Aitken suggested that she thought ‘Sinai’ was ‘the plural of sinus’ (p. 365). Nor did she have much idea how to manage a Cabinet or run a private office. Even admirers complained of her reluctance to think strategically, and John Hoskyns told her openly that she lacked ‘management competence’ (p. 641).

How, then, did she survive in office for so long? Three particular strengths emerge from Moore’s account. In the first instance, she was persistently underestimated by those around her. Whether from sexism, class prejudice or sheer myopia, opponents routinely underestimated both her formidable abilities and her tenacity of purpose. Just as Heath had failed to take her seriously as a rival, the Tory ‘Wets’ seem to have regarded her as an accident of history, whose curious ideas would dissolve in the collision with reality. Thatcherism, it followed, was to be endured, rather than challenged. This was an analysis shared by the SDP leadership, which was more interested in displacing Labour as the government-in-waiting than in challenging the party that was actually in power. As David Owen later acknowledged, SDP strategists were already ‘looking ahead to the next bit. They assumed that they would come through the middle when Thatcherism failed’ (p. 549).

Secondly, Thatcher had a fixity of purpose that allowed her ministers to see through controversial policies. Towards the end of 1980, a particularly testing time for the government, Geoffrey Howe identified ‘the Thatcher factor’ as one of the few assets of the administration. ‘People do have a sense that this Government – more particularly you … is possessed of a tenacity, which might just work, if only it’s sustained’ (pp. 535–6). Once Thatcher was persuaded of a particular policy – a process that could take considerable time and energy – she could usually be relied upon to stick to it, whatever the deterioration in the polls or the short-term economic data. This not only won the loyalty of key ministers it also made her the focus of attention within the government for those who wanted to achieve fundamental reforms.

Thirdly, Thatcher was more willing to take advice and even to change her mind than her public reputation would suggest. On Rhodesia, for example, she backed the multi-racial settlement favoured by the Foreign Office in spite of her distaste for Robert Mugabe. At least until the final years of her premiership, she rarely allowed her prejudices to overrule her caution. Here, as in other respects, the Thatcher that emerges from these pages is more cautious, more pragmatic and even more willing to give way than is commonly believed. She is also more human, someone who found the pressures of high office often hard to bear. There are tears and eruptions throughout these chapters, and even in the early years Thatcher seems to have been drinking more than was healthy.

These strengths and weaknesses came together in the Falklands War – the decisive test of her first term, and the moment, for Moore, when Thatcher ‘reached her zenith’ (p. xvi). Like many of Thatcher’s ministers, he doubts whether the decision to retake the Islands would have been made by a male prime minister, or one who had experienced the horrors and uncertainties of war. This is not to say that she was callous – she wrote personally to the families of all those who were killed, and wept bitterly for the loss of ‘my young men’ (p. 735) – but that she was less conscious of the risks of failure. She was, however, acutely aware of her lack of military experience, which made her more willing than in other fields to defer to her generals on the conduct of the war. She also came closer to compromise than had previously been believed. As Moore demonstrates, Thatcher was willing to make concessions that would have appalled many of her supporters. Under pressure from the United States, she reluctantly accepted a Peruvian peace plan that would probably have ended British sovereignty and that certainly compromised the right of the Islanders to decide their own destiny. Not for the last time, it was the intransigence of an opponent that compelled Thatcher to play for total victory.

Success in the Falklands marked Thatcher’s apotheosis. It settled the question of whether a woman could lead her country in time of war, and gave her government a triumph of the kind that had been singularly lacking in domestic policy. It entrenched Thatcher’s reputation as a popular patriot, and gave her a global reputation to which few British premiers can aspire. Ominously, it also deepened her confidence in a certain model of leadership, establishing what Moore himself calls ‘the dangerous idea that she acted best when she acted alone’ (p. 753). From 1982, Thatcher was far more prone to trust her instincts against the judgement of her Cabinet. As so often, the seeds of defeat were sown in victory.

To celebrate the Argentine surrender, Thatcher gave a dinner at Downing Street for the Lord Mayor and 120 of those who had been involved in the Falklands campaign. Spouses were not invited, though there was to be a reception for them after the dinner which meant that Mrs Thatcher was the only woman in the hundred strong gathering. After a speech hailing ‘the spirit of the Falklands’ – ‘the spirit of Britain which throughout history has never failed us in difficult days’ – Thatcher pushed back her chair and smiled. ‘Gentlemen’, she asked ‘shall we join the ladies?’ In the words of one of her ministers, Thatcher was now very definitely ‘one of the boys’. As Moore wryly concludes, ‘It may well have been the happiest moment of her life’ (p. 758).

The Welsh Gull

The BBC seem to have started making railway documentaries again, which is great. For years we train buffs have had a bit of a raw deal from major TV channels. I’ve still got loads of Making Tracks episodes from the mid-1990s on tape, in which Bob Symes and Mary-Jean Hasler introduced me to steam engines here in Britain and around the world, and this is alongside the John Peel-narrated Classic Trains on Channel 4 and HTV’s series on the Cambrian Railway presented by Arfon Haines Davies. When was the last time there was a good series on railways on TV? The last I can remember was Channel 4’s Waterman on Railways, presented by Britain’s most famous enthusiast Pete Waterman, but this must have been a decade ago.

So Locomotion, Dan Snow’s series on the history of Britain’s railways, is a nice a touch after all these years. And for the most part, I think it was done very well. In the first of three episodes, he started pre-Trevithick and concluded with the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830, charting how tramways and wagonways were developed into the modern railway with steam engines for carrying first freight and then passengers. So far, so good.

The second episode picked up where the first left off, covering the railway boom from the L&M through to the financial crash of 1866 (in which he was pointing out the similarity between that financial disaster and the global financial crisis of 2007-08 which we are still feeling the effects of. He deals in case studies like George Hudson and Samuel Morton Peto, who made and lost a fortune in the development of railways, without dealing in specific lines themselves other than the London and Birmingham (and the incredible achievement that was the construction of Kilsby Tunnel) and the British influence in the construction of the Grand Trunk Railway in Canada.

At this point, though, alarm bells start ringing – not because of the episode itself, which dealt with the process of the development of what is still the spine of our railway network pretty well. The problem is that it left one episode to cover the period from 1866 to (presumably) the present day, which is a lot of ground to cover when you’ve just spent one episode covering 36 years. And so it proved to be a bit more problematic.

The problem wasn’t necessarily what was covered – it was all very interesting, talking about the development of railway safety, British influence in Argentina and the role of the railways in World War I. The problem started with about 15 minutes to go, as you realise that only now the programme was getting to 1923, when the railway companies of Britain were grouped into the Big Four companies. Within that last 15 minutes, the programme tentatively covered the issue of the development of road transport, how the Metropolitan Railway helped develop the suburbs of London, and the battle between the LMS and LNER to break speed records. The section on Mallard’s record in 1938 finishes with just a couple of minutes left.

It is at this point that things fall apart for me, as Snow concludes a whole series that on the whole felt more like social history by effectively saying “Britain created the railways which created the superpowers which then overtook us so we weren’t the leader of the world any more. The end.” After all that, he just rams it into the classic grand international political narrative, effectively rendering all railway history after World War II irrelevant because our empire was finished and we were America’s bitch. For a moment I thought I was watching a Niall Ferguson documentary.

Now of course Snow may not have been meaning to give the impression that he was supportive of the idea of our global domination (although coupled with the section on British influence in Argentina, it bloody looks like he does). But even so, it feels tacked on and completely ignores what he had spent the previous 3 hours of programme building up – the idea that Britain was changed socially and culturally by the railways in ways in which few people acknowledge. Yes, there is an idea running through it that “Britain built the railways and the railways built Britain”, but I never interpreted that in a global way until the conclusion.

A far more appropriate ending would have been to finish talking about the rise of the motor car – just before the bit about us not being powerful any more, he had been talking about this, and it certainly felt that this was the note he was going to end on (and what a thoroughly negative note that would have been, considering more people travel on trains today than at any time since the 1923 Grouping and we’re in the middle of a new period of enormous investment in the railways by the government). But then at the last minute it switched direction. I’d have preferred it (if he still wanted to ignore pretty much everything that happened in railways after 1945) if he had instead said “And so car ownership boomed, and the railway fell into decline…(sentence or two about Beeching)…but today things look much brighter…(sentence or two about current developments).”

The problem I have with finishing a series about Britain’s railways by talking about global politics is that it isn’t relevant. Just because the Cold War started and we weren’t a world power any more doesn’t mean anything changed on the ground. Britain’s railways kept running and kept changing, and they still are today. This is the problem I have as a historian-in-training with the idea of grand political history as a whole – it’s all very nice focusing on kings and queens, but did the people of Britain notice any difference when one monarch died and another was crowned? Social and cultural history is far more relevant because it includes a far greater proportion of people in a history, rather than focusing at a tiny minority at the top. Britain’s fall from superpower status is meaningless to Britain’s railways unless you expand on that – specifically, de-industrialisation, which was absolutely huge both for the railways and because of them.

And therein lies the problem with this series – it needed another episode. Along with deindustrialisation, it missed out the Beeching era of closures, dieselisation and electrification, the HST, nationalisation and privatisation, the Channel Tunnel and HS1, and the future developments like HS2 and Crossrail, which all have (or will have) varying levels of social and cultural influence in Britain beyond their significance in the sphere of railway history. Plus this is not to mention the almost-total overlooking of the London Underground (bar the Met), which is an absolutely enormous development not just in London but globally, and the role the railways played in developing seaside holiday resorts (and the role of the loss of the railways in their decline). Maybe I’ve missed the announcement of a second series or something, but it just feels odd that these significant events, which most people who know anything about railways today will know about and would be interested in finding out more about, are completely ignored. It’s a missed opportunity.

It is a shame that most of this article focuses on this rather negative facet, because on the whole I really enjoyed the series. It was slick and accessible, and focused on the important parts of railway history pre-1939. Yes, it was a narrative and you should always be suspicious of historical narratives, but it was done well – I can see the influence here of Professor Colin Divall of the University of York, to all intents and purposes Britain’s top railway historian. Dan Snow is a talented presenter who conveys his passion for the subject well. There were a few gimmicks which people might have a whinge about being unnecessary but I don’t mind those.

The problem is that I don’t think it stands up well to earlier efforts like Channel 4’s Classic Trains, which remains my favourite railway history series. It worked because it wasn’t in a narrative format – instead each of the 6 30-minute episodes were done thematically: industry, suburbia, narrow gauge, trams, expresses and freight. It was broad and yet specialist. It was a history of railway development and social history, by talking to people and charting how places were influenced by railways. It covered a lot more ground than Locomotion despite effectively having less time for content (because of adverts). And it still managed to cover that narrative of Stephenson to Beeching.

Locomotion gets a 7/10 from me, because it was largely enjoyable but the contrived end left me puzzled and unsatisfied. Classic Trains, which is all available on YouTube, gets a 9/10, because it was virtually flawless.

Coming soon: in the not-too-distant future, I will be launching a new blog focusing on the history of the railways of South Wales…


Background and 2003 reform Edit

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian Federation inherited 17 of the 32 regions of the former Soviet Railways (SZD). [8]

By 1998, total freight traffic was half the 1991 figure. [8] Government investment in the railway system was greatly curtailed, and passenger fares were no longer subsidized. [8] Though increasingly inefficient, the Russian railway system avoided major reform into the 1990s. [8] A Structural Reform Program, focused on restructuring the railway sector within 10 years, was ultimately approved in 2001. [9]

In 2003, the Federal Law on Railway Transport divided the Ministry of Railways into the Federal Railway Transport Agency (FRTA) and Russian Railways (RZD). [10] The reform also required RZD to provide access to railway infrastructure to other carriers and operators. [10] As the law requires carriers to provide service to customers anywhere in Russia, RZD retained its dominant position. [10]

Later in 2003, the Decree No. 585 established RZD as a joint stock company, making it a holding in charge of 63 subsidiaries, including TransContainer, RailTranAuto, Rail Passenger Directorate, Russian Troika, TransGroup, and Refservis. [10] RZD acquired 987 companies (95% in asset value) out of the 2046 that had formed the MR system. [11] Gennady Fadeyev, the Railways Minister, became the company's first president. [12]

The reform saw the creation of a new market segment following the privatization of the network's rolling stock. The company divided the bulk of its wagon fleet between two new operating companies, Freight One (which was later privatised) and Freight Two (renamed Federal Freight in 2012), and private players such as GlobalTrans also entering the market.

2000s Edit

In 2003, RZD launched a project to replace the narrow gauge on Sakhalin Railway to the broad gauge used in the rest of Russia, which it formally completed in August 2019. [13] The share of privately owned wagons in the freight transport increased to one-third of the total by 2005. [10] On 18 May 2006, the company signed an agreement with Siemens for the delivery of eight high-speed trains. [14]

On 23 May 2007, Russian Railways adopted a new corporate style which changed fundamentally the way the Company presented itself visually to the outside world. The change of corporate identity underwent several stages during the 2007–2010 period. [15] The final version of the logo was designed by BBDO Branding. [16]

Also, commissioned by BBDO Branding The Agency HardCase Design created a family of corporate fonts RussianRail, consisting of 15 fonts. In the new company logo Sans-serif RussianRail Grotesque Medium was used. In 2008, the new logo of Russian Railways became a runner-up for the international design competition WOLDA '08 award. [17]

Strategy 2030, an investment plan to expand and modernize the railway network, was approved by the Russian government in 2008. [18] Since 2008, as part of the structural reform of rail transport, with separation of the services infrastructure of transportation activity and the emergence of a competitive environment, Russian Railways has been transformed into a vertically oriented holding company. [19]

In 2009, the investment budget was 262.8 billion rubles (excluding VAT), of which 47.4 billion for projects related to the preparation and staging of the Olympic Games in Sochi 58.7 billion for the renovation of the rolling stock (including supply of Sapsan trains). [ citation needed ]

2010s Edit

In 2010, Federal Passenger Company was established as a fully owned subsidiary of Russian Railways, providing long-distance passenger services both in Russia and abroad. [20] By the end of 2013 it operated all long-distance routes, except for high-speed Sapsan lines, which are operated by RZD. [20]

RZD issued its first dollar-denominated bond in 2010, raising $1.5 billion. [21] On 28 October 2011, the Joint Stock Company Freight One, a subsidiary of Russian Railways, sold 75% of its shares minus two shares for 125.5 billion rubles (about 4 billion $) to Independent Transport Company owned by Vladimir Lisin. [19] Thus, Lisin as Russia's largest operator of rolling stock acquired control of a quarter of the freight market. [22]

As part of its reform efforts, RZD massively reduced its workforce, from 2.2 million in the 1990s to 934,000 people in 2012. [20] In 2012 it became one of the three largest transport companies in the world. [23]

According to a Reuters inquiry, RZD procurement activities in 2012 amounted to $22.5 billion part of this was awarded to private contractors with no genuine operations in de facto noncompetitive tenders. [24] Some of the company addresses listed on the tenders turned out to be private apartments, car repair shops or department stores. [24] It was alleged that the contractors were actually shell companies, used to convey billions of dollars in tenders to close associates of Yakunin, president of RZD. [25]

Zheldoripoteka, RZD's real estate arm, was revealed to have sold land plots located close to railway stations in major cities to the son of Russian Railways president Vladimir Yakunin. [26] Far East Land Bridge, a company partnered with a Russian Railways subsidiary, was also linked to Yakunin's son. [27]

On 16 October 2012, Russian Railways has completed competitive negotiations with potential buyers of the remaining 25-percent plus 1 share stake in JSC Freight One. The best binding offer was received from the Independent Transport Company LLC. The assets were sold for 50 billion rubles. [28]

In early November 2012, Russian Railways announced the purchase of 75% of the French logistics company Gefco SA. The total value of the transaction was 800 million euros, the seller being PSA Peugeot Citroen, the parent company of Gefco. [29] A program to modernize the Baikal-Amur Magistrale was launched in 2013, costing the equivalent of £4 billion by 2018. [30]

In 2015, RZD International won a €1.2 billion contract to electrify the Garmsar–Inche Bourun line in Iran. [31]

In August 2015, company president Vladimir Yakunin was dismissed, [32] allegedly because of poor performance and mismanagement. [33] Yakunin was replaced by Oleg Belozyorov. [32]

RZD International began works on the reconstruction of the Serbian Vinarci – Djordjevo line in 2016. [34] The Moscow Central Circle railway, designed and managed by Roszheldorproject, an RZD subsidiary, opened in September 2016. [35] In July 2018, the company announced plans to phase out third-class carriages on long-distance trains by 2025. [36]

Planned projects Edit

In March 2016, RZD approved an updated version of high-speed rail development program until 2030. The 5 trillion ruble program includes the construction of Moscow–Kazan–Yekaterinburg, Moscow–Adler and Moscow–Saint Petersburg high-speed lines, as well as other high-speed lines connecting regional cities. [37]

The construction program is divided into three stages. Until 2020 Russian Railways plans to put into operation the high-speed rail sections linking Moscow–Kazan (1.2 trillion rubles), Moscow–Tula (268.6 billion rubles), Chelyabinsk–Yekaterinburg (122.6 billion rubles), Tula–Belgorod (86.8 billion rubles), Yekaterinburg–Nizhny Tagil (12.9 billion rubles) and Novosibirsk–Barnaul (62.3 billion rubles). The project design of the largest container port in Ust-Luga for reception and distribution of containerized freight on China–Europe route is also part of the program. [37]

Between 2021 and 2025 RZD plans to build Rostov–Krasnodar–Adler, Tula–Voronezh high-speed rail and the extension of Kazan-Yelabuga high-speed rail, as well as other regional high-speed rail links. [37]

During the 2026–2030 third phase of the program, Russian Railways will build Moscow–Saint Petersburg high-speed rail section the railway line will be extended from Yelabuga to Yekaterinburg, and from Voronezh to Rostov-on-Don. [37]

Proposed projects Edit

In March 2015, at a meeting of the Russian Academy of Science, Vladimir Yakunin presented an ambitious new transport route called the Trans-Eurasian Belt Development (TEPR) which would go "through Russia with a mega road and high-speed rail network to link Asia with Europe' and "with the opportunity to go to Chukotka and Bering Strait and then to the American continent" [38] to Alaska, "making overland trips from Britain to the US (via the Channel Tunnel) a possibility." [39]

The Russian Federation is the founder and sole shareholder of JSC Russian Railways. On behalf of its shareholders the powers are exercised by the Government of the Russian Federation. [40] It approves the president of the company, forms the board of directors annually and approves the annual reports. [41]

An IPO for the company was considered in 2012, [42] but it was pushed back to after 2020. [43]

The Chairman of the Board of Directors of JSC Russian Railways is Oleg Belozerov. [44] Before him, the position was occupied by Kirill Androsov from September 2011 till June 2015., [45] and previously by Alexander Zhukov – from 20 July 2004 to September 2011 and Viktor Khristenko – from 16 October 2003 – 20 July 2004.

Gennady Fadeev was President of JSC Russian Railways from 23 September 2003 – 14 June 2005. He was succeeded by Vladimir Yakunin – from 14 June 2005 to 20 August 2015. Oleg Belozyorov has been president of the company since 20 August 2015. [1]

Subsidiaries Edit

As of December 2013, Russian Railways has controlling interests in the following companies: [20]

  • Federal Passenger Company (100%)
  • Gefco S.A. (75%) (100%) (50.6%)
  • Refservice (100%)
  • RailTransAuto (51%)
  • High-speed Rail Lines (100%)
  • RZDstroy (100%) (55.56%)
  • RZD Trading Company (50% + 1)
  • TransTeleCom (100%)
  • Zhilsotsipoteka (100%)
  • Zheldoripoteka (100%)
  • TransWoodService (100%)
  • BetElTrans (100%)
  • First Nonmetallic Company (100%)
  • Zeleznodorozhnaya Torgovaya Kompaniya (100%)
  • Wagon Repair Company – 1 (100%)
  • Wagon Repair Company – 2 (100%)
  • Wagon Repair Company – 3 (100%)
  • Kaluga Plant Remputmash (100%)
  • Incorporated Electrotechnical Plants (50 + 1).

The main activities of Russian Railways involve freight and passenger traffic. In Russia, railways carry 42% of the total cargo traffic, and about 33% of passenger traffic. [23] Some passenger categories, such as pensioners, members of parliament, and holders of Soviet and Russian state decorations, receive free or subsidized tickets. [ citation needed ]

Freight traffic Edit

In 2013 railways carried nearly 90% of Russia's freight, excluding pipelines. [46] [47] In 2014, railway infrastructure and locomotive services accounted for 74% of the company's total revenue. [48]

The cost of freight tariff is determined by the Federal Tariff Service at net cost or higher. [ citation needed ]

Long-distance travel Edit

Russian Railways has a near-monopoly on long-distance train travel, with its subsidiary, Federal Passenger Company, accounting for 90% of total passenger turnover in 2017. [49] Passenger transportation accounted for 10.6% of the company's revenue in 2017. [50] The long-distance passenger fleet includes 19,386 rail cars as of 2017, with an average age of 19.1 years. [51] Over 60% of long-distance passengers travel in third-class sleeping carriages. [51]

The long-distance rail passenger business is under increasing competition from airlines, due to their aggressive domestic pricing policies and generally shorter travel times for routes under 1,000 km. [52] International rail passenger traffic dropped from 19.4 million passengers in 2013 to 6.8 million in 2017. [52]

In 2005–2010, JSC Russian Railways has launched a program to introduce new high-speed trains. [53] The first train, Sapsan, commenced service in December 2009 and connects Saint Petersburg, Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod and is operated with trains manufactured by the German company Siemens. [54]

The second train, Allegro, has run from Saint Petersburg to Helsinki via Vyborg since December 2010 and is owned and operated together with the Finnish VR Group.

Sapsan was the most successful passenger train of JSC Russian Railways with occupancy rate of 84.5% (according to RZD in 2010) and profitability of 30% (although capital costs were not included in its calculation). [55]

Fares on long distance trains Edit

Passenger tariffs (except for travelling in the stateroom, sleeping and VIP-cars) are approved by the State, represented by the Federal Tariff Service with social orientation of its traffic operations below cost. Passenger fare is divided into two components: «ticket» (which includes the cost of transport infrastructure, locomotive traction and the Station component) and «reserved seat» (service of transport company, which is the owner of the car). Since 2003, the flexible schedule tariffs (FST) to travel on long-distance trains is used:

  • in the period of keen demand the rate is above the annual average by 5–20% (earlier it was up to +45%)
  • approximately the third part of the year the base rate is active
  • during the periods of low passenger's traffic the rate is lower by 5–20%. On certain days of the year (from 1 to 3 days, at different times on such days as 31.12, 01.01 and dates around 9 May) the index of 45–50% is valid when tickets are twice cheaper.

FST is calculated in such a way as to stimulate passengers to undertake a trip on the date with the lowest index. In 2010 and 2011, the average weighted index for calendar periods was 0.97 and the average volume of passenger traffic – 1.00. According to the JSC Russian Railways statement, the passenger transportation – except for some highly profitable directions – is unprofitable. These losses are partly compensated from the budget, and for the most part – with the help of cross-subsidies by income from freight.

Suburban passenger companies Edit

Since 2009, the company is not a direct carrier of suburban passengers. Suburban transport is now operated by passenger companies founded by the executive agencies of the Russian Federation, Russian Railways and private investors. [56] As of 2016, there are 25 suburban passenger companies (SPC), and Russian Railways owns a majority stake in 19 of them. [57]

Especially for the SPC a zero tariff for the use of railway infrastructure was introduced. Russian Railways receives 25 billion rubles subsidies as compensation annually from the State. [58] Commuter traffic in the whole network increased in 2011 on 5.6% and is about 878.33 million people. [56] Passenger turnover rail in the Russian regions ranges from 5% to 30% in total passenger traffic. [58]

Sponsorship Edit

Since February 2016 Russian Railways is the sponsor of Rodina Kirov, a bandy team in the Russian Bandy Super League. [59]

Infrastructure Edit

  • 1,520 mm ( 4 ft 11 + 27 ⁄ 32 in )
  • 1,435 mm (
  • 4 ft 8 + 1 ⁄ 2 in ) (from Kaliningrad to Russian-Polish border)

The length of lines equipped with automatic block (AB) and centralized control, is 62,055 km, or 72.9%. Devices of railway automation and remote control on the Russian railway network served with 203 distance signaling, centralization and blocking and with one technical center of automation and remote control.

The following Railways belong to RZD: [60]

    – 8,800 km (managed from Moscow) – 10,378 km (managed from Saint Petersburg) – 3,876 km (managed from Irkutsk) – 6,311 km (managed from Rostov-on-Don) – 5,991 km (managed from Khabarovsk) – 3,336 km (managed from Chita) – 4,237 km (managed from Saratov) – 5,297 km (managed from Nizhny Novgorod) – 5,558 km (managed from Novosibirsk) – 963 km (managed from Kaliningrad) – 3,158 km (managed from Krasnoyarsk) – 4,752 km (managed from Samara) – 7,154 km (managed from Yekaterinburg) – 5,961 km (managed from Yaroslavl) – 4,189 km (managed from Voronezh) – 4,807 km (managed from Chelyabinsk)

RZD also manages a 50% share in Ulaanbaatar Railways on behalf of the Russian government. [63]

Rolling stock Edit

The main producer of passenger cars (95%) is Tver Carriage Works. [ citation needed ]

At the end of 2012, the rolling stock inventory included 20,618 locomotives, including 2,543 electric passenger locomotives, 578 diesel passenger locomotives, 7,837 electric freight locomotives, 3,556 diesel freight locomotives, 6,104 shunting locomotives. [64]

In 2017 RZD purchased 459 locomotives, including four EP1M, 13 EP2K, 19 TEP70BS and four EP20 passenger units, as well as 84 2ES6, 10 2ES10, 51 2ES5K, 45 3ES5K, four 3ES4K, 86 2TE25KM, and five 4ES5K freight units. [65]

In 2013, the RZD holding owned 252,900 freight cars, including 54,200 owned directly by Russian Railways, with the rest owned by company subsidiaries and affiliates, such as Federal Freight and TransContainer. [66]

Annually JSC Russian Railways carries over 1 billion passengers and 1 billion tons of freight.

In 2011, freight traffic of Russian Railways totaled about 1.4 billion tons. Passenger traffic for the year 2011 reached 992.4 million people. [23]

Financial performance indicators under IFRS Russian Railways in 2005–2010
Indicators 2005 2006 [67] 2007 [68] 2008 [69] 2009 [70] 2010 [71]
Income 749 bln rb. 877.9 bln rb. 1.016 trl rb. 1.203 trl rb. 1.126 trl rb. 1.334 trl rb.
Operating cost 684.7 bln rb. 821.5 bln rb. 1.089 trl rb. 1.013 bln rb. 1.135 bln rb.
Operating income 194.7 bln rb. 194.6 bln rb. 113.9 bln rb. 113.3 bln rb. 198.9 bln rb.
EBITDA 267.5 bln rb.
Net income 114 bln rb. 139.8 bln rb. 144.9 bln rb. 76.4 bln rb. 121.3 bln rb. 208.3 bln rb.

The average salary on the network in October 2011 – 31 thousand rubles a month. [72] Loading volume for the year 2012 amounted to 1 billion 274.7 million tons (+2.7% compared to 2011), the share in the total turnover of the country (except pipelines) — 85.5%. In 2012, the network carried 1 bln 56.7 million passengers (+6.4% compared to 2011). Net income from the basic activities using Russian GAAP was in 2012 almost 5.3 billion rubles, which is a decrease compared to 2011 (13.7 billion rubles) of almost 3 times. [73]

In total, Russian Railways receives 112 billion roubles (around US$1.5 billion) annually from the government. [74]

Review: Welsh Highland Railways

With the rapid development of the slate industry in North Wales, a series of narrow gauge railways were built to carry slate from the quarries to sailing ships for transport around the world.

The C19th saw the rapid growth of standard gauge railways in North Wales. Following the success of the Ffestiniog Railway (FR), Charles Spooner conceived the idea of a series of narrow gauge branch lines, known as the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways (NWNGR) to serve smaller settlements and quarries in North Wales. In 1881, a narrow gauge railway was opened from Dinas Junction on the Caernarfon to Pwhelli line to Rhyd Ddu at the foot of Snowdon, with a short branch line to the Bryngwyn slate quarries. At the time this was the closest railway to Snowdon, so it was heavily promoted as a tourist ride.

In 1901, another narrow gauge railway, the Portmadoc, Beddgelert & South Snowdon Railway (PBSSR) was proposed to take over the route of the Croesor Tramway from Porthmadog to Beddgelert and then to a newly constructed hydro electric station in Nant Gwynant. This also served the South Snowdon slate quarry. Construction started in the Aberglaslyn Pass in 1905 with plans to build as far as Beddgelert and South Snowdon. Money ran out and construction came to an end leaving the Aberglaslyn tunnels and other abandoned earthworks. The Croesor tramway continued to bring slate down from the Croesor valley.

In 1914 local authorities promoted a light railway order to take over the NWNGR and PBSSR and complete a link between the two. Now known as the Welsh Highland Railway (WHR), the completed line opened in 1923. There was never enough traffic to justify the railway and despite marketing attempts to promote it as a circular tour, it never made a profit and was unable to pay off its loans. By 1924 passenger traffic just ran for a few months in the summer and good traffic on demand. The slate industry was in decline and tourists preferred the convenience of the motor bus.

After a relatively good season in 1933, the Ffestiniog Railway put forward a plan to run both railways and signed a 42 year lease on the WHR. Traffic decreased even further and the last passenger train ran in September 1937. All traffic was suspended from June 1937.

During the Second World war. much of the railway’s equipment was requisitioned for the war effort.

Following the success of restoring the Ffestiniog Railway from 1954, the Welsh Highland Light Railway (1964) Co Ltd was set up from a base at Gelert’s Farm and ran along a short stretch of track alongside the Cambrian Coast Main Line, known as Beddgelert Siding. They had ambitious plans to rebuild the railway, which came to nothing as they were unable to gain access to the old trackbed which was in the hands of the Official Receiver.

In 1989 the FR made a bid to acquire the WHR trackbed from the Official Receiver, with plans to rebuild the WHR from Caernarfon to Porthmadog. Following several years of heated argument between the FR and 1964 Company, a High Court hearing, three public inquiries, an appeal, the Secretary of State granted the FR permission to rebuild the WHR.

Work began in 1997 from Caernarfon. The 1964 Company reached an agreement with the FR to rebuild the railway to Pont Croesor and to operate trains on this section, until it was required for completing the route to Harbour Station. They began work but it was hampered by the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 and work came to a stop. The 1964 Company is now rebranded as the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway and runs from its station near Network Rail’s Porthmadog Station along 1 mile of track to Pen y Mount where it connects to the WHR.

The WHR eventually reached Porthmadog Harbour station in 2011.

Over the years we have travelled different sections of the line but never done it in full.

It was time to remedy that and I booked a return ticket for the full line. This isn’t cheap at £41.50 for the round trip but if you have a child under 16, they get free travel with one fare paying adult.

In October there were just two trains running. I caught the train from Porthmadog which gave me just over an hour in Caernarfon before returning to Porthmadog. The line is 25 miles long and is the longest preserved steam railway in Britain. The trip takes around two and a quarter hours one way.

It was a beautiful morning so I decided to be brave and sit in the open coach at the end of the train. While this has a roof, there is no glass in the windows, making it great for taking pictures. It also means there is no shelter from the elements and seats are wooden benches. On a warm sunny day it is great fun. It was sunny in Porthmadog and at Caernarfon, but as we ran through the mountains of Snowdonia, the cloud was down on the tops and it was decidedly ‘atmospheric’.

The coach was at the back of the train so gave good views of the train as the line snaked round curves. However on the return trip I was a wimp and sat in a ‘normal’ coach.

I came back with dozens of pictures, which form a series of reviews describing the different sections of the trip.

The prevalence of Parkinson's disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Parkinson's Disease (PD) is a common neurodegenerative disorder. We sought to synthesize studies on the prevalence of PD to obtain an overall view of how the prevalence of this disease varies by age, by sex, and by geographic location. We searched MEDLINE and EMBASE for epidemiological studies of PD from 1985 to 2010. Data were analyzed by age group, geographic location, and sex. Geographic location was stratified by the following groups: 1) Asia, 2) Africa, 3) South America, and 4) Europe/North America/Australia. Meta-regression was used to determine whether a significant difference was present between groups. Forty-seven studies were included in the analysis. Meta-analysis of the worldwide data showed a rising prevalence of PD with age (all per 100,000): 41 in 40 to 49 years 107 in 50 to 59 years 173 in 55 to 64 years 428 in 60 to 69 years 425 in 65 to 74 years 1087 in 70 to 79 years and 1903 in older than age 80. A significant difference was seen in prevalence by geographic location only for individuals 70 to 79 years old, with a prevalence of 1,601 in individuals from North America, Europe, and Australia, compared with 646 in individuals from Asia (P < 0.05). A significant difference in prevalence by sex was found only for individuals 50 to 59 years old, with a prevalence of 41 in females and 134 in males (P < 0.05). PD prevalence increases steadily with age. Some differences in prevalence by geographic location and sex can be detected.

Keywords: Parkinson's disease/Parkinsonism prevalence studies risk factors in epidemiology.

The Railways: Nation, Network and People by Simon Bradley review – first-class

T he Water of Ayr, near Mauchline, is rarely rated a major tourist magnet. Ayrshire is scarcely peppered with beauty spots, after all. Yet the river has a remarkable claim to fame: at Mauchline, it is spanned by the Ballochmyle bridge, the nation’s highest rail viaduct.

Ballochmyle’s vast stone arch soars 175 feet over the Water of Ayr and has provided support for hundreds of thousands of trains that have thundered between Carlisle and Glasgow over the past 160 years. It is a striking, elegant edifice, whose construction – from 1846 to 1848 – involved considerable ingenuity by workers led by engineer John Miller, though the result of their endeavours is hardly ever visited today or mentioned in tourist guides.

And that is a shame, for the bridge perfectly demonstrates the invention and skill that went into making our railways. At the same time, it neatly exemplifies the way we now take that handiwork for granted, as Bradley also makes clear in this superbly crafted, lovingly assembled tribute to our railways. The advent of trains utterly transformed our nation but we no longer seem interested in how fundamental that change was.

The railways revolutionised our manufacturing industries and leisure activity – even our diet, which became more varied and regionally less distinctive. They spawned the first chain stores, in the form of WH Smith created a standard, universal time for Britain (every town had their own version of “British time” before timetables appeared) and introduced mass advertising to the country.

Other changes were more subtle. Rail lines, which bisected woods and fields, created corridors through which the seeds of plants such as rosebay willowherb, Oxford ragwort and buddleia drifted, allowing them to take root in gardens and parks across the nation, says Bradley. And by linking Highland towns such as Dufftown, on the Spey, to markets in the south, it turned whisky distilling into a major industry. “The single malts of Glenfiddich and Balvenie are drinks of the railway age,” Bradley tells us.

In addition, they gave us many glorious pieces of architecture and engineering: St Pancras station, the Forth bridge, the West Highland line – and, of course, the Ballochmyle viaduct. These are the survivors. Many others – the original Euston station, a host of branch lines and the dining car – have since disappeared. Some were victims of their own obsolescence. Others were hastened to an early demise by politicians who have, in general , treated our railways with considerable brutality. Two landmarks of desecration stand out. First, the 1963 Beeching report instigated the widespread, monstrously overenthusiastic destruction of rail lines across the country – only to be followed, 30 years later, by an act of even greater vandalism: the privatisation of the railways by the Conservatives. This fragmented the integrated system run by British Rail into more than 100 different components. “Cooperative relationships were thus replaced – deliberately and knowingly – by adversarial ones,” states Bradley.

The result? “Our railways are crowded and expensive compared with French, Dutch and Swiss railways, our fares are 30% higher, our running costs 40% higher and our public subsidy is double.” It is a stark assessment made all the bleaker when you realise these are the words of David Cameron, speaking in 2012.

It is a sad tale, though the current, tattered state of our railways should in no way detract from Bradley’s narrative. This is a first-class, entertaining analysis of a great, albeit troubled, institution that has now been given a history worthy of its national significance.

Speeches, letters and industry presentations

Find out more about how we work, and what we do

  • You can visit our regulatory and licensing section for more details about how we’re performing, as well as the licences and regulations under which we operate.
  • Our financial section contains information about our financial performance, regulatory accounts and incentive plans.
  • Visit our About Us section to find out more about how we're organised.

There’s a lot more to discover – if there’s something else you’d like to know, you can always get in touch .

The Williams Review

The Williams Rail Review was established in September 2018 to look at the structure of the whole rail industry and the way passenger rail services are delivered.

It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve outcomes for passengers, freight users and taxpayers.

In the document above, you can read our response to the review’s March 2019 evidence papers.

You can also read more about the Williams Review at the GOV.UK website.

Control Period 5: strategic documents

This list comprises a number of regulatory publications produced throughout CP5.

Further resources and reading

There's lots more information available. If you'd like to know more about what we're planning on the railway near you, take a look at our route pages, where you'll find route utilisation strategies and specifications which show how we're planning improvements at a local level.

If you want to know how we work to predict and plan for future demands on the railway network, then our long term planning process page has all the information you're looking for whilst if it's a flavour of the major schemes of work that we're delivering across Britain, then take a look at some of our key projects.



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