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208 × 156 × 18 mm
288 pages
114 illustrations, 57 in colour
01 Nov 2011
  • £20.00

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Railway George Revill

Since the 19th century the railway has been a widely acknowledged symbol of progress and confidence in technological modernity. In the 21st century the looming prospect of traffic gridlock and human-induced climate change has once again transformed the railway into a emblem of hope that provides the possibility of an environmentally sustainable future. Ambitious cities invest in rail transit, while consumer groups chart every failing in public transport as a marker of government incompetence. The railway even informs our everyday language: we ‘fast-track,’ ‘side-track’ and ‘go off the rails.’ The cultural meanings of the railway continue to play a role in how people organize and respond to modern environments, social problems and technologies. This book charts some of the defining contours of this terrain and shows us why we have an ongoing fascination for the railway.

This book traces the relationships between technology and nation building in railway history, as well as themes such as mobility and identity, design and marketing, and ecology, heritage and sustainability. Examples from art, literature, music and film show how the railway is embedded in a range of cultural forms. From the routine journeys of the commuter to the fascinations of the enthusiast, the railway is central to our understanding of modern everyday life.

A wide-ranging and well-illustrated account of railway systems around the world and their meanings for all of us, Railway will inform and delight historians as well as trainspotters everywhere.

‘Revills exploration of the art of the train is impressive in scope . . . [his] wide-ranging account is freighted with interest and reaches an optimistic, balanced conclusion.’ — The Independent

‘This is a well-written, broad survey of the effects that railroads, and the public perception of them, have had on many aspects of society and culture, from travel to urban/surburban expansion to nation building . . . an interesting read for railroad enthusiasts. Recommended.’ — Choice

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George Revill is Senior Lecturer in Geography at the Open University, UK. He is also the co-editor of Pathologies of Travel (1999), Landscapes of Defence (2000) and Representing the Environment (2004).


1. Nature, Culture and the Train Landscape
2. The Machine Ensemble and the Nation-state
3. Journeys, Stories and Everyday Lives
4. Moving Objects: Stations, Locomotives and the Arts of Commerce
5. Entrainment: Tracks to a Railway Ecology

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Photo Acknowledgements