Along Main Lines

Published 12th November 2012

Author: Paul Atterbury

Publisher: David & Charles

Pages and dimensions: Hardback. 256 pages. 220mm X 285mm approx

Cover price: £25

Available from: David & Charles.

Review by Phil Marsh

Paul Atterbury is a well known broadcaster and author who has enjoyed railways all his life This latest book from him is described as an evocative celebration of the glory days of Britain’s railways and looks at the main lines and their feeder routes which formed the backbone of the once extensive network.

It is an eclectic book with a huge amount of subjects covered mainly using pictures with extended informative captions. Many potential readers will recognise locations, features or trains featured by the photographs or advertisements reproduced to illustrate the various subjects covered.

Much of the content is made up using railway memorabilia interlinked with photographs grouped by geographical areas plus a miscellaneous section. The latter itself looks at 15 subject areas such as streamlined trains, restaurant cars, timetables, luggage and ancillary activities such as motorail and rail-air services spanning 150 years of railway history.

The subject areas will prompt memories for all ages and probably provide new information for many as well. The railways have generally reflected society in so far as how rail travel could be undertaken and the selection of advertising supported by good use of pictures demonstrates this aspect well.

The author has divided the UK into 7 geographical areas and each area follows the same format of looking at the railways in that area in several sub sections. General train scenes, stations, famous locations, infrastructure such as notable tunnels and bridges, goods trains, sheds and Works are all explained for each area.

Whether the reader can decide which era reflected and was the glory time is another matter and be a subject for debate amongst rail enthusiasts. This book will provide much information for this debate. The effects of Beeching half a century ago are looked at in the final section of the book in the Lost Main Lines chapter. Many of the illustrations have not been seen before and these are used to good effect, especially for the more historic aspects of our railways.

This is a good book but the reviewer thinks that it perhaps tries to convey too much information and is therefore a little crammed for his taste. Nevertheless, will make a safe bet for a present this Christmas for anyone with an interest in our railways and how they developed and it contains a wealth of information covering all interests.

External Links


Have your say...

Please note: you have to be logged into the site before you can leave a comment

Liverpool street station in the UK at rush hour

Help and advice with train travel in the UK

Train travel in the UK should be a pleasure, not a headache. So if you’re taking a train on the UK railway, start your journey here. We’ve lots of hints, tips and advice to help you find your way around, travel smoothly and arrive in style by train.

Read more

eurostars passing at 375mph from the drivers seat in france


Welcome to our #railchat page. Our #railchat discussions take place over on Twitter, with our resident expert Phil Marsh. If you would like to get involved, please do join us, and use the dedicated hashtag #railchat. See our previous discussions below:

Read more

Old steam train in Shanty Town Museum

Locomotives & Engines

Our rail network would be nothing without them. From Stephenson's Rocket to British Rail Class 92 and beyond, explore the facts, information and anecdotes behind the steam, diesel and electric locomotives that built the age of the train.

Read more


Latest Tweets


Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh to London Kings Cross by Train

Book in advance with and save 85% advanced bookings.

From £21.00

Buy now

Millenium Dome, London

Birmingham New Street to London Euston by Train

Book in advance with and save 92% on advance bookings.

From £6

Buy now

You may also like...



Follow us on Twitter and become part of our rail community! is the easy way to buy cheap train tickets online.



Control your business fuel costs with a supermarket fuel card – free to apply, no ongoing account charges and no monthly minimum spend.