The Next Station Stop (Fifty Years by Train)
By Peter Caton.
Item code: NSS.
The following is a review of the book from the December 2013 issue of Railwatch.
In his new book, Peter Caton takes us on a 10,000 mile tour of Britain, repeating his childhood journeys and looking at what has changed in 50 years of rail travel.
He goes to remote parts of the country and writes with affection about lines such as the Heart of Wales, Settle-Carlisle, Far North and Cambrian Coast. But after sampling some intercity routes, he questions if the pursuit of speed and efficiency has taken away some of the enjoyment of travelling by train.
The author enjoyed his journeys on our sleeper trains and encourages readers to try them. He recalls 1970s Merrymaker excursions and retraces a mystery trip from London St Pancras. His journeys end with a trip through the Alps to Italy, comparing European train travel with British railways. Research into old timetables shows a surprising number of routes are now slower than 20 years ago, but frequencies increased.
He writes in glowing terms of lunch in a First Great Western restaurant but laments the loss of virtually all our dining cars. The inevitable difficulties of ticketing, missed connections and lack of information are aired, along with his frustrations with health and safety and public address announcements.
This is very much a pro-rail book, even if sometimes things "were better" a generation ago. The Next Station Stop provides insight into social changes over the 50 years of the author's travels and describes his exploration of some of the most beautiful parts of our country. It includes interesting stories and snippets of railway history. Sixty colour photographs taken over the past 50 years illustrate how our railways have changed.
A committed environmentalist, Peter Caton is the son of Railfuture's vice president Michael Caton. Peter has used public transport when travelling for his previous books, which cover the diverse themes of tidal islands, walking and football terraces.