What’s behind the Romance of a Rail Journey?

Recently found in a copy of ‘Metro-Gram’,  we reproduce a short lived  publicity sheet handed out to passengers on a rail journey by the Metropolitan Railway in London.

It was another age in 1922, but the sentiment rings true today for any rail journey in our modern times;

“We of today take our transport facilities as a matter of course, and are resentful if trains, many and swift, are not always ready to convey us whither we would go. Our journey completed interest ceases, and the wonders of the mechanism and organization that brought that train service into being concern us not.

Behind it all, however, there is high romance, and he would be woefully lacking in imagination, who, given a peep behind the scenes, failed to thrill to the magic of machinery, to the marvels of electricity in harness, to the ceaseless business of repair, improvement and acquisition.

There is beauty of perfect efficiency in repair-shop and turbo-room, mystery in the glow of furnaces, ordered wealth in the store shops, and a sense of power over all”

Maybe we live in too sophisticated an era and have lost some awareness of all that goes into making a rail journey possible.

Imagine the railway line surveyor who beat a continuous path through inhospitable, alien country, climbing every tall hill to determine an easy path to enable his paymaster’s iron-horse to travel at the most minimum cost.

Think of the gang’s of itinerant navvies, living day after day in makeshift gypsy camps, braving hostile elements and holding only a pick or shovel in which to cut gradients or dark and dangerous tunnels.  Everyday they would risk their lives to enable strange machines of a like they had never seen beat a noisy and nonchalant speed across steel roads that barely tell the tale of the toil that created them.

Visualise the labourer in the dank, hot, dirty and notoriously dangerous foundry pouring liquid metal into moulds creating parts for engines that he will never see complete, that will form trains which will speed through the countryside amongst scenery that he will never know.  With his 10 hour back-breaking shift complete, the foundry-man will slowly make his way home, resting easy for a few more short waking hours before repeating his daily cycle for the rest of his working life.

Rail travel is infinitely enjoyable, certainly romantic, and we’re sure that when travelling to one of our incredible worldwide destinations with LOCO Journeys you will have a terrific time.  But as you gently lapse into the relaxing and agreeable monotony of listening to train wheels taking you ever closer to your destination, and whilst you gaze out and soak up the unlimited landscapes that sail past, just take a moment to acknowledge those that made your rail journey possible.


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