New Year Train Article Watch

When I established this blog, I wasn’t sure what it would become: a place to post photographs, post essays on computing or perhaps, more prosaically, unused, unread, and gradually extinct. Beyond one relatively popular article on Lotus Notes and a few rants about Apple Macs, the computing angle never really took hold. I didn’t mind: much more successfully, the blog has served as a platform for my better photographs and, since they’re mostly taken when abroad, it has drawn the blog towards becoming my own personal travelog. I am very happy about this: it has allowed some friends disinterestedly chart my progress around the globe and, perhaps more usefully, highlighted one or two interesting sights to future travellers.

The third intended pillar of this blog along with computing and photography was a topic related to travel, that of transport and, specifically, trains. I’ve been moderately successful with regard to this topic but the few train-related articles were only spurred by trips to Switzerland and Japan and have not enabled this blog to become the train-related blog of minor interest I had hoped for. In lieu of a substantial article of my own (coming any day now), I’ll discuss and link to several enlightening articles I’ve recently encountered:

  1. February’s edition of Monocle focuses on existing and planned train projects in Germany, Turkey and Japan. An opening article glosses over the (obvious) environmental benefits in favour of the lesser-discussed political and economic benefits of train travel. International lines are emphasised here, citing the Channel Tunnel as a success and hailing proposed lines almost everywhere from Helsinki-St. Petersburg, Algeria-Morocco and even between North and South Korea as encouraging signs for the future of the world (and not just trainspotters). Further indepth articles cover the rejuvenation of the German sleeper services and a journey between Istanbul and Tehran on the TransAsya Express.  Perhaps less useful but still entertaining are two more photoessays on staying fashionable on the German ICE from Koln to Leipzig and on Japan’s shinkansen from Tokyo to Fukuoka. Some of the articles linked to here are sadly subscription-only but, at time of writing, the print edition remains available in shops.
  2. Saturday’s Guardian contained an article about Spanish trains. “Train in Spain sets out to beat the plane” discusses the Spanish Ave, a huge success in recent years and which is set to link Madrid and Barcelona later this month. Within a couple of years it hopes to link Madrid with Paris with a journey time of just four and a half hours and, domestically, the Spanish government plans 10,000km of high-speed track by 2020, with a high-speed line no more than 30km distance from 90% of the population. The gulf between Spanish and British attitudes to and plans for train travel is not left unexplored.

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