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Yellow Trains

author: Andrew Royle (2019)
date read: 18 April 2020
rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

This is a book about the fleet of measuring and testing trains that are used across the British rail network. It’s an account of the author’s work on the trains, rather than a comprehensive technical guide.

The book assumes a fair amount of technical knowledge: terms like “DMU”, “line speed” and “possession” are thrown around without explanation, expecting the reader to know them already. It’s written by a train nerd for fellow train nerds. (A term used with affection, ofc.)

It’s imbued with character, and that’s what made me warm to it. On the same page, you might read about a special laser, an incident where it went wrong, and a white-knuckle taxi ride at the end of the day. The book is full of stories and personal anecdotes, which I find much easier to read than cold technical facts.

The photography is excellent, and includes lots of views that I don’t get as a passenger. Interesting stations, unusual (or no longer extant) backdrops, and a collection of trains that I don’t normally get to see.

The writing isn’t stellar, and I knocked a star off for that. The stories and photographs more than make up for it, and I’d definitely recommend it to another train nerd. I had fun reading it, and I’m sure I’ll re-read it again at some point.

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