After reading a bunch of train books that my brother owned I started to realise that they pretty much all say the same thing. Well, not all the same things because some of them focus more on one area than on others, but they all tend to look at how trains were first developed, and then how they work, and then some of the record breakers that are around. The other problem is that these books were written quite some time ago, namely when we were kids, so a lot of the things in the book are out dated. Okay, not the history and details of the steam trains, but rather the more modern aspects of rail transport and the records that have been broken.
However, as I mentioned, they still make mention of things that haven’t changed. For instance the longest railway in the world is still the trans-Siberian railway (and I’m not entirely sure if it is actually possible to beat that record, unless you build one from Terra del Fuego to Alaska), and the longest, straightest railway is still the track that crosses the Nullabor Plain in Australia. The other thing worth mentioning is that in Australia most railways are still only used for freight, and in fact passenger rail has declined even further since this book was written, with the Overland between Adelaide and Melbourne only running twice a week.
The book itself was a rather fun read though, since it is structured as a series of questions and answers. The other thing is that it also has pretty pictures, and the kid in me still really enjoys non-Fiction books with pretty pictures. Okay, you get some books that have a collection of plates in the middle, but they aren’t anything like the pretty pictures that these children’s books have. Okay, maybe my ability to read the English language has increased substantially since I was a kid so I don’t actually need pretty pictures anymore, but on the other hand, I there is nothing stopping me from buying such books in French and German, though I suspect the way they teach French and German to adults is somewhat different to the way they teach communication skills to kids.
Anyway, here is a pretty picture of a steam train for your amusement:
The book was entertaining, and half the reason I read it was because I went on a ride on the steam train down at Victor Harbor, a seaside town near where I grew up. For those who are interested, here is a blog post on my travel blog on that little day trip, and another post on steam trains on my other blog. To round everything off, here is a link to a video of some rather extreme railways.