Moving on from RAIL Magazine

Leaving any job can be difficult. When you’ve been working for a magazine such as RAIL for 16 years it is all the harder. Those 16 years have seen a vast range of highs and lows.
There’s been a boom in passenger numbers and a proliferation of freight companies shifting goods around the country. We’ve seen St Pancras station transformed and High Speed 1 opened. The West Coast Main Line has been modernised (well, most of it) and tilting trains now run in daily service.
But I can’t ignore the grim accidents that punctuated the early years. Southall, Ladbroke Grove and Hatfield were terrible to see, as were Heck and Ufton despite them not being the railway’s fault. Having seen the devastation at Heck up close the following day, this accident still brings a lump to my throat. I also saw the tyremarks on the M62 that showed how close the accident came to never happening.
There have been many highlights. The best of them saw me standing on top of the Forth Bridge. When I was studying mechanical engineering at Heriot Watt University I could see the bridge a few miles distant but I never imagined I would stand on its top. My visit coincided with some windy weather but the bridge just absorbs the wind’s energy. It was rock-solid – which is comforting when you’re so far up!
Other RAIL jobs have seen me under the Pennines in Standedge Tunnel. My trip took me through the disused bores but I could hear trains passing in the live tunnels and feel the air shifting as they passed through.
Then there’s the people I’ve met. Signallers, drivers, track staff, managers at all levels, and a few politicians and ministers. All influence today’s railway and it’s been a great privilege to be able to talk to them and quiz them on what they do and why they do it.
Now I’m switching to the world of a freelance railway writer. This blog forms part of that world. You’ll find news and views here – the news will be the railway’s and the views will be mine. There will be much to write about. Network Rail has a major electrification programme underway, Hitachi is about to build a new fleet of high-speed trains, money is being poured into daily improvements around Britain and there are tunnelling machines boring their way under London to form Crossrail.
High Speed 2 is coming. It will bring major change to Britain’s railway network in a way not seen since the network was built.
I should be busy

By Philip Haigh

Freelance railway writer, former deputy editor at RAIL magazine - news, views and analysis of today's railway.

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