The railway transformed the way people lived. For journeys long or short, fast or slow, it was the great connector. It changed towns and cities and the way people travelled to work. It helped to create ‘suburbia’, and in doing so gave birth to a whole new way of life. Unfortunately, the railway declined when challenged by new methods of transport, and the car now dominates our towns and cities. But with entire communities blighted by gridlock and pollution, the railway is experiencing a revival. Progress is slow, however, as political decisions and technologies from earlier eras continue to shape the transport solutions of the future. This topic examines the emergence of suburban living, the effects on the railway of competition from road transport, and the inevitable congestion and gridlock that has occurred as we have abandoned – or been abandoned by – the railway.
Town planners created suburbs because people wanted to escape dirty and crowded cities. Railways also found they could make money from short journeys. Suburbia was advertised as pleasant and healthy, but it soon became a byword for uniformity and monotony. > more
There are several ways we can get to work. Buses and cars compete with the train. How have the railways met this challenge? By electrifying the suburban lines to offer faster and cleaner services. > more
Railways found it hard to compete with cars, and the rail network was cut back. The roads are now heavily congested, but the trains are also crowded. Has the dream of suburban living made the journey to work a nightmare? > more