Since the 19th century railways have been a widely acknowledged symbol of progress and confidence in technological modernity.
In the 21st century the looming prospect of traffic gridlock and human-induced climate change has once again transformed the railway into a symbol of hope providing a possibility of an environmentally sustainable future.
Ambitious cities invest in rail transit, while consumer groups chart every failing in public transport as a marker of government incompetence.
Railways even inform our everyday language: we 'fast-track', 'side-track' and 'go off the rails'.
In both practical and symbolic senses the cultural meanings of railways continue to play a role in how people organize and respond to modern environments, social problems and technologies.
This book charts some of the defining contours of this terrain and shows us why we have an ongoing fascination for railways.
Author George Revill examines the technological systems and nation building in railway history, as well as themes such as mobility and identity, design and marketing, and ecology, heritage and sustainability. He draws from art, literature, music and film, and focuses on how the railway carries meaning for all of us, and how it creates connections and separations, senses of loss, belonging, detachment and involvement, from the routine journeys of the commuter to the fascinations of the enthusiast.
Ultimately he sees railways as central to our understanding modern everyday life.
A wide-ranging and well-illustrated look at railways across the globe and its meanings for all of us, Railway will inform and delight railway enthusiasts everywhere.