Sunrise on the Southbound Sleeper: The New Telegraph Book of Great Railway Journeys

Updated: 10 May 2012

Time Out says

Rating: 4/5, RM132.80

Rain lashing the windows, faces buried in other people’s armpits, battling elbows and e-readers – the realities of the daily commute are gruelling but certainly offset by reading the epic rail journeys of others, from journalist Andrew Gilligan’s escape from Fukushima’s radiation on the bullet train to Nicholas Shakespeare retracing his aunt’s wartime experiences in France to the personal pilgrimage of Time Out London’s very own travel and books editor, Chris Moss, as he rumbles towards Patagonia.

‘Sunrise...’ is an exceptionally wellchosen collection, including extracts from books, random reflections from the Letters pages of the Telegraph and 20 specially commissioned pieces. The book itself amounts to a pleasurable journey, Kerr maintaining an ebb and flow across the continents should you choose to read from start to finish. But each odyssey also stands alone, allowing the reader to dip in and out at will.

Punctuated by pithy, profound and occasionally puzzling anecdotal nuggets, each main contribution captures a particular state of mind with little crossover in the collection – one entry might be humourous, the next culturally or politically inflected. The take-home message is that train journeys are often vivid and define experiences in a way other modes of transport can’t hope to match. Even ‘Top Gear’s James May finds it within himself to confess, grudgingly, ‘No, cars aren’t necessarily better than trains.’ Sharper minds teach us that it’s the journey that counts, and this anthology reminds us that the future of train travel needn’t – and shouldn’t – be all about highspeed tilting trains and long distance commutes. Shalinee Singh

Tags: Books