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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Exploring A Longtime Love Of Railway Maps

British author Mark Ovenden has had a fascination with railways since he was a child.

Growing up in the 60s, he and his dad used to explore abandoned railway stations and old trains. He also collected maps of the various railways.

Last year he published a collection of some of his favorites in the book “Great Railway Maps of the World.” As he tells Monica Brady-Myerov, railway maps are a window into the development of a country.

This segment first broadcast in 2011.


  • Mark Ovenden, author of “Great Railway Maps of the World”

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  • Gula

    An interesting topic as in my 45+ years of travels, I have travelled on many railways in well over 30 countries.
    The BAM( Baikal-Amur Mainline) in Russia was a trip I took in 1986. Very open spaces yet scenic. Then there is the Chihuahua to Los Mochis run through the Copper Canyon of the Sierra Madre north central Mexico in 1990. Very scenic
    The daily train(International Express) from Bangkok to Butterworth in northwest Malaysia I have used well over a dozen times heading down to Singapore.
    The railway system of Java in Indonesia is OK and beats the buses much of the time. 

    What was not mentioned in this story were the Indian Railways. Spending well over 32 months in India between 1986 and 1992 on 7 different trips to work, they are the most entertaining railways on earth.
    They tend to be overcrowded and have a circus like atmosphere, especially at rail stops along the route. I preferred 2nd class to experience this. 
    By far, even after over 80 rail trips in India to all corners of the country, through the crowds, chaos, etc., they are the best. The local food is great too.

    From reading a bio on Mr. Overden, it doesn’t seem that the fellow has been outside of England much.
    I could probably have done a book on railways, but I’m busy in the field of tropical medicine.
    My first exposure to the railways of the world was Paul Theroux’s  The Great Railway Bazaar from 1975.

    The trains of Japan, North and South America, including Canada and Europe I also have used in the past moving from point to point.
    However I viewed Mr. Overden’s slide show here and found many items of interest. Thanks.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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