On the Slow Train Again, By Michael Williams


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Though Dr Beeching is the villain of this book, he performed a valuable editing job for Williams. The 12 surviving British branch lines he describes are of scintillating interest.

Williams is an ardent train buff ("trainspotters hate inaccuracy with a vehemence only exceeded by their loathing of Jeremy Clarkson"), and a first-class journalist with a keen eye and gift for info-packed prose.

On the 14.46 from Norwich to Cromer, we not only learn that it consists of a "Class 156 two-carriage diesel [with] noisy underfloor engines" but also why Cromer crabs are so tasty ("We catch 'em small") and that Conan Doyle was inspired by a local canine ghost. It should be the Hound of West Runton. Highly recommended, even for motorists.