Michael Williams

Michael Williams is author of ‘On the Slow Train’. His newest book, ‘The Trains That Passed’, will be published by Preface in spring 2015

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Rush Hour by Iain Gately, book review: No wonder commuters go off the rails

Today's travellers are packed in like livestock but Edwardians got breakfast on the Tube
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund

Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Williams married into a Jewish family and is bringing up his young children in his wife's faith

A train passes Battersea power station en route to London Victoria. Unlike on the Continent, only 58 per cent of UK railway running costs come from fares

Steamed up over rising train fares? Don't be, because the networks need the money

In this provocative essay, one railway enthusiast explains why our network is better – and better value – than ever

Track and field: The Eastern and Oriental Express makes its way towards Laos

Laos: Slow train to the land that time forgot

For now, there's only one international rail route into the seductively secluded nation. Michael Williams steps aboard the luxurious Eastern and Oriental Express

The future of the High Speed Rail 2 project looks in doubt as Labour prepare to stop backing it, and the Tory rebellion against it gathers momentum

The saving of HS2? Ed Balls is on the right track with plan to adapt route of Great Central Railway

Who says you can’t re-open a closed main line?

Victims: Parents grieve for their child, gassed in Ghouta

Michael Williams: Painful lessons – and Assad is still there

The Kerry-Lavrov accord is welcome. Now our leaders must make up for a series of blunders and tactical errors, and make diplomacy work

Tito's train

The return of Tito’s train: From Serbia to Montenegro - a track to the past

President Josip Broz Tito's Blue Train, scene of the dictator’s famed parties with world leaders, is back in service as a tourist attraction

The town of Qusayr is taken by Assad loyalists last week

Diplomacy: The art of reconciling foes

Iran, as Syria's most powerful ally, must be part of the Geneva peace talks if they are to succeed, despite French and US opposition

Railways are making a comeback

Rail reminders: Britain hits the buffers – then bounces back

Fifty years ago, Richard Beeching's damning report saw the railways diminished by a third. Now, they're making a return, says Michael Williams

Inside the Mezquita, Cordoba

On track for Andalucia's great cities: get there fast, then go slow

Michael Williams revels in the southern Spanish urban trio of Seville, Cordoba and Granada – and the glories of making high-speed connections

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Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own