RAIL magazine

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irish_rail

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Cards on the table, this is a rant.

After 20 years of buying Rail I really have had enough and have finally come to the descion it isnt worthy of 8 quid a month of my money.
It really saddens me to say this as I used to really enjoy it, and there are still one or two good bits (Wolmar, Barry Doe) , but on the whole it is just unbearably dull.

It reminds me now of the kind of industry publications that are free of charge and which one will only read as one is being paid to do so whilst at work. No real substance to it, just endless opinions of think tanks and steering groups, and dont get me started on the obbsession with HS2.

The same information is recycled week after week, it is very rare in these Internet connected times I learn anything new, other than which individual I have never heard of has been appointed to head up some engineering firm I have never heard of either.

There is a distinct lack of pictures of trains. Call me old fashioned but as a railway enthusiast (and professional) I expect to see the best in rail photography if im paying 4 quid a time for something freely available for nothing online. And why do the photos they do publish carry such a heavy east midlands bias, there is a whole other united kingdom out there, much of it more picturesque than the midland mainline between Leicester and Derby, or the ECML around Peterborough.

The current edition has a story about the Kirkby derailment, pretty major in railway terms, yet it gets a short article and unbelievably, not even a picture!!! This kind of thing is far more relevant to your average reader than hearing another HS2 story repeated yet again but in a slightly different way.

Another area where progress needs to be made is the letters page. Some of the nonsense written is hard to believe, why is Rail giving it the editorial time of day? Current issue has some drivel about how driverless trains are good because the letter writer on his few holidays abroad has never had an issue with one whereas the trains he uses on a daily basis at home occasionally have problems. Well durrrrr. And yet the letter goes unchallenged, pride of place in the top right hand corner of the page. RAIL really need to start vetting which letters they do and dont publish.

And finally, why oh why do the middle pages of the magazine always come loose and fall out!!??

Magazines in 2021 need to focus more on interesting opinions and debates , with a clear focus on INTERESTING news and decent, varied pictures. Focus more on traction and rolling stock (and no i dont mean heritage, there are enough publications that do that). Tell me something I dont already know!

I say all of the above with a very heavy heart . I have barely missed an issue this millennium but I cant justify buying another.
Would love to hear others opinions, especially anyone connected with the magazine. Rant over.
 
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RailUK Forums

ChiefPlanner

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Cards on the table, this is a rant.

After 20 years of buying Rail I really have had enough and have finally come to the descion it isnt worthy of 8 quid a month of my money.
It really saddens me to say this as I used to really enjoy it, and there are still one or two good bits (Wolmar, Barry Doe) , but on the whole it is just unbearably dull.

It reminds me now of the kind of industry publications that are free of charge and which one will only read as one is being paid to do so whilst at work. No real substance to it, just endless opinions of think tanks and steering groups, and dont get me started on the obbsession with HS2.

The same information is recycled week after week, it is very rare in these Internet connected times I learn anything new, other than which individual I have never heard of has been appointed to head up some engineering firm I have never heard of either.

There is a distinct lack of pictures of trains. Call me old fashioned but as a railway enthusiast (and professional) I expect to see the best in rail photography if im paying 4 quid a time for something freely available for nothing online. And why do the photos they do publish carry such a heavy east midlands bias, there is a whole other united kingdom out there, much of it more picturesque than the midland mainline between Leicester and Derby, or the ECML around Peterborough.

The current edition has a story about the Kirkby derailment, pretty major in railway terms, yet it gets a short article and unbelievably, not even a picture!!! This kind of thing is far more relevant to your average reader than hearing another HS2 story repeated yet again but in a slightly different way.

Another area where progress needs to be made is the letters page. Some of the nonsense written is hard to believe, why is Rail giving it the editorial time of day? Current issue has some drivel about how driverless trains are good because the letter writer on his few holidays abroad has never had an issue with one whereas the trains he uses on a daily basis at home occasionally have problems. Well durrrrr. And yet the letter goes unchallenged, pride of place in the top right hand corner of the page. RAIL really need to start vetting which letters they do and dont publish.

And finally, why oh why do the middle pages of the magazine always come loose and fall out!!??

Magazines in 2021 need to focus more on interesting opinions and debates , with a clear focus on INTERESTING news and decent, varied pictures. Focus more on traction and rolling stock (and no i dont mean heritage, there are enough publications that do that). Tell me something I dont already know!

I say all of the above with a very heavy heart . I have barely missed an issue this millennium but I cant justify buying another.
Would love to hear others opinions, especially anyone connected with the magazine. Rant over.

I made the decision to cancel it last year , again after many years - and judging by a flick through editions on the local newsagent shelves I have not missed much or anything.

As a lockdown project went through selectively past copies stacked in boxes and weeded out the relevant , interesting stuff on WCML etc , (and recycled the rest) and it was evident that the magazine seemed a lot more focused and maybe "relevant" then. It has to be Modern Railways now (which is really good of late and much more on the ball with regard to "real" issues and focus, Railway Magazine is not bad , especially on the preservation etc scene)

The letter page I suspect needs careful attention , but then that applies to most journals.
 

yorksrob

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I quite like Rail.

I particularly like the long articles on random bits of the network.
 

ainsworth74

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Yeah I've gone off of RAIL over the last few years. When I first started to get properly interested in railways in the 2009/10 period I would religiously read it but now it's been many years since I've bothered. I find that most of the time I can get the news from either the Forum itself, Twitter or Modern Railways. Equally if I want opinion/analysis then that in Modern Railways tends to be stronger and more interesting. Whilst I do miss Wolmar (I often disagree with him and think he's a bit of a blowhard, he does have interesting opinions and it's useful to hear from people you disagree with!) and Doe as well as the odd long form articles they do (particular on historical matters) it's not enough to tempt me back. Modern Railways and BLN (see below) is more than enough news, analysis and commentary for me. It's also, in my view, usually of a higher standard.

I also think Mr Harris does them no favours sometimes on Twitter at least (where he uses the RAIL account as his personal account as far as I can tell). I still recall the time he had a proper nasty go at Hull Trains for daring to not invite RAIL (or any other railway or national press) to an event featuring their new trains which was very clearly aimed at local people and the local press (I believe local primary school children were some of the main attendees!) rather than being a full open event to the wider industry/press. Which left a very sour taste as it almost started to feel like a bit of a "don't you know who we are?!" type rant.

For odds and ends of rail news, and some interesting pictures, you could try the Branch Line News https://www.branchline.uk/bln.php
There is a free sample issue at https://www.branchline.uk/general/docs/sample-e-BLN.pdf

Yes I joined the BLS a few years ago for railtour related purposes but at this point I'm quite happy to fork out my £12 annual membership fee just for 24 issues of BLN you get! It really is a very good little (well, not so little really they're often quite length!) publication with some nostalgia stuff and plenty of current events and quite a few pictures to from all over the place. I have no hesitation in suggesting people try it out and if nothing else it's a heck of a lot cheaper than RAIL!
 

bluenoxid

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I just can’t work out if they would benefit from dropping to a less frequent publication cycle. I guess that the risk is that they would lose sales as there is even less to split them out from the competition.
 

the sniper

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I gave up about five years ago. Just became too clear that they were aiming to be the mouthpiece for the industry, I imagine their business model is now dependant upon industry funding, particularly when they were running the Rail business events. I think once you're in the industry you can see through the propaganda. Funnily enough, I was blocked by Mr Harris for suggesting that Rail was too on-message with the industry. The most amusing thing is when this subject comes up in messrooms amongst the enthusiast sect, it's amazing how many train crew Mr Harris has blocked from seeing his/Rail's tweets!

Modern Railways is far superior. Analysis that reflects what you can believe and understand from within the industry rather than what the industry is comfortable with the public seeing. Deeper news coverage. Plus, you can get great diagrams, maps and pictures.
 

Ashley Hill

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I stopped buying it in the 90s having bought it from issue one. It was never the same after dropping Enthusiast from its title and ceased to be fun to read. The likes of Railtour Review was occasionally near the knuckle with David Maxey's innuendos and often hilarious. The magazine championed early diesel preservation like the Deltics and class 44s. It also ran in depth articles about subjects like pointwork and signalling and how things worked. It was written for enthusiasts and not the industry. Nowadays it seems to be very commercial,almost a consumer/industry magazine. It's also very political at times and perhaps industry lead. It occasionally also seems a bit extremist in its reporting. No I was not sorry when I cancelled my Ned News subscription at my newsagents.
 

SteveM70

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I also think Mr Harris does them no favours sometimes on Twitter at least (where he uses the RAIL account as his personal account as far as I can tell)

I used to follow him on Twitter but he’s so sanctimonious I had to stop
 

87electric

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RAIL Magazine is viewed as a joke by many. Devoid of any journalists or journalism of note, while helplessly trying to be an industry mouthpiece. Delusions of grandeur. No class.
 

irish_rail

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RAIL Magazine is viewed as a joke by many. Devoid of any journalists or journalism of note, while helplessly trying to be an industry mouthpiece. Delusions of grandeur. No class.
I hate to say it but that does seem to be the case. When the editior decided to promote his personal assistant to become deputy editor or similar it was yet another hammer blow for the magazine , she is a perfectly adequate writer, however it is clear her railway knowledge is limited.

For me the editor is the main problem in all this. He is a good journalist and can write well, however where he wants the magazine to go and what he has done with it, have undoubtedly ruined it in my mind. As others have pointed out the magazine seems to act as his personal mouthpiece and woe betide anyone disagree with his views ( Wolmar excepted ).
 

antharro

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I used to read RAIL; I even considered a subscription. But then I realised I really wasn't enjoying reading it and was buying it more out of habit. So I had a look around and picked up a copy of The Railway Magazine. Must admit I was pleasantly surprised by the difference, and have stuck with it since!
 

yorksrob

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I still enjoy rail, but it probably needs a bit of a re-fresh.

It could possibly do with being a bit less industry orientated and a bit more geared to the dedicated rail traveller.
 

Welly

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I stopped buying Rail 25 years ago when I discovered Railway Magazine covers my interest far better without needing to come every 2 weeks!
 

NeilWatson

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I suggest a subscription to Readly! Rail, Railway Magazine, Railway Times, Steam Railway, plus various modelling, heritage and historic interest magazines all for £7.99 monthly!

www.get.readly.com
 

Mcr Warrior

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Anyone bother with 'RailNews'?

A few quite good main articles but a lot of it reads like ToC PR releases.
 

theironroad

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I used to follow him on Twitter but he’s so sanctimonious I had to stop

Indeed and I find it rather odd that the magazine as a whole doesn't run a separate Twitter account as it's fair to say some of his tweets are pretty odd.

I'll scan it at newsagents but won't buy it unless a few articles really grab me, which is rare.
 

DB

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For in depth articles, Modern Railways is far better than any of the competition - no others have writers of the calibre of Roger Ford, Ian Walmsley and Tony Miles.

If wanting a more enthusiast type magazine with lots of pictures, Rail Express is generally fairly decent.
 

43096

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RAIL Magazine is viewed as a joke by many. Devoid of any journalists or journalism of note, while helplessly trying to be an industry mouthpiece. Delusions of grandeur. No class.
I'd say delusions of adequacy is closer to the truth!

There are just so many problems with it:
- can't decide if it's an industry magazine or an enthusiast magazine, and does neither well;
- cheap and nasty feel to it. This is the first impression - really, really low grade paper that it's printed on;
- sloppy attention to detail and always seems to contain errors;
- an Editor who thinks he's bigger than the magazine he edits;
- an Editor and News Editor who could do with putting as much effort into editing and finding/correcting errors in the mag they're paid to produce as they do into using [email protected]

I'm astonished anyone buys it.
 

306024

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Yes I joined the BLS a few years ago for railtour related purposes but at this point I'm quite happy to fork out my £12 annual membership fee just for 24 issues of BLN you get! It really is a very good little (well, not so little really they're often quite length!) publication with some nostalgia stuff and plenty of current events and quite a few pictures to from all over the place. I have no hesitation in suggesting people try it out and if nothing else it's a heck of a lot cheaper than RAIL!

Had a passing knowledge that the Branch Line Society existed but no idea their publication was so informative. They now have another member. £12 per year gives you the on line version of their publications which is a bargain.

As for Rail we used to jokingly refer to it as the gutter press. To be fair can’t comment any further, never touch it.
 

Ianno87

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For in depth articles, Modern Railways is far better than any of the competition - no others have writers of the calibre of Roger Ford, Ian Walmsley and Tony Miles.

The only criticisms I'd level at Modern Railways (which is generally technically excellent) would be:

-Some of the opinion pieces do come across as a bit smug and smarmy (e.g. all the 'joke' Editors notes popped into the articles), and a bit stuck in "what BR used to do". It almost risks becoming a little out of date as Messrs Ford, Walmsley et al advance in years without new contributors (although Mr Ford is quite clued up on things like Traffic Management, and has written some good articles about decolonisation issues)

-On a similar theme, a bit more 'diversity' of the writing team wouldn't go amiss. It's a bit "old white men".
 

yorksrob

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The only criticisms I'd level at Modern Railways (which is generally technically excellent) would be:

-Some of the opinion pieces do come across as a bit smug and smarmy (e.g. all the 'joke' Editors notes popped into the articles), and a bit stuck in "what BR used to do". It almost risks becoming a little out of date as Messrs Ford, Walmsley et al advance in years without new contributors (although Mr Ford is quite clued up on things like Traffic Management, and has written some good articles about decolonisation issues)

-On a similar theme, a bit more 'diversity' of the writing team wouldn't go amiss. It's a bit "old white men".

The bits you dislike are all those I enjoy. Particularly Ian Walmsley's prog rock references.
 
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