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Christian Wolmar is one of the UK’s foremost speakers specialising in transport. He has spent nearly all of his working life as a journalist, and was at The Independent from 1989 to 1997, mostly as transport correspondent. Although he mainly concentrates on transport matters, he covers other social policy issues and has written on a wide range of subjects from cricket to the Private Finance Initiative.
After graduating from Warwick university in 1971, Christian worked on various publications including the Retail Newsagent, Marketing and the Hampstead and Highgate Express. He later moved to the New Statesman and the London Daily News and spent a year working for Camden council editing its magazine. He is currently a freelance, working regularly for a wide variety of publications including the Evening Standard, The Independent, the Daily Express, Westminster and Whitehall World and Public Finance. He has a regular fortnightly column in both Transport Times and Rail and all his recent material, since 2000, is available on the website.
Christian has become one of the UK’s leading commentators on transport matters and has won several awards for his work. He broadcasts frequently on radio and TV and is a regular pundit on the national news bulletins of terrestrial channels and Sky, as well as having appeared on virtually every radio news programme from World at One and the World Tonight to Radio One’s NewsBeat and LBC. He has made several radio documentaries, including a recent Radio 4 programme on the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham, twenty years after the riot.
Christian undertakes consultancy and advisory work for organisations seeking to understand the workings of the rail industry. Christian is also a regular speaker at conferences and is often asked to chair sessions them. He is also available for after dinner speaking on his favourite topics, the London Underground and the railways.
His books include Stagecoach (1999), an account of the firm which rose from nothing to the FTSE 100 in 20 years, The Great British Railway Disaster (1997), a humorous series of anecdotes about rail privatisation, and On the Wrong Line, which is the definitive story of rail privatisation first published as Broken Rails in October 2001 and updated in 2005.
He has written two books on the London Underground, Down the Tube, an account of the Public Private Partnership, published in 2002, and The Subterranean Railway, published in 2004 but now available in paperback, which has been widely acclaimed by the critics (see the reviews elsewhere on this website). Fire and Steam, covers the whole history of the industry from its beginnings in the early 19th century right through to the privatised railway of the early 21st century. He also wrote Forgotten Children, a groundbreaking study of children’s homes scandals of the 1970s and 1980s and several books aimed at schoolchildren. Christian’s latest book, published by Atlantic in 2020 is Cathedrals of Steam: How London’s Great Stations Were Built – And How They Transformed the City.
Christian takes a strong interest in European affairs, coming from a background of studying at a French school and having a Swedish mother and a Russian father. He takes regular breaks to Italy, where he owns a holiday home and can speak passable Italian, as well as fluent French which he occasionally uses for broadcasting. He also has regularly spoken at conferences in Europe and in 2004 was invited by Queensland Rail to address an audience of rail managers in Brisbane, Australia.
He is a member of the board of Cycling England with a special interest in intermodal transport and uses his bicycle as his principal means of transport around London. Christian is on the board of trustees of the Railway Children (visit their website at www.railwaychildren.org.uk), a charity which helps homeless and destitute children at stations home and abroad. Christian is keen to help young journalists and has several times been a judge on the “Best Student Magazine” in the National Union of Students Journalism Awards.
Christian Wolmar is a regular speaker at conferences, meetings and seminars both in the UK and abroad on transport and, specifically, rail matters. He regularly gives briefings on the rail industry to various groups. In the Spring of 2008, Christian toured the Netherlands to talk about the Subterranean Railway. He has also spoken in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany and Australia. On November 1st, he will be giving a lecture on his latest book, Fire and Steam, at the Royal Geographical Society in aid of the Railway Children, following a similar successful lecture on the Subterranean Railway in January 2006.
He has also been involved in the political world. Wanting to stand in the London Mayoral election in 2016 for Labour. He has also stood in the infamous 2016 Richmond Park by-election where he came in at a respectable third place.
Wolmar’s passion for the railways, married to a critical eye, produces informed comment and analysis that is frequently uncomfortable for those industry players subjected to such scrutiny
Rupert Brennan Brown, Porterbrook
Our most eminent transport journalist, Christian Wolmar
Rod Liddle, The Spectator
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