Rail Author

Rail Author


With more than 45 years working in and around the rail industry, David Spaven has now tapped that experience – and his enthusiasm for the written word – to author eight books on the geography, history and politics of Britain’s railways. A selection of David's books are listed below.
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Mapping The Railways

Published in 2011 – a highly-acclaimed volume, co-written with Julian Holland, featuring 121 topographical and specialist railway maps, supported by well-researched commentaries and photographs. It was awarded ‘2013 Popular Transport Book of the Year’ by the Railway & Canal Historical Society, and has sold over 70,000 copies.

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Waverley Route: The battle for the Borders Railway

Editions published in 2012, 2015 and 2017 – sets out the story of how the line came to be closed as a result of the Beeching Report, and then partially re-opened (to Galashiels and Tweedbank) in 2015.

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The Railway Atlas of Scotland 

Published in 2015 and reprinted in 2018 – this is the first specialist railway atlas of Scotland, and features 181 topographical and railway maps – plus informative text commentary on cartographic, geographic and historical aspects – on the story of Scotland’s railways across 200 years.

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Highland Survivor: the story of the Far North Line

Published in 2016 – is the first complete history of Britain’s longest rural railway, the 168-mile line from Inverness to Wick and Thurso, which dramatically escaped the 'Beeching Axe' in 1964. It was awarded ‘2017 Railway Book of the Year’ by the Railway & Canal Historical Society.

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Border Union Dream: the inside story of Britain’s boldest railway preservation bid 

Published in 2018 – reveals the many machinations of the audacious 1969-70 bid by the Border Union Railway Company to re-open the axed Waverley Route from Edinburgh to Carlisle, and is profusely illustrated with never previously published archive photos of the period.

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The Insider Rail Guides 

Written for the visitor as well as the regular passenger, these unusual guide books published in 2017 provide short histories of the lines and entertaining, informative commentary on the view from the train window. Illustrated with over 60 black & white photos, hand-drawn maps and specially-commissioned sketches.

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Freight train photograph by John Furnevel

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