About Paul

Welcome to my website!

We are currently re-configuring the website so if you can’t find what you are looking for, please come back soon! 

It should give you an idea of what I’m up to, as well as copies of recent articles and lectures.

Please look at ‘categories – current news’ to see the various pages of news and information about things I’m involved in, and for more in-depth stuff, go to ‘Pages’. My Northern Weekly Salvo is in ‘current news’: comment, news and gossip on railways, politics and culture – sometimes altogether. It appears roughly monthly (no, it isn’t ‘weekly’, that’s just its name). The occasional ‘crank question’ is strangely popular.

There’s a short biographical sketch on a separate page of this site – ‘The Life of Paul’. Suffice to say here that I’ve been in the railway industry, one way and another, for 40 years, with experience in a wide (some would say bewildering) range of sectors and disciplines.

Let me eat cake…Salvo in Ridgmont Station Tea Rooms

I originated and developed ‘community rail’ and was directly involved in the establishment of over twenty community-rail partnerships which have led to increased use of local and regional railways and additional investment.

I write for several periodicals ranging from Chartist, Big Issue North, Local Transport Today to RAIL and Today’s Railways.

Me, and a dignified view of the men’s toilets at Comptoir Libanais, Oxford

My book Socialism with a Northern Accent was published by Lawrence and Wishart (www.lwbooks.co.uk). Railpolitik – bringing railways back to communities, outlines a different approach to rail ownership, somewhere between the current arrangements and Labour’s centralising appoach.

I’ve always been involved in my local community – I was a founder-student of the Free University of Slawit and helped set up the Penistone Line Partnership back in 1993.I’m chair of Bolton Area Community Rail Partnership andvice-chair of Bolton Station Community Development Partnership, which is gradually transforming a large (and for too long, neglected) station as a community hub.

Politically, I’m a Northern Regionalist and supported The Yorkshire Party (formerly Yorkshire First), for which I stood in the General Election in Colne Valley, gaining a rather modest 572 votes.

Proud to be Northern!

I’m now back home in Lancashire, not part of any organised party but I support the work of Compass and Chartist. No single party has a monopoly of ‘correctness’. Philosophically, I’d would describe myself as a green social democrat with an anarchist tinge. This is despite having accepted an MBE for ‘services to the rail industry’. Huh!

Bolton Station CDP getting out and about at a community event in Farnworth

I’m a ‘visiting professor’ at the University of Huddersfield, in the Department of Transport and Logistics. This involves some lecturing and conference organisation. I was recently appointed a Visiting Professor in ‘Worktown Studies’ at the University of Bolton, in the Faculty of Arts.

I was appointed to the board member of Transport Focus in 2013 – this is the national consumer body for rail, bus and tram passengers – and came off in 2016 wen I started working for Arriva UK Trains. These days I do odd bits of consultancy and journalism. Keeps me off the streets…..

To get in touch, go to ‘Contact’ page. Have fun, or ‘hwyl fawr’.



10 replies on “About Paul”

Dear Paul,
I am contacting you on behalf of Wirral Transport Users Association. Our chairman is John Ryan. We are basically a Rail User Group covering Wirral with its links to Liverpool & Chester (Merseyrail Electrics).
We would like to invite you to give us a talk at our AGM in Birkenhead in late July if it is convenient for you.
The date we have planned is Monday 20th or 27th July at 7.30pm. Your talk would be on first which will give you the opportunity to leave early before our AGM.
The date is flexible around the planned dates if they are not suitable.
Kind regards -Angus Tilston Vice Chairman.

Good to read your article in The Yorkshire Post to-day on the great debate over a Yorkshire mayor. For ‘a Lancastrian’ you talk very good sense !! We need a regional ‘parliament’, a Northern Power House, an elected mayor (or a First Minister for Yorkshire) to represent the whole of Yorkshire. I hear that Sheffield disagree – but we all need to pull together. The rural areas of North Yorkshire could be left out if we have a mayor for Leeds. We would be stronger all together. This is a marvellous opportunity for our great county not to be missed.
And yes, A Yorkshire Citizens’ Convention please for us Tykes. ? Do we let others in!! May be those ‘offcumdens’ who love Yorkshire (which incidentally includes my husband).
Val – in the Dales.

Hi Paul, I have just re-read your book ‘British Rail, the Radical Alternative to Privatisation’ published by CLES in 1989 and found it very useful. I have been involved with the railways having worked on both London Transport & British Rail in the70s, 80s and early 90s. And also worked at the GLC’s Popular Planning Unit until abolition in 1986. I have been involved with the Campaign Against Tube Privatisation (CATP) in London for some years.
In Norwich, where I now live, a group of us has been discussing what we could do at a local level to support JC’s rail nationalisation policy. We are considering setting up a campaign called Norfolk 4 Nationalisation of Rail (NOR4NOR) in the new year to argue the case but also to help develop a policy which would not be a return to BR but driven by a worker/ passenger alliance. So this would involve local rail unions and passenger groups. We have the support of the local MP Clive Lewis and the local Green party.
But any ideas from you or possible contacts in Norfolk would be we very welcome! Its very early days so far!!
Many thanks and best wishes, Dave Welsh

Just to say that the friends of Silverdale station near Carnforth (FOSS) have begun work on restoring the Furness Railway waiting room on the up platform. This unique and attractive structure was closed as a waiting room in 1972 following the de-staffing of the station. I carried out a structural survey of this building in May 2015 and found it to be in remarkably good condition (it had been used by the engineering department as a dump up to recently). We need all the help we can in order to restore the building to its former glory, and with Arriva or Arriba trains taking over the franchise in April we need someone who can communicate with them on our behalf. In other words, someone with a bit of clout.
Best regards,


Back in the old days when we had things called multiple units, there was always a brake trailer hooked on with double doors and plenty of space for baggage. I think such a vehicle would be quite useful on today’s trains, especially during the holiday seasons…which seem to go on for 365 days a year. It is very difficult and dangerous for elderly people to move about on a train where the aisles and doorways are blocked by luggage, prams, bikes and prostrate carcasses. Where today’s trains are concerned I would consider the absence of a luggage van to be a design fault and a safety hazard.

Best regards,

Bob Gregson

Station cafes. Bit of a random thought, but I’ve just been in the Pool Café at Hathersage. This station lost all its buildings and is desperately sad, but if you turn out of the station towards the village and take the first left, then on your right just after the church is a superb café attached to the heated open-air swimming pool, run by the Parish Council after it was abandoned by the local authority and an experience worth visiting Hathersage for.

The Pool Café is 1.5 minutes from the station (I timed it today), and of course the next station down the line has the famous Grindleford Station café. If you include Edale (NT café almost on the Manchester platform), Bamford (bit of a walk, but the Anglers was rescued by local villagers all taking shares in it, now part post office/café/pub), plus others like the Indian at Dore, then the Hope Valley has an assemblage to rival the Calder Valley.

Paul, It was good to see you at Llandovery Station this afternoon. I wish I had been given notice of your coming, as Thursday afternoon is a very sociable time here, when a number of chaps in the Model Railway Society turn up at the Station to get on with their modelling (and a good chat and a coffee in the Cafe!).
Today they were making last-minute preparations for the Model Railway Exhibition we are putting on at the Station this coming Saturday and Sunday as our contribution to the 2016 Llandovery Sheep Festival. They would have liked to have met you and your group.
The Station is doing very well as a social centre in town, and is well regarded by the townsfolk. We have a regular monthly display of Arts & Crafts from local craftspeople and schools, the schoolchildren help in the Garden (planting bulbs last week!) and we have a great set on Volunteers in the cafe.
Have you heard of the HoWLTA Walking Trail? This is being established in stages from Station to Station along the line, and will hopefully attract tourists to discover this very beautiful area of Wales. We in the Llandovery Walkers are Welcome group have been responsible for mapping out three legs: Llanwrtyd – Cynghordy, Cynghordy-Llandovery, Llandovery-Llangadog. The whole project is being overseen by Prof Les Lumsden, whom I am sure you know.
Next time you are in our area, please let us know! kind regards, Glyn

I have just received notice and looking forward to your “inspirational talks” in the Crianlarich Hotel on 25 March 17. To give you the heads up on myself, I am an ex railwayman of the west highland type, a signalman working out of Crianlarich to all points north, and latterly south and west. To say I am proud of the fact would be a gross under estimation, I still remember the day I passed my RandRs and was put straight on to the night shift (0200 to 1200) the pride I felt to have my own box and the respect that went with it I have never equalled the sensation from that day to this. People (to there detriment ) have no deep ties to an industry nowadays the west highland was just your way of life, never to be defamed by an unbeliever and always to be defended . Of all the boxes I worked the challenge was always Corrour, the getting to it the returning from it no electric wind rain bloody snow frozen points and signals (usually in the off position) mixed in with the fact you were on your own no PW to give you a dig out in Corrour,aye it was some place. see you on the 25th


Dear james,
I’m so sorry I didn’t puick up your origianl message…I missed your message amidst the usual junk you get. What you said about Corrour was very interesting.
I’ll add you to my blog list if that’s OK?

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