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“Everyone together, jumbled up”: Why are so many left-wing men obsessed with trains?

British railways might seem like a niche interest. So why are young men interested in left-wing politics often also obsessed with timetables and Pacers?

By Marie Le Conte  

Is it the left-wing politics that leads to an interest in trains—or vice-versa? Photo: Prospect composite

“Railways are conservative,” Peter Hitchens once wrote. “They are conservative because they help to conserve countryside, and because they are, when well run, a disciplined service requiring loyalty and dedication from their workers, not unlike the armed forces.

He went on: “by giving a centre to towns and cities, they promote cohesion and discourage shapeless ribbon development and the atomisation of society which follows when everyone relies on the car for transport.”

A…

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