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Chiltern Railways (ePub)

The Inside Story

Transport Photographic eBooks Colour eBooks Trains and Railways

By Adrian Shooter
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
File Size: 36.8 MB (.epub)
Illustrations: 200 colour & black and white illustrations & a route map
ISBN: 9781526792501
eBook Released: 28th February 2022


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This book, uniquely, gives an insight to the business strategy and its delivery that underpinned the performance of one of Rail Privatisation’s greatest successes.

It also shows the reader some of the many ‘behind the scenes’ jobs which are essential to the functioning of a railway but which are rarely seen by outsiders.

Throughout, it demonstrates that a railway, like many other endeavours, is a team effort. Every employee is just as important as the boss. He can have a day off and it all still works. If a driver or a maintenance fitter, working on their own, make a mistake all hell can be let loose.

At a time of change, partly brought about by Covid, this book gives strong clues as to how the Nation’s railways might be more efficiently organised and run.

It is easy to read and copiously illustrated.

This is the story of a train operating company which became one of the major successes of railway privatisation in Britain, told by the man who led Chiltern Railways from his appointment as director designate in 1993 through the management buyout in 1996 and the development of the franchise until his retirement as Chairman in 2011.
By way of introduction the author gives a frank personal description of the way in which rail privatisation was envisaged and executed. His view is that it was bungled by civil servants, accountants and lawyers who had no understanding of what running a railway meant. Then he shows how a high-level vision of a privatised Chiltern was developed into a long-term plan. The main part of the book describes how this plan was executed.
What made the Chiltern approach to their franchise different was that it was based on expansion, rather than the status quo, and it was developed by people familiar with the railway industry. Shooter understood people and he achieved staff backing to deliver a service focussed on what passengers wanted – a safe railway, with comfortable trains running frequently and on time, improved car parking, ticketing and stations. The narrative shows how innovative Chiltern was and lifts the lid on much of the background work that Shooter and his team did to achieve success, winning a twenty year franchise extension on the way. Projects given the ‘inside story’ treatment include new class 168 Clubman trains, Parkway stations at Warwick and Aylesbury Vale, extensions of services to Kidderminster and Oxford, reinstating double-track between Princes Risborough and Aynho Junction, reopening the terminal platforms at Birmingham Moor Street and adding two new platforms at Marylebone. A chapter on safety includes the aftermath of the 2005 Gerrards Cross tunnel collapse and bridge bashing problems.
This is a lively and readable book, attractively presented in a large format and well-illustrated with photographs, letters, and documents that directly supplement the text, although some captions lack sufficient detail. There is no index or bibliography, but the nature of the work makes the latter unnecessary. Shooter presented the 2013 Clinker Lecture about Chiltern Railways and the privatisation process (published in RCHS Journal No 220, July 2014) and this book extends his direct and forthright approach to the subsequent development of Chiltern. As the personal view of a successful career railway manager, it gives a unique insight into the political and business machinations involved in railway privatisation in general, and Chiltern in particular. Many of the author’s candid observations about various railway, business, legal, academic and political figures and organisations are critical, but he also gives praise where it is deserved, including to Labour politicians John Prescott and Andrew Adonis – and that from a lifelong Conservative. The nature of the book means that it does not present a balanced view, but it is a fascinating story and essential reading for those interested in recent railway history. With its profuse illustrations it should also have an appeal to the wider public as well as railway professionals and enthusiasts.

Tim Edmonds, The RCHS Journal

"A very readable book giving an excellent insight into establishing a successful railway operation."

The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society - The Railway Observer, July 2022, Volume 92, Number 1121

Review as featured in:

Rail Express

This is not a book for someone looking for in depth profiles of the Chiltern rolling stock, although they do of course feature briefly where appropriate, but a book for someone who is interested in finding out how and why decisions were made and how those decisions were delivered. It does not matter if you agree with rail privatisation or not this is a fascinating and excellent read which is difficult to put down. A well-chosen selection of excellently reproduced photographs and maps accompany the text. Overall this is a quality, well written and presented hardback book which is easy to recommend and good value at the RRP.

Diesel and Electric Modellers United, Winter 22 Issue

Review highlight: 'If you are interested in the story of railway privatisation and what is involved in running a successful Train Operating Company, this book is a must. Highly recommend.'

As featured in:

Railways Illustrated

Competition as featured in


A book that provides a valuable insight into the management of a railway company that is widely regarded as one of the success stories of Rail Privatisation in Britain. Each chapter is extremely well researched and eminently readable. The content is a balanced mix of text and photographs, with many of the photographs showing employees who made Chiltern such a success. All photographs are well reproduced and the maps clear without extraneous detail. Highly recommended.

Read the full review here

Rail Advent

"An interesting book by a top manager."

York Model Engineers Newsletter - March 2022

"Highly recommended".

Read the review here


As Featured In

Modern Railways February 2022

About Adrian Shooter

Adrian Shooter joined the Festiniog Railway Society, aged 14. He has had a 2 ft gauge railway in his garden for almost 20 years.

Meanwhile he helped run the school Railway Society and went on to join British Railways as an Engineering Graduate Trainee in 1970.

Rising through the ranks, he led a Management Buyout for Chiltern Railways in 1996 and went on to demonstrate that railways really can be a means of stimulating economic development.

After retiring in 2011, he set up Vivarail Ltd. which leads the way with railway Decarbonisation. He is also Chairman of SLC Rail.

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