Christian Wolmar

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Christian Wolmar
Christian wolmar.jpg
Born (1949-08-03) 3 August 1949 (age 67)
Nationality British
Alma mater Warwick University
Occupation Journalist, author and
railway historian
Known for Transport commentary
Political party Labour

Christian Tage Forter Wolmar (born 1949) is a British journalist, author, and railway historian of Swedish and Russian descent.[1] He is best known for his books and commentary on transport, especially as a pundit on Britain's railway industry, and was named Transport Journalist of the Year in the National Transport Awards in 2007. He is also an advocate for cycling as a means of transport. Wolmar ran to be the Labour candidate for the 2016 London mayoral election but finished second-from-bottom in the voting.


Following his graduation from Warwick University in 1971,[1] Wolmar worked for Marketing, Retail Newsagent, the New Statesman, and the London Daily News. He was formerly on the staff of The Independent (1989–97)[1] and their transport correspondent for four years from 1992, covering the Privatisation of British Rail by the Major government. He also contributed to The Observer.

Wolmar's books and columns mainly analyse the current state of the British railway industry. He has become known as one of the most vociferous media critics of rail privatisation, on grounds which include the upheaval following the Hatfield train crash, the current structure of the industry, and the cost to taxpayers.

He continues to produce regular columns for RAIL magazine and several other magazines.[2]

Wolmar is a frequent speaker and moderator at conferences including events in Australia, South Korea, America, Russia and numerous European countries.

He is known to be against the construction of HS2, a planned high-speed railway between London and Birmingham and further points north.[3][4]


His railway history books include The Subterranean Railway: a history of the London Underground, published in 2005, and Fire and Steam, the first major new history of the railways in Britain for 30 years. Most recently, Blood, Iron and Gold, a history of how the railways changed the world, was published in October 2009, Engines Of War, on how the railways transformed modern warfare was published in late 2010. In 2012 he published The Great Railway Revolution on the history of the US railroads and also in 2012 an ebook On the Wrong Line: How Ideology and Incompetence Wrecked Britain's Railways, an updated version of the earlier Broken Rails. To the edge of the World, a history of the Transsiberian railway, was published 2013.

All have attracted many favourable reviews.

He has also written a book on the abuse scandals in children's homes, Forgotten Children, published in 2000, and has written extensively about housing issues and local government.

Mayor of London election, 2016[edit]

In September 2012, Wolmar announced his intention to seek nomination for the Labour candidacy at the 2016 Mayor of London elections.[5] The WolmarforLondon campaign launched in Brighton in 2013 with Wolmar chairing a panel on "One London" with Nick Raynsford, MP for Greenwich and Woolwich and former Housing Minister, Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of Clean Air in London, Vidhya Alakeson, Deputy Director of the Resolution foundation and Cllr Lise Thorsen, Lead Cllr on Sustainability on Copenhagen City Council.

He held a second conference in June 2014, at The Exchange. Speakers included Neal Lawson, Chair of Compass and Professor Tony Travers LSE. Later he took part in the Labour Party Mayoral hustings at Manchester in September 2014 and unveiled plans to pedestrianise Oxford St with boosts to business and the environment.

Described in the Guardian as "the most extensive grass roots campaign",[6] one poll put Wolmar in second place,[7] with policies called Lifeblood for London, Putting a Roof over our Heads, Caring for the Capital's Well-Being and Hungry for Change.

In June 2015, after cycling over 2,000 miles and speaking at over 100 events, Wolmar won six Constituency Labour Party nominations, and went through to the final shortlist.[8] Described by the Londonist as "the non-politician who wants to be mayor",[9] Wolmar spoke at the five official hustings about his campaign vision for a more affordable, liveable and sustainable London.[10]

He received just over 5% of the total votes and was defeated by Sadiq Khan. Following Khan's successful election as Mayor of London in May 2016, Wolmar announced his intention to run for the Labour candidacy in Khan's vacated parliamentary seat of Tooting in the subsequent by-election; however, he was not shortlisted to the selection meeting to decide the candidate.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Wolmar is a keen cricketer and distance runner, and plays tennis. He is a diehard football fan, having supported Queens Park Rangers for over 50 years.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Biography page, Christian Wolmar's website.
  2. ^ "Christian Wolmar's website – Titles A-Z". 
  3. ^ Wolmar, Christian (28 January 2013). "The HS2 line is one big punt". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Wolmar, Christian (February 2013). "Rail 715: HS2 is still a big Y". Rail Magazine. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Holdsworth, Rachel. "Christian Wolmar Throws His Hat Into The 2016 Mayoral Ring". The Londonist. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  6. ^ Hill, David [1]
  7. ^ LabourList [2]
  8. ^ Labour Party Mayoral selection 2015
  9. ^ Holdsworth.Rachel [3] TheLondonist
  10. ^ WolmarforLondon [4]
  11. ^ Pope, Conor (12 May 2016). "Shortlist for Tooting selection announced". LabourList. Retrieved 5 July 2016. 


  • Stagecoach: A Classic Rags-to-Riches Tale from the Frontiers of Capitalism (rev. ed., 1999), ISBN 0-7528-3088-0
  • Broken Rails: How Privatisation Wrecked Britain's Railways (2001), ISBN 1-85410-857-3
  • Down the Tube: The Battle for London's Underground (2002), ISBN 1-85410-872-7
  • The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground Was Built and How It Changed the City Forever (2004), ISBN 1-84354-022-3
  • On the Wrong Line: How Ideology and Incompetence Wrecked Britain's Railways (rev. ed. 2005), ISBN 1-85410-998-7 (previously published as Broken Rails)
  • Fire And Steam: A New History of the Railways in Britain (2007), ISBN 0753156849
  • Blood, Iron and Gold: How The Railway Changed The World Forever (2009), ISBN 1848871708
  • Engines Of War: How Wars Were Won & Lost On The Railways (2010), ISBN 978-1-84887-172-4
  • The Great Railway Revolution: The Epic Story of the American Railroad (2012), ISBN 978-0857890351
  • On the Wrong Line: How Ideology and Incompetence Wrecked Britain's Railways (ebook, rev. ed. 2012), ASIN B008GFWHAC
  • To the Edge of the World: The Story of the Trans-Siberian Express (2013), ISBN 978-0857890375
  • The Iron Road: The Illustrated History of Railways (2014), ISBN 978-1409347996

External links[edit]