Portillo's Greatest Railway Journeys

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Season 1
Michael reflects on 180 years of royal fascination with the railways. He recalls King George V and Queen Mary’s Royal Train Tour in 1913 to the calm the militant north of England, and the delight of a young Thai prince who received the gift of a working steam train set from Queen Victoria.
Michael looks back at notorious crimes on the railways during the times of his Bradshaw’s and Appleton’s Guides and delves into the history of skulduggery by the owners of North American railroad companies.
Michael returns to the cradle of the Railways, Rainhill, a little town not far from Liverpool in the northwest of England, where in 1829 a competition was held to discover the most improved locomotive engine for the railway.
Michael has travelled thousands of miles across five continents and through two centuries of history aboard some of the world’s most exhilarating and spectacular railways. Michael shares his thoughts on the role of railways in war.
The invention of railways less than 200 years ago coincided with the colonisation by Europeans of vast swathes of the world. Britain, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Germany, and the Ottomans used railways to further their imperial ambitions in Africa, Australia, the Middle East, India, China, and South East Asia.
Michael explores how railways enabled the dissemination of cultural, social, religious and political ideas. He celebrates the cultures, to which his antique Bradshaw’s railway guidebook has introduced him in Great Britain and Ireland, Continental Europe, North America, India, Australia and South East Asia.
Michael Portillo explores how railways have contributed to the creation of countries, linking people across deserts and mountains and binding together different ethnicities and religions.
Michael examines how railways have shaped the world economy. He recalls how the first tracks were laid to shift coal and iron ore, using animals or winches, long before locomotives were invented less than 200 years ago and marvels at how railways have today become a critical part of global infrastructure.
Michael Portillo celebrates over a decade of railway adventures across the world. In this episode, he looks at how railways gave birth to modern tourism. The first railway companies were quick to spot a business opportunity, as was George Bradshaw, who quickly published his descriptive guidebooks, whetting the appetites of...
Michael explores how politics, domestic and international, have shaped the railways. He recalls the political decisions which green lit the great North American transcontinental railways, and the scandal which brought down the Canadian government while the nation’s epic line was under construction.