Filmed over a year across the nation, this new six-part observational documentary series for BBC Two goes behind the scenes of an industry we all love to complain about – the railway. With unprecedented access to Network Rail and Britain’s leading train companies The Railway: Keeping Britain On Track reveals the inner workings of one of Britain’s biggest institutions.
Britain’s railway is the oldest and one of the busiest in the world. With nearly 1.5 billion journeys made every year, it is a huge network under constant pressure. We see how track-workers, train guards, drivers and management teams strive to keep Britain moving. But on the railway anything can happen. Major and minor incidents play havoc with tight schedules, from suicides and faulty signals, to cable theft and Mother Nature, all bent on bringing the railway to a grinding halt, causing chaos for thousands.
The first episode follows staff at London’s King’s Cross station working in the cramped and tiring conditions of the old concourse, where overcrowding is at its worst in 20 years. While platform staff search for late drivers to keep trains running on time, management are on a recruitment drive for the station’s new multi-million pound Western Concourse. Meanwhile, in the travel centre, passengers can hardly disguise their horror at the high fares some have to pay.
We see every aspect of this iconic station and the dedicated staff who work there, including train dispatcher Laxman, who has an emotional week as he prepares to leave his beloved railway and head off into retirement after 35 years at King’s Cross.
The Railway: Keeping Britain on Track is part of BBC Two’s Genius of Inventions.