From Orient Express to The Railway Children: top 10 trains in novels

E Nesbit nurtured a generation’s love for railways, while Agatha Christie put murder on track – Sarah Ward picks her favourite trains in fiction

I’ve always wanted to put a railway in one of my crime novels. My grandfather was a train driver, working on the famous Great Western Railway, and the Peak District where I live is full of relics from the age of steam. From decaying signal boxes to the impressive Headstone viaduct, these landmarks are a reminder of how ubiquitous train travel once was. I utilised one Victorian tunnel as the location of the crime in my latest novel, The Shrouded Path.

Rail journeys have an enduring appeal in fiction. Children’s classics may romanticise the practicalities of train travel, but have nurtured a love of railways in generations of readers. Distance or comfort isn’t necessarily important: you can get as much enjoyment from reading of a short trip through the English suburbs as a journey across Europe on the Orient Express. And rail journeys can also shape a narrative, with the compartmentalised world of a train carriage providing the perfect opportunity for a locked-room style mystery.

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