Cover of an issue from January 2013
|Publisher||Bauer Consumer Media|
|First issue||1981 (as Rail Enthusiast)|
Rail is an English magazine on the subject of current rail transport in Great Britain. It is published every two weeks by Bauer Consumer Media and is available in the transport sections of many British newsagents. It is targeted primarily at the enthusiast market (those whose hobby is railways, rather than their occupation), but also covers business issues, often in depth.
Rail is more than three decades old, and was known as Rail Enthusiast from its launch in 1981 until 1988. It is one of only two railway magazines that increased its circulation in 2012 (the other being The Railway Magazine, published monthly, which Rail outperforms overall). It has had roughly the same cover design for at least a decade, with a capitalised italic red RAIL along the top of the front cover.
Rail is customarily critical of railway institutions, including the Rail Delivery Group, the Office of Rail and Road, as well as, since it assumed greater railway powers, the Department for Transport. Rail's' continuing campaigns include one against advertising and media images showing celebrities and others walking between the rails (an unsafe practice) and another against weeds on railways.
The magazine's readership peaked in the late 1980s at around 45,000. Since then the market for railway magazines has declined, although more titles (e.g. Rail Express, Traction, Heritage Railways, Today's Railways Europe and Today's Railways UK) have appeared. To meet the change in the market, the magazine has repositioned itself from being purely enthusiast-based to being more business-oriented. This has met with some success, but the title must also cater for enthusiasts, if it is to continue to be available through retail outlets.
Rail also organises conferences, including the annual National Rail Conference, the National Rail Awards and the Rail 100 Breakfast Club.
Regular features and contributors
Rail publishes a mix of news, analysis and features written by its own editorial staff and freelance contributors.
The magazine takes a broadly supportive stance on High Speed 2 and began running a regular column dedicated to it in 2013.
Other regular contributors include transport commentator Christian Wolmar, one of the most vociferous critics of the privatisation of railways in Britain; fares and ticketing expert Barry Doe (The Fare Dealer); an anonymous railway employee, the Industry Insider, as well as Steve Broadbent, Andy Coward, and Chris Leigh.
Many of Rail's' editorial staff frequently appear on television and radio when a rail expert is needed to comment on a story.
- Industry Insider
- Christian Wolmar
- The Fare Dealer
- Stop & Examine
- List of rail transport-related periodicals
- Modern Railways
- Railways Illustrated
- The Railway Magazine
- Today's Railways