Book Chapter




Shaw J & Docherty I (2009) Railways. In: Kitchin R & Thrift N (eds.) International Encyclopedia of Human Geography. Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 91-99.

This article suggests that railways are inherently geographical in that they link together places by enabling movement across space. The relationship between geography and the railways is bidirectional: on the one hand, the geography of rail networks reflects spatial patterns in existence at the time of their construction (such as the location of settlements and heavy industry); on the other hand, railways themselves exert an influence over the spatial characteristics of the societies they serve (e.g., as time–space convergence reorients patterns of production and consumption). Using examples from around the developed world but predominantly Europe and the United States, the article shows this relationship moving through three distinct phases, as railways have moved from a period of immense significance, through one of relative decline, to potential revival and renaissance.

Accessibility; Congestion; Economic development; Economic geography; High-speed lines; Global warming; Mobility; Pollution; Railways; Social geography; Spatial planning; Sustainable transport; Transport; Transport geography; Urban geography

Publication date31/12/2009
Publication date online08/07/2009
Place of publicationAmsterdam

People (1)


Professor Iain Docherty

Professor Iain Docherty

Dean of Institute for Advanced Studies