Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

A Railway War Begins

Michael Portillo examines the role of the railways in World War I. He begins his journey in the French city of Metz on European tracks built with war in mind.

World War I was a railway war. Michael Portillo finds out how the railways helped to precipitate a mechanised war, shaped how it was fought, conveyed millions to the trenches and bore witness to its end. He takes to historic tracks to rediscover the locomotives and wagons of the war that was supposed to end all war and hears the stories of the gallant men and women who used them in life and in death.

Michael travels through Britain and northern Europe uncovering railway stories from the Great War. He begins his quest in the French city of Metz on European tracks built with war in mind, charts the birth of the railway war at a small station in Luxembourg and discovers how Britain's railways coped with the challenge of sending thousands of troops to join the conflict from Southampton. Finally, he returns to France to learn how the early war of movement gave way to the stalemate of the trenches.

30 minutes

Last on

Mon 11 Feb 2019 19:30


Role Contributor
Presenter Michael Portillo
Executive Producer John Comerford
Series Producer Alison Kreps


Featured in...

World War One on TV and Radio

World War One on TV and Radio

Marking the centenary of World War One across the BBC