Geography and Transport

Authored by: Jon Shaw , Iain Docherty

The Routledge Handbook of Mobilities

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415667715
eBook ISBN: 9781315857572
Adobe ISBN: 9781317934134


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We sit writing these words on a ScotRail train service running along a newly completed stretch of line between Airdrie and Bathgate, in the Central Belt of Scotland. The line in question is the fourth rail link between Glasgow and Edinburgh and forms part of a larger investment programme to upgrade rail connectivity between the two cities and their hinterlands. This is not the first of our chapters or papers we have part-written on a train, and nor will it be the last. In addition to using our most common train journeys between Plymouth and London (Jon) and Glasgow and Edinburgh (Iain) to review lectures, respond to emails, catch up on reading or get through any number of other tasks, we occasionally meet up to make train journeys with the sole intention of exchanging research ideas or (as in this case) committing these ideas to paper. As transport geographers it seems odd now to think that until the last few years neither we nor our colleagues in the sub-discipline ever really gave much thought to making this practice of working on the move the object of systematic academic inquiry. We may well have been interested in the geography of the transport network on which we were travelling, or the regulatory environment that had influenced its extent and level of service, or the uneven spatial impact these have on economic development, or patterns of trip generation. Some of us would have made noises about particular gaps in the transport geography literature or suggested new research agendas (Hall 2004; Knowles 1993; Law 1999), but few would have dwelt beyond anecdote on the experienceof travelling, or for that matter on how particular journeys are represented(Cresswell 2006). We would not have considered in any serious way the relationship between the ‘travel space’ – the bounded area in which individuals travel, such as a train carriage, bus or car – in which we found ourselves and our capacity for productive activity.

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