This characteristically elegant documentary from British Transport Films shows how British Railways keep trains running on time.
Train Time celebrates the nationalised transport network and the ingenuity and persistence of its staff. These were typical themes for British Transport Films, the much–celebrated film unit of the British Transport Commission. Here they illustrate perfectly the updating of the wartime documentary style to the early postwar era.
As in many World War II documentaries, non–actors play ‘themselves’. Only one professional is used, playing the suave ‘Mr Calloway’. Calloway is prepared to work all night to ensure trains run on time and that delays in one place don’t slow down the whole system. Helped by a ‘voice–of–God’ narration, we viewers are able to make the connections between events happening simultaneously in different places.
The film’s deepest theme is the interdependence not just of railway managers, staff and trains but of society itself: agriculture, shipping, coal and steel are all part of the picture. This is an inclusive vision, though one in which proper hierarchies are respected. Note the scenes of conference calling between a national manager and his regional subordinates.
Glistening photography and a light, imaginative score by Edward Williams add zest to a well–crafted, involving short film filled with steam and imbued with the values of public service.
Cast & credits
- Director John Shearman
- Script John Rowdon
- Music Composed by Edward Williams
- [Music] Played by The Philharmonia Orchestra
- [Music] Conducted by John Hollingsworth