Book Review: Rail Rover – East Midlands Rover by John Jackson

This book shows how a Rail Rover ticket can provide excellent opportunities for travel, both for rail enthusiasts who wish to observe freight train movements in many of the country’s freight hotspots, and those who wish to explore the delights of East Midlands’ cities such as [1], [2], and [3], and for considerable distances beyond.

Published by Amberley Publishing[4] in January 2021 and written by John Jackson, this softcover book comes in the usual Amberley format of around 234 mm x 165 mm with 96 pages, 178 colour photographs and a route map. It has a published price of £15.99, but Amberley Publishing[5] has it on sale for an online price of £14.39, whilst Amazon[6] has it available for £9.52.

The book is divided into routes and centres of interest, from around [7] and [8] to Lincoln and around [9], and railway hotspots such as [10], [11], and [12]. A very clear map in the introduction drawn in the style of London Transport’s maps makes it very easy to appreciate the rover’s coverage and limits.

With the rover’s validity stretching from Milton Keynes in the south to [13] and Doncaster in the north, and from [14] on the [15] east to Lincolnshire and South Humberside, it is an area rich in contrasts, which the author has taken full advantage of.

Three of the country’s main lines, the West Coast, Midland, and East Coast, stretch from north to south across the ticket’s boundaries, but there are many other railway lines in between. In a book of this size, it must have been difficult for the author to select a suitable choice of photographs to include, but his final selection is to be commended.

The rover user is spoilt for choice when it comes to passenger train operators, with express services complemented by a wide variety of diesel and electric local services and many freight trains operated by a variety of operators.

The pages below depict Stafford on the West Coast Main Line at the junction with the line from Birmingham and Wolverhampton. This location provides a good variety of both passenger and freight trains, and the author includes a good selection of trains from different operators, with the ones on the left below showing freight trains hauled by locomotives from [16] at the top and [17] below. At the top-right is a Class 70 from Colas, whilst at the bottom-right is a Class 92 bearing the roundels that were applied to members of the class used for trains through the Channel Tunnel.

East Midlands Rail Rover 28-29
Credit: [18]

Being situated at the heart of the East Midlands means that Derby and Nottingham come well within the ticket’s coverage. The area has long been associated with coal traffic, and although that is now nearly consigned to history, the photos on the left-hand page below will trigger memories of the not-too-distant past when coal trains were a common sight. On the right-hand page, [19]‘ striking livery is prominent on the two types of trains that operated its services to London, with a Meridian at the top and an HST at the bottom.

East Midlands Rail Rover 44-45
Credit: RailAdvent

No doubt many enthusiasts will head for Doncaster or Peterborough on the [20] as both these destinations are within the ticket’s validity. In the selection below the left-hand page shows locomotives from Direct Rail Services at the top and [21] below, and on the right-hand page at the top-right are a pair of Colas Class 60s, with a convoy of Class 56s in British Rail’s Railfreight livery below.

East Midlands Rail Rover 66-67
Credit: RailAdvent

Although [22] in Lincolnshire doesn’t immediately spring to mind as a destination for a day out, it is a mecca for railway enthusiasts with a large number of freight trains passing through the station every day and, until recently, an assortment of semaphore signals. Its inclusion in the East Midlands Rover’s area makes it ideal for enthusiasts, who will be able to capture scenes such as these below, with a Colas Class 70 on a train of bitumen tanks at the top-left and a [23] Class 66 on a loaded coal train below it, while at the top-right is a Freightliner Class 66 on a train of iron ore, and at the bottom-right a DB Cargo Class 66 on a steel train.

East Midlands Rail Rover 70-71
Credit: RailAdvent

Although Lincolnshire is a bit of a railway backwater, it is bisected by the East Coast Main Line. However, many of the county’s lines are devoid of overhead live wires and their ugly infrastructure, and its rural stations provide plenty of photo opportunities. On the left below we see a contrast between a Class 142 Sprinter at [24] at the top and a Class 156 at [25] at the bottom, while at the top-right, is a GBRf Class 66 on a train of container wagons and below that a sister locomotive on a block train from Middleton Towers to [26] passing through [27].

East Midlands Rail Rover 76-77
Credit: RailAdvent

This book illustrates the great opportunities to be had with the East Midlands Rover tickets. Although nominally expensive, by using a Railcard that provides a 30% saving the cost of a 7-day Rover is £91 per adult, which equates to just £13 a day. The author’s choice of photographs has produced both an excellent appreciation of the great number of photo opportunities within the area, and the schematic map shows the large size of the area covered by the tickets. The introduction provides a very useful insight into using the rovers, whilst the captions provide just the right amount of information to balance their associated images. Highly recommended.

The book is available to purchase from Amazon[28] for around £10.60.

We would like to thank Amberley Publishing[29] for providing RailAdvent with a copy of the book for review.

The Review

Rail Rover – East Midlands Rover


  • Excellent map.
  • Good selection of images, from rural passenger to block freight trains.
  • Informative captions.


  • Reproduction quality doesn’t always do justice to the photos.
  • Would be better if printed on glossy art paper.

Review Breakdown

  • Presentation & Layout
  • Captions
  • Value for Money


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