Altered without notification (or reasoning) is the strapline for the most frequent railway magazine, RAIL. The publication's strapline had, since we've been subscribing, stated "First for news" yet by issue 597 (possibly as early as issue 595 - but we can't find it!) has been replaced with "Best for news".
On one level I'm pretty indifferent about straplines, especially when they're applied to a name which pretty much gives the publication's game away in terms of its remit and its subject of coverage; but then in a competitive market place if your competitors have straplines then you don't want to be left out, lest it look as if you can't keep up with the times!
RAIL, produced by Bauer at their Bushfield House base in the Orton Southgate industrial estate, Peterborough, is the most frequent of the main rail magazines to be published, done so as it is fortnightly. Its main selling point for us is that it manages to successfully be both an enthusiast publication as well as an informed industry rag. No other rail magazine seems to cover both bases as well - certainly RAIL's fortnightly publication is the biggest indication of its willingness to act as a trade magazine, mirroring the much more expensive (but superb) Transit magazine.
With a fortnightly publication RAIL simply will be "First for news" on many occasions, unlike its competitors whose copies can be purchased from WH Smith et al on a monthly basis. Why the change then?
If anyone from RAIL is reading this, perhaps they'd like to email us: NOT THIStransportemail@example.com, we're dying to know. It's the frequency of the news that is the main draw for us and the main reason why we subscribe. Well, that and Barry Doe's The Fare Dealer column.
A friend of the LEYTR told us that he no longer takes RAIL as it has become "too political" for his liking. Certainly Nigel Harris' editorials are very political, though whether we like it or not it's only at a political level where the fundamental decisions that so affect every aspect of the rail industry are made. The editorials form a kind of lengthy comment section you'd expect to see in a trade magazine. Not so political is the inside-rear Stop & Examine column in which Nigel Harris uses space to appeal to the other half of the readership; RAIL seem to be leading the fight for photographers' rights to enjoy their hobby without interference from employees within the industry who seem hell-bent on simply being awkward, or so readers' correspondence suggests.
So impressive is RAIL's clout that it published the following statement from Temporary Chief Inspector Nicholas Barker, on behalf of the Chief Constable of the British Transport Police:
"I can confirm that there is no power to stop members of the public taking photographs on railway premises for personal or legitimate purposes. Whilst officers are encouraged to actively engage with the public it is important that their actions are not seen as restricting people from enjoying a lawful activity."
Photographers' guidelines can be found on the British Transport Police website.
All-in-all it's a fascinating magazine and compares favourably over others in the rail industry. We've subscribed to them all over the years it seems and yet RAIL is the only one now that continues to receive our money - that and the publication our friend Robin Sisson edited for two years.