The Navigators (2002)

The privatisation of British Rail has grim repercussions for a group of railway workers in Yorkshire.

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Alternative titles

  • Paul, Mick E Gli Altri Alternative


“Loach's Leftist agenda bubbles just below its surface, but our affection for our railways is such that he might finally have made a film that will appeal even to those who do not share his politics.”
David Gritten, The Telegraph, 2001

Scripted by former railwayman Rob Dawber, this dramatised polemic lays bare the unappetising choice faced by railway workers after the still contentious privatisation of British Rail in the mid-1990s. Either they can continue existing jobs for lower pay and safety standards, or accept redundancy and break up long-established teams, the quality of whose work is at least as much due to personal camaraderie as effective management.

The film’s tragic conclusion is as inevitable as it is shocking – and matched by real-life incidents, since filming commenced in the wake of the 2001 Hatfield train crash. It went straight to television in Britain, but was a top-ten box-office hit in Paris, whose audiences must have been bewildered by the British notion of how to run a railway.

Michael Grigsby’s Enginemen (1959), a powerful documentary financed by the BFI Experimental Film Fund, shows a day in the life of locomotive shed workers in Manchester.

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