IN the hit film Slumdog Millionaire brothers Jamal and Salim beg and steal on India’s train network.
Thousands of children like them live on the platforms of stations across the country.
Every time a train pulls in they scamper across the tracks, climb on board and go through the rubbish to see if there is anything they can sell.
At night they sleep where they can – some in corrugated iron containers at the end of the platform.
The plight of these little children, some as young as five, has touched Northern Rail employee Paul Salveson, of Huddersfield.
He has written a booklet about the social history of railways in the north of England and a slice of the proceeds will be going to the Railway Children, a charity which helps runaway and abandoned children who live in and around the world’s railway stations.
Northern Rail Heritage is a readable, illustrated introduction to where the world’s railways began, bringing the story up to the present day.
Paul, 55, who lives in Golcar, works for Northern Rail as their head of government and community strategies. He has a lifelong interest in railway history and was honoured with an MBE last year for his work in championing the cause of community rail lines – notably the Penistone Line.
“Too often railway history is just about locomotives,” says Paul.“My short introduction highlights the role that people have played in railway history – the ordinary railwaymen and women who have kept the trains moving, and the people who used our railways.”
The booklet was first produced for Northern Rail employees and proved popular with non-railway people who got to see it.
“It seems a good idea to make the booklet available to a wider audience and Northern was happy for me to republish it, with some minor changes,” said Paul.
Northern’s managing director Heidi Mottram, has written the preface to the booklet, saying that “Northern Rail is very much a part of the living heritage of the north of England... we are very proud of the fact that our trains still run on the tracks of the original Stockton and Darlington and Liverpool and Manchester railways.”
The booklet is well illustrated, featuring many rare photographs from the National Railway Museum’s collection, as well as images from the 1960s, taken by Paul himself.
The cover illustration, of Manchester’s Newton Heath depot during the transition from steam to diesel in the mid-60s, was taken by Bernard Crick, depot electrician.
Paul will donate £1 from each copy sold to the Railway Children charity, which is currently supporting more than 12,000 children across the world – including Kenya, Guatemala, Tanzania, Mexico, India and Russia.
The charity was formed by experienced railwayman David Maidment after he made a stop at a railway station Bombay during a business trip and was shocked to be approached by a seven-year-old beggar girl.
“During a stopover on a business trip, I was accosted by a six or seven-year-old beggar girl who was whipping herself.”
Paul is publishing the book under the Little Northern Books imprint, a small publishing business he founded last year.
It aims to publish good quality, accessible work on the history, culture and politics of the North of England, with an emphasis on Lancashire and Yorkshire.
The booklet costs £6, with £1 for post and packing, from Little Northern Books, 90a Radcliffe Road,Golcar, HD7 4EZ.