Christian Tage Forter Wolmar (born 3 August 1949) is a British journalist, author, railway historian and Labour Party politician. He is known for his commentary on transport, especially as a pundit on Britain's railway industry, and was named Transport Journalist of the Year in the National Transport Awards in 2007. He is also an advocate for cycling.
Wolmar ran to be the Labour candidate for the 2016 London mayoral election but finished second-from-bottom in the voting. He was Labour's unsuccessful candidate in the Richmond Park by-election, 2016, coming third.
Following his graduation from university in 1971, Wolmar worked for Marketing, Retail Newsagent, the New Statesman, and the London Daily News. He was on the staff of The Independent (1989–97) and their transport correspondent for four years from 1992, covering the privatisation of British Rail by the Major government. He also contributed to The Observer. He continues to produce regular columns for RAIL magazine and several other magazines.
Wolmar's books and columns mainly analyse the current state of the British railway industry. He is a critic of rail privatisation, on grounds which include the upheaval following the Hatfield train crash, the current structure of the industry, and the cost to taxpayers. He is opposed to the construction of HS2, the planned high-speed railway linking London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.
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Wolmar's railway history books include The Subterranean Railway: a history of the London Underground, published in 2005, and Fire and Steam, the first major new history of the railways in Britain for 30 years. More recently, Blood, Iron and Gold, a history of how the railways changed the world, was published in October 2009, Engines Of War, on how the railways transformed modern warfare was published in late 2010. In 2012, he published The Great Railway Revolution on the history of the US railroads, and also in 2012 an ebook On the Wrong Line: How Ideology and Incompetence Wrecked Britain's Railways, an updated version of the earlier Broken Rails. In 2013, he published To the Edge of the World, a history of the Transsiberian railway.
He has also written a book on the abuse scandals in children's homes, Forgotten Children, published in 2000, and has written extensively about housing issues and local government.
In September 2012, Wolmar announced his intention to seek nomination for the Labour candidacy at the 2016 Mayor of London elections. The WolmarforLondon campaign launched in Brighton in 2013 with Wolmar chairing a panel on "One London" with Nick Raynsford, then MP for Greenwich and Woolwich, Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of Clean Air in London, Vidhya Alakeson, Deputy Director of the Resolution foundation and Cllr Lise Thorsen, Lead Cllr on Sustainability on Copenhagen City Council. He held a second conference in June 2014, at The Exchange. Speakers included Neal Lawson, Chair of Compass and Professor Tony Travers LSE. Later he took part in the Labour Party Mayoral hustings at Manchester in September 2014 and unveiled plans to pedestrianise Oxford St with boosts to business and the environment.
Described by The Guardian as "the most extensive grass roots campaign", one poll put Wolmar in second place, with policies called Lifeblood for London, Putting a Roof over our Heads, Caring for the Capital's Well-Being and Hungry for Change.
In June 2015, after cycling over 2,000 miles and speaking at over 100 events, Wolmar won six Constituency Labour Party nominations, and went through to the final shortlist of the London Labour Party mayoral selection process. Described by The Londonist as "the non-politician who wants to be mayor", Wolmar spoke at the five official hustings about his campaign vision for a more affordable, liveable and sustainable London.
He received just over 5% of the total votes and was defeated by Sadiq Khan. Following Khan's successful election as Mayor of London in May 2016, Wolmar announced his intention to run for the Labour candidacy in Khan's vacated parliamentary seat of Tooting in the subsequent by-election; however, he was not shortlisted to the selection meeting to decide the candidate.
Wolmar supported Jeremy Corbyn in the 2015 Labour leadership election, saying that he was aiming to avoid a parliament in which Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper are "basically trying to appease the Tories". Wolmar worked as part of Corbyn's policy team, but concluded that he was an ineffective leader and had no strategy to win an election. In the 2016 Labour leadership election, Wolmar supported Corbyn's challenger Owen Smith.
Before being chosen as Labour's candidate, he said that he would vote against Article 50 in Parliament, adding that the EU referendum in June 2016 "was conducted on such dishonest terms that Parliament – or the electorate – needs to vote on the issue before a decision is made whether to leave the EU." Later in November 2016, he said that his "view is that we [Labour] ought to be the party of Remain, we ought to be the party of the 48% and build on that". He also said that he opposes the expansion of Heathrow Airport.
Wolmar came third in the by-election, polling 1,515 votes, fewer than the number of paid-up Labour members in the constituency, which is over 1,600 members, with just 4% of the total vote and losing his deposit.
Wolmar lives in Holloway, London. He is a keen cricketer and distance runner, and plays tennis. He is a diehard football fan, having supported Queens Park Rangers for over 50 years.[better source needed]