For two years I caught night trains across northern England in a triangle marked out by Sheffield, Hull and Manchester. I became so wrapped up in the experience that I tried to catch it in photographs. I wanted to capture the atmosphere of train travel at night, the lights, the blur, the faces, the stations passing by, the jostle and the pause, the electric colours and the inky sky. And there was one other thing that I wanted to capture.
In Tennyson's great poem, The Lotos Eaters, a group of mariners come to a distant shore where they discover the lotos plant - a plant which, when eaten, begets a relaxed lazy state of "dreamful ease". The mariners wonder " Why are we weigh'd upon with heaviness/And utterly consumed with sharp distress,/While all things else have rest from weariness?/All things have rest: why should we toil alone....."
My fellow passengers were mostly commuters and workers, either on their daily round or on the way home, tired-looking and often still working on their laptops, tablets and phones. Yet for me the deepest pleasure of these journeys was to stare out of the window, to let the passing scenery slide across my field of vision, to ruminate "with half-dropt eyelid still" and to gain access to a private world of dream and imagination. So we rumbled on through the darkness, their intent faces lit by the dim flicker of electronic screens and my eyes roaming half-focused over the passing slideshow of industrial estates, high-rises, goods yards and retail parks.
There is still so much to capture the imagination in train travel, even around territory that we know, and that is what I wanted to show in the series from which these photographs are taken