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Last updated:Yesterday at 17:58
Train companies affected:National Rail

Jo Whiley teams up with the rail industry to inspire trips rooted in musical history

Jo Whiley teams up with the rail industry to inspire trips rooted in musical history – with one in five not knowing the Beatles are from Liverpool

  • Enlisting the help and recognisable voice of Jo Whiley, train goers can now listen to 30 city-specific audio guides, inspiring them to take a trip and explore music scenes both past and present

  • Train travellers will be given the inside track on their favourite songs, music genres and artists from Britain thanks to a unique new initiative from the rail industry

  • New research has revealed the country is at risk of losing its connection with its rich musical history, with 1 in 5 Brits not knowing The Beatles are from Liverpool and 60% unaware that Grime music originated in London

Despite Britain having produced many of the world’s most famous musicians, many Brits still remain unaware of the origins of our favourite bands, songs and genres. To get Brits’ knowledge back on track and encourage more of us to explore Britain’s musical roots by train, the rail industry has teamed up with Jo Whiley to document a series of short audio guides telling the stories of British music scenes past and present. 

The campaign comes as new research reveals 1 in 5 Brits are unaware of the Beatles’ scouse roots, 2 in 5 (40%) didn’t know Oasis come from Manchester, and 68% had no idea the Manic Street Preachers heralded from Wales.

From today, train users will be able to receive geo-targeted stories, via a free app, to help them turn their journey into a guided tour of Britain’s musical roots. Narrated by Jo Whiley, listeners will discover everything from the origins of genres and the locations that helped shape and influence some of Britain’s most popular artists and bands.

One of Britain’s musical treasures, Kate Bush, seems to be a mystery to most with just under a fifth (17%) of Brits knowing her Kent origins, while almost 1 in 10 (9%) think American singer-songwriter Madonna comes from Britain. 

Although it has produced many of the world’s most famous musicians, Britain is at risk of losing its connection with its musical past – despite almost half (44%) of Brits believing that knowing the heritage of their favourite music makes them feel more connected to it. In fact, when it comes to the music genres that have defined British music history, just over a tenth (12%) of Brits know Trip-Hop originated from Bristol and 60% had no idea that Grime originated in London. Punk, a genre most-heavily associated with London, seems to have also gone under the radar, with over half of Brits (57%) unaware it originated in the capital.

With over 40% of Brits believing that music is more enjoyable if you know where it comes from, the rail industry is helping people uncover the stories relevant to the places they’re travelling to and passing through whilst on the train and when planning their next journey. The guides have been designed to inspire a trip rooted in musical history - because nothing beats being there when it comes to enjoying the music we love. 

Details on the guides, and how people can download the app, will be available at nationalrail.co.uk/musicalroutes. They uncover historical music gems such as Queen’s music video filmed on a Peterborough railway track, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger meeting on a train platform in Dartford, and the tale behind how Simon & Garfunkel’s hit, Homeward Bound, was written in a station.

Broadcaster Jo Whiley said:  “I’m very passionate and proud of Britain’s musical heritage – and I’d hate for people to lose their connection to it. I believe that you can appreciate music on a whole new level when you get out there and experience the places that influenced it. 

“Working with the rail industry, I’m hoping to inspire fans to take a trip, by train, and discover more about their favourite bands and genres of music. Enjoying a train journey whilst listening to one of the audio guides is the perfect way to connect with our musical history. Experience the hometowns that helped shape artists, walk the streets that are referenced in their songs and visit train stations that connected them in more ways than one.”

Jacqueline Starr, CEO at Rail Delivery Group, explained: “Travelling by train connects you to the people, places and things you love – like music. We’re delighted to be working with Jo to help people rediscover the fantastic musical heritage Britain has to offer, and inspire them to explore the origins of genres, artists and the locations that influenced them by train.” 


Nothing Beats Being There. Visit www.nationalrail.co.uk/musicalroutes to find out how you can turn your next train journey into a guided tour of Britain’s musical roots today.

Notes to Editors

About the guides

The guides were developed with the help of Kevin McManus – a music expert and curator from the British Music Experience.

Full list of guides include:

  • Birmingham

  • Brighton

  • Bristol

  • Cardiff

  • Carlisle

  • Coventry

  • Doncaster

  • Durham

  • Edinburgh

  • Glasgow

  • Leeds

  • Leivester

  • Liverpool

  • London Bridge

  • London Euston

  • London King’s Cross

  • London Liverpool Street

  • Manchester

  • Newcastle

  • Nottingham

  • Oxford

  • Peterborough

  • Sheffield

  • Southampton

  • Stevenage

  • Stoke-on-Trent

  • Watford

  • Widnes

  • Windsor

  • York

The guides are available on nationalrail.co.uk/musicalroutes and the Window Seater app.

About the research 

This survey was conducted by Mortar Research by a total of 2,055 respondents on both mobile and desktop devices. All were based in the UK. The study ran on 20th - 23rd February 2024. (Please get in contact with [email protected] for further research breakdowns) For more information or any queries, please contact [email protected]  

About National Rail 

Rail Delivery Group manages certain products and services on behalf of the rail industry through its National Rail brand. National Rail provides customers with journey planning, real time, fares and rail-related information. National Rail also helps customers save 1/3 on most rail journeys (and 60% on kids’ fares) with Railcards. The range of Railcards consists of 16-25, 26-30, Family & Friends, Two Together, Senior, Disabled Persons, Veterans and Network Railcard. There is also a 16-17 Saver that saves customers 50% off their rail journeys, including season tickets. For more information visit www.railcard.co.uk. For more information on journey planning, fares and booking travel assistance visit www.nationalrail.co.uk.