The Man in Seat 61 is also known as Mark Smith
Mark started out as an ordinary London railway worker with a passion for foreign parts and a fierce dislike of air travel, both the actual experience of riding a plane and what it means for the way people experience the world. Today he runs a globally acclaimed website that has become the resource for those who prefer to get about by train and ship when they go abroad.
The turning point for Mark seems to have been in March 2001 when he decided to divert himself on the commute home with slim volume intended to teach the layman something about programming basic HTML. Having just got his first computer he thought it looked like it might be a bit of fun.
Always something of a travel obsessive, and unhappy with the paucity of resources available for English men and women wanting to know about night trains in Turkey or whether or not there was still a ferry from Cyprus to Haifa, setting up a web site to share his knowledge of such things with the rest of the world seemed to be the most natural thing in the world for him to do.
The site grew fast and, with a nice intuitive interface, elegant layout and vast amounts of really useful information, began to compile list of positive media references and awards that is still being added to today.
As a seasoned traveller himself Mark seems to have a feel for what a westerner making an overland journey needs to know, and he’s managed to get basic information on ticket prices, time tables and on-board conditions almost anywhere there are trains to be caught. If anyone is planning a trip to Bangladesh and needs to know what time the train pulls out of Chittagong for Dhaka, seat 61 is where to go for the answer.
Seat 61, incidentally, refers to the only seats on Eurostar trains (in cars 7, 8 and 11) that nicely line up with the window.