Published since 1873, the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable was a remarkable book, an essential companion for any serious train traveller to Europe. It used to cost £14.99 from selected branches of Thomas Cook (ask at the bureau de change section) or online from Thomas Cook Publishing. But read on...
The death of the Thomas Cook Timetable, August 2013...
In summer 2013, Thomas Cook Group pulled the plug on their whole publications department, and the August 2013 edition was the last Thomas Cook European Timetable ever published, just months after it celebrated 140 years of publication. But don't panic...
The rebirth of the European Rail Timetable, early 2014...
The dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team have put together a private venture to carry on publication. The space to watch is www.europeanrailtimetable.eu, and they expect to publish their first edition in early 2014.
What did the European Rail Timetable contain?
Schematic maps of all major European rail & ferry routes, both international & within each country, see the sample map below;
Timetables for all major international routes in Europe, as far east as Istanbul, Moscow, St Petersburg & Kiev, as far west as Lisbon, as far south as Athens, Sicily, Gibraltar, see the example timetable below;
Timetables for all principal domestic train services in each European country;
Timetables and route maps for all ferry services serving Europe, including Baltic, English Channel, North Sea and Mediterranean;
It now also includes train service in Asian Turkey and Asian Russia, including the Trans-Siberian Railway.
A complete index of all places covered in the timetables;
How to read the timetables, with an explanation of the symbols used;
Calendar & list of public holiday dates in each European country;
Time zone information;
Useful rail travel words & phrases in English, French, Spanish, Italian & German;
Basic city plans for some 34 European cities showing location of main stations & interchanges (see examples below);
Car-carrying (Motorail) train routes, departure dates & timetables;
Airport link information;
Was it worth buying one?
If you're only making one journey from A to B and back, well of course you can find the necessary train times online these days. But if you plan to make regular trips from the UK into mainland Europe several times a year, or are planning an extensive tour, then yes, it's definitely worth buying a copy. Having your own comprehensive timetable allows you to plan at leisure in your armchair at home, and when travelling it puts you in control of your own trip. It can save you hours in queues for station information desks or struggling with station timetables which show only the most basic information. It's published monthly, although as European timetables only change twice a year in June & December, you don't need to buy one every month. Just buying the June and December editions is sufficient for most travellers, although occasional updates and revisions happen in between. In fact, even a Thomas Cook Timetable that's two years out of date is far better than travelling blind!
The last Thomas Cook editions have sold out.
The reborn European Timetable will be available from early 2014 at www.europeanrailtimetable.eu
Example rail route map...
This is a typical rail route map shown in the Thomas Cook Timetable. The numbers next to each rail line refer to the timetable for that route.
Here's an example timetable. Don't worry, an explanation of how to read the timetables and of all the symbols is included at the front of the Timetable. Each column is one train, and you read downwards (although in some cases a solid black bar under on train saves space by allowing another to be shown further down the same column). Train number, train type, catering, and reference to any footnotes, are shown at the top of each column. As you can see, like the railways themselves, the Thomas Cook Timetable always uses local place names, 'München' for Munich, 'Wien' for Vienna, 'Bucuresti' for Bucharest. You soon get used to this! A crossed knife and fork means restaurant car, a goblet symbol means buffet refreshments. '1-5' (the numbers in circles at the top of a column) means Mondays-Fridays, '6 7' means Saturdays & Sundays. Easy, really...
Example city maps...
It also includes simple but useful city maps showing stations and interchanges for some 34 European cities...
Extracts used here with kind permission of Thomas Cook...
The Thomas Cook Rail Map of Europe: Buy from Amazon UK Buy from Amazon USA
If you can still find it available, the Thomas Cook Rail Map of Europe is easily the best map of European train routes that there is, showing rail routes from Portugal in the west to Ukraine in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily in the south. Scenic routes are highlighted. It costs around £8.99 from branches of Thomas Cook or you can buy online from Amazon UK with worldwide delivery. Highly recommended and well worth buying, especially if you are buying an InterRail or Eurail pass and doing a lot of travelling.