It was just a few weeks ago that we celebrated 140 years of the Thomas Cook timetable. Heralding the publication of the March 2013 edition we wrote in European Rail News (on 28 February this year):
“Titles and designs may change, as indeed do train times, but the simple concept enshrined in the book has remained essentially the same over 140 years of publishing history. And that concept is magnificent.”
But not so magnificent, it seems, as to endure for ever. We are saddened to have to impart the news that Thomas Cook is withdrawing from the UK travel timetable and guidebook market. The August 2013 edition of the European Rail Timetable will therefore be the last to be published by the company. It will be Issue 1526 of the illustrious guide.
That’s the bad news. Well do we understand that many will be greatly saddened by this development. The European Rail Timetable (or Cook’s Continental as many still call it) is a book held in great affection by its users. It has helped shape our lives and our travels, just as it has widened horizons for thousands of others. Rail travel in Europe will never be quite the same without Cook’s.
But buried away in this is a thread of good news. A small team, led by the current compilers of the timetable, is working hard to create a new company which we hope will continue publication of the timetable. It will need to be fleet-footed and alert to emerging technologies that are transforming the publishing industry. The plan is to continue the timetable and one or two other rail-related titles that have hitherto been published by Thomas Cook.
We’ll report further on this project as it develops in the coming weeks.