Each edition of the European Rail Timetable contains a Newslines section that captures the changes in European rail services (photo © hidden europe).
One of the many wonderful things about the monthly European Rail Timetable (ERT) is the regular Newslines column. It may be just a single page, sometimes two and exceptionally may run to four or more sides.
Each monthly article records what’s new in the latest issue of the timetable. It may be a new train service launched, an existing service curtailed or diverted and sometimes a mention of the train that is disappearing completely from the timetables.
The section has not always been called Newslines. Until 30 years ago, there was simply an editorial in most issues recording major changes in service patterns since the previous month. And even that was not sacred. If space was tight the editorial page was sacrificed. Following a redesign in the early 1990s the title Newslines was introduced, and that section has been a very welcome feature of the timetable for three decades now.
We count it as a great privilege to have been allowed to publish each monthly Newslines on this website. It was ten years ago today that we received that permission from the then publishers of the European Rail Timetable. That was back in 2011. We are extremely happy that the new publisher of the timetable, who took over the title when Thomas Cook closed its publishing arm in 2013, has continued to allow us to make each monthly Newslines available to a wider readership.
Today, the Newslines archive provides a fine record of how European rail services have changed over the last decade. The May 2011 edition of Newslines, the very first in our online archive, was optimistic in tone. It noted that the Thalys route from Paris to Köln was to be extended via Düsseldorf to Essen, so greatly enhancing connectivity between the French capital and Germany’s Ruhr region. It recorded an increase in the number of Allegro trains linking Helsinki and St Petersburg and welcomed the introduction of new early morning non-stop AVE trains on the Barcelona to Madrid route.
The COVID interregnum has cast a shadow over long-distance rail services in Europe, and recent editions of Newslines have mapped that reduced rail offering. And with the ERT team sensibly deciding to skip some issues during the pandemic, there were some months where there was no Newslines at all.
So it’s nice to note how the May 2021 Newslines strike a positive note, reminding us that many of the currently suspended ÖBB Nightjet services really will be back on track from the last week of this month. These latest Newslines also report on the improving situation in Spain and Portugal, with both countries seeing enhanced services.
The editors and compilers of the European Rail Timetable have carried the burden of tradition lightly. This is a publication which traces its history right back to 1873, and no doubt the current ERT team are gearing up to mark their 150th anniversary just two years hence. Meanwhile, they cast a nod to history in the current Newslines with a reminder that it was fifty years ago today, on 1 May 1971, that the very first trains ran under the banner of the then newly-created National Railroad Passenger Corporation (using the Amtrak brand). The inaugural train left New York just after midnight for the run down to Philadelphia.
The ERT is these days published by European Rail Timetable Ltd. We are grateful to the company’s Director John Potter, to ERT editor Chris Woodcock and to the whole ERT team for keeping going during the pandemic.