The winter 2019/2020 edition of the European Rail Timetable includes a number of tributes to Brendan Fox's long tenure as Editor of the publication.
Few men have been privileged to hold the editorship of the European Rail Timetable – just half a dozen in the publication’s 146-year history. That’s even less than that other great publishing institution, the Oxford English Dictionary, which has clocked up eight editors over 140 years.
Brendan Fox’s contribution to the European Rail Timetable extends over four decades. He was appointed Assistant Editor in 1982, moving up to Editor in 1985, so allowing the previous incumbent, John Price, to assume some wider responsibilities within Thomas Cook in his final three years leading up to his retirement.
John would have been a hard act to follow, but Brendan quickly developed his own style of pioneering leadership, presiding over the monthly publication at a period when an information revolution, mediated by the development of the internet, transformed passenger access to rail timetable data. With new workflows, and a new wave of game-changing technologies in printing and publishing, Brendan Fox’s time as Editor of the legendary timetable was full of challenges – and these he met with discipline, wry good humour and a formidable understanding of the daily movements of trains around Europe.
On Brendan’s watch, the Continental Timetable (as it was known when he joined the company) morphed into the European Timetable (in 1988), changing again to the European Rail Timetable (in 2005), so emphasising that this is first and foremost a compendium of rail schedules.
Brendan’s enthusiasm for the printed timetable, almost an art form in its own right, has been a guiding light. What is less well known, perhaps, is that Brendan is at heart a bus man. In his spare time, when not working on the European Train Timetable, Brendan has mapped the movements of buses from Peterborough to Prague and he surely knows more about the bus schedules of Malta than any of the bus users on that island.
The news that Brendan really has now retired seems barely credible. Last time he retired was back in 2013, when he gave up the editorship of the European Rail Timetable. Within months, he was back, diligently working away as a compiler for the monthly timetable which from early 2014 has been published by John Potter and his team.
This time, we fear, retirement might be for real. The immediate beneficiary might be Brendan’s loft, which we hear needs some reorganisation – a lifetime of collecting old timetables makes demands on space. But the losers here are the wider community of European rail users whom Brendan has served for so long. The gap left by his departure from the timetable team will not easily be filled. Thank you, Brendan, for all your hard work over so many years.