logo

The project

Volunteer-led

Timetable World is run entirely by volunteers giving their time and expertise freely. In this section, we explain what the website aims to do and how we are organised.

The site has been in existence since 2009, and there is a history to read about.

Governance

Timetable World is not an incorporated body, but that is kept under review. It receives free use of infrastructure from a corporate sponsor based in Maidenhead, GB.

Contact

To contact Timetable World, please use our email address:

Approach

Timetable World is a digital-only archive. We rely on partnerships with recognised public archives and private collectors for the supply of material to scan.

As with all successful partnerships, working with Timetable World delivers benefits in return. We help charities with their public outreach objectives and offer archives a way to reduce physical handling of fragile materials. The scans provide a backup and we welcome institutions embedding our web services in their own websites.

We aim to scan non-destructively but no guarantees can be given. We prefer to scan offsite but, subject to changing Covid-19 restrictions, can bring the scanning equipment onsite.

Several contributors have undertaken their own scanning, for which we are grateful. Timetable World offers a way to publish material alongside others and gain access to our free web services.

The overall production process has been streamlined. The main aim has been to reduce the effort required to publish, even if that means the book is initially indexed to a minimal level. The “publish-first, index-later” approach means that volunteers can make a useful contribution. We have begun to gather a good team of volunteers with time, interest, and skills to help improve the collection.

We believe the grid layout is a better approach than publishing large PDFs, because it makes better use of limited bandwidth (particularly on mobile devices) and is easier to browse. Using web services means that the display is separated from the content and enables the same content to be used in many ways, not just via the default viewer that Timetable World offers.

Scope

  1. The transport modes are those that have fixed routes, scheduled operations and relatively complex networks. The likely priorities (in order) are trains, regular buses and coaches, trams/metros and scheduled airlines
  2. Complete timetable books are preferred over leaflets and similar ephemera, except where the latter are of above-average graphical quality
  3. Older material is prioritised over newer, typically aiming at periods before the growth in motor car usage had diminished services. In the UK, that means pre-1970s, and in Eastern Europe for example, pre-1990s.
  4. The collection should be representative rather than comprehensive. It is not practical to digitise everything, so the priority is to achieve diversity over depth.
  5. The geographical scope is “world”. The audience and availability of archive material are both likely to be concentrated in certain countries but breadth and diversity of coverage are important.

Exclusions

There are some things that are not included:

  1. The website is a digital archive and is not intended to be a journey planner. It will not hold any current schedules, and may impose a lag on recently superseded items too
  2. The website cannot use any non-original publications as sources i.e. published reprints.
logo

11 years of Timetable World

History

The first version of Timetable World was released in late 2009.

Google Maps was launched three years earlier. Google’s “Summer of Coding” in 2006 gave hotshot student programmers an opportunity to pursue projects and it led to a huge leap forward in the open source mapping technologies available. The founder of Timetable World started experimenting with one, PanoJS, in 2007, and built some maps for his personal interest.

Timetable World came about in 2009 when seeking a project whilst between jobs. PanoJS seemed ideal. As a hobbyist software developer – no more – he had never built a website before. One limitation at the time was the cost of hosting websites; the hosting plan was good value, but it only offered 10Gb of storage. Timetables stopped being added when the space filled up.

Not much happened with the website after 2011. Some mapping integration was removed because it was incomplete, and work-in-progress scanning stalled. In 2017, the space problem was solved by moving the hosting to its current location, where space is cheap and effectively unlimited.

Mid-2020 is when a relaunch of Timetable World started to take shape. It turned out that the site was being heavily used and has a loyal user base. The site had worked reliably for 10 years and, after asking on various forums, no one had a bad thing to say about it – other than its limited range.

Legacy website

You are reading the new website. However, the legacy website is still available and probably will be retained in perpetuity.

The style of websites has changed markedly in 10 years. Mobile and touchscreen devices have become commonplace, and these encourage a swiping style of interaction – up-and-down to scroll through words, left-and-right to make choices. Menus are fiddly to use.

The site has been rewritten to reflect the new ways of interacting. The so-called responsive style means the site adapts to work on different screen sizes. A larger screen is still recommended but the site should work on all sizes.

Follow the Legacy menu to view the former site. The content is limited to the books that were originally published. It is instructive to see how things have changed.

Maybe you prefer the older style. That’s understandable, but it took too long to prepare material and Timetable World will not be going back to it.

Usage

Who has been using the site?

The evidence is that usage is heaviest in the UK, where the site is based and much of the material is from, but visitors from North America and Germany make up a significant share. One regular correspondent is (now was) a railroad man on Wyoming’s Powder River, whom the founder has met up with in London, GB, and Cheyenne, WY.

As one might expect, the most active users are railway modellers and gamers, and railway hobbyists in general. Significant coverage of bus operations has been added only with the new website.

Based on the emails received, local historians undertaking research are another important group, often interested in the timetables to weave a larger story. Book authors and researchers for media outlets use the site for fact-checking. One lady wanted help to find the train her parents had first met on, to help celebrate a Golden Wedding.

Quite a lot of the web traffic is from robots indexing the site for the various search engines. But Google Analytics tells us the numbers of real people visiting are healthy.

logo

People and Partnerships

Volunteering

Timetable World is heavily dependent on voluntary contributions. You can be credited as you wish, or not at all. But please do make contact.

  1. The supply of books by collectors and archives for scanning is vital. We always aim to scan non-destructively. A good starting point is for you to share a list of timetables you can offer, and we can work out the best way to gain access to them on a case-by-case basis. We may be able to make arrangements to scan material in your home country.
  2. Scanning books yourself might be a good option. If you are looking for a home-based project during lockdowns, it is a creative and practical activity. For efficiency, we recommend using an overhead scanner: see The Technology to learn what is involved.
  3. Indexing work is really helpful – for getting material published and helping end-users to navigate. It is a good way to develop in-depth familiarity with the timetable in question. You can select from a list of Open Jobs, and we have developed an indexing screen to help make the task more straightforward. Using Google Translate may be necessary, depending on your langauge skills.
  4. Articles will become an important part of the website, and Timetable World is keen to publish your material. The subject can be almost anything so long as the resulting article makes use of the timetables and maps on the website, and they need to be no more than five-minute reads (800-1000 words). You can build a series if you have more to say. Timetable World will help with design and editing as much or as little as you need.

Anything else? Let’s hear from you.

Matthew Shaw - Founder
Matthew Shaw - Founder

Partnerships

Timetable World is keen to establish partnerships with archives, libraries, timetable publishers and the like. We would like to thank the following organisations for the assistance given so far.

Bus Archive logo"The memory of the bus industry"
Network Rail logoFor permission to reproduce in-copyright timetables
European Rail Timetable logoEuropean Rail Timetable Ltd.: Publishers of the former Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable
mapywig logomapywig.org: A digital archive that has expanded to include scanned maps in the public domain from many sources.

Credits

Timetable World would like to thank the following people for their contributions.

Phil DeavesFor kindly making his database of geo-coded GB stations available to Timetable World
Dan EngstromFor his wonderful collection of pre-War US and Canadian timetables
David WalkerFor the loan of a complete set of British timetables for 1955
Colin GreenFor scanning and indexing the (British Railways) Western Region 1965 timetable
Dave HindFor the loan of various British Railways timetables between 1920 and 1966
Bob WestawayFor donating a complete set of British timetables from 1973
David HumphreysFor the loan of various US railroad booklets
Ben BrundellFor scanning and sharing a West Yorks PTE timetable
“Ivybridge”For scanning many books from a European collection
Conrad SmithCollector extraordinaire, for the loan of timetables, use of his own scans and assistance in proof-reading the website
John TrevelyanFor undertaking lots of indexing work, rail and bus
Colin PenfoldFor indexing work and the loan of various timetables
Ingolf AschenbrennerFor loan of Storm 1926 and for permission to republish material from his deutsche-kursbuch.de site
Filippo RicciFor pointing us towards Fondazione FS's archive
Kurt Sicklemore [RCTS]For supplying missing Network Rail electronic timetables
Thomas King Horne 1929-2009A donation of All India 1961 by his family
Chris SuttonFor donating several Japanese timetables
Adrian BondFor indexing Potteries Motor Traction Co.
David SmithFor indexing several bus timetables
Ken HolwayFor indexing several bus timetables
Ken DowningFor indexing several railway timetables
David GibbensFor indexing several bus and timetables
Andy AllenFor indexing bus timetables
“Rickmansworth”For indexing bus timetables