Railways operated on official timetables, issued a few times a year, and they still do in many locations. There are two types – public and employee. If you’ve taken a train, you’ve probably consulted the public one in some form or another. The employee timetable is far more detailed and gives a lot of information to train crews on how to safely operate over the railway.
Timetable World is a free site that aims to share these timetables with everyone. It was originally launched in 2009, and it was relaunched in 2020 with updated software and a vastly expanded library of timetables.
The new site is designed to work well on both desktops and mobile devices, and features a timetable viewer for paging or panning through timetables, an extensive search function, and a small army of volunteers that continue to scan and upload new content.
Most of the 300+ timetables on the site are public timetables, with a strong European lean but also including Asian, African, Middle Eastern and North American timetables. I hope they will include South America as well… it’s probably only a matter of time.
As a test, I went to the site, selected Timetables from the top menu, then North America, and I was presented with a list of railways and maps on the left side.
Selecting Canadian Pacific Railway and then “Canadian Pacific Railway 1950s” brought me to this screen.
Each public timetable is presented as a row of images. Using your mouse – or your finger on a tablet – you can scroll left through the timetable or down through the years. You can zoom in on any page and read them clearly. They are high resolution scans!
I tried this on my phone and it works well there, although it’s annoying to view on the small screen as you might expect. A tablet displays the site very well and you can pinch and zoom.
The site owner, Matthew Shaw, reached out to me to let me know about the site, and to ask for contributions. I’ve sent him some early Canadian timetables and I expect they’ll show up on the site eventually. They have a backlog of timetables, so it’ll take time.
They have a very extensive collection of CN, CP and VIA timetables, so that should satisfy most Canadian needs.
They also have a lot of railway maps, which can be hard to find!
Long time readers know that I collect timetables – mostly employee timetables – so this site is very interesting to me. I had been considering uploading all of the digitized VIA timetables in my collection, but now I don’t have to!
For tech nerds like me, the technology used in scanning, indexing and serving the timetables is very interesting.
I made a little video showing how to use the site.
I encourage you to check the site out and start looking around!