For each country in the Guide the following information is provided:
The first group of headings gives General information about each country and its railway systems.
The name of the country is given, together with the form (or forms) used within that country.
National Railway System
The name of the national railway system (or more than one name if several language versions are used) may be given here if it is a holding company which has operating and infrastructure subsidiaries. The abbreviation of the name as commonly employed is also given.
National Railway Operator
The name of the national or dominant operator, which is often the (former) state railway company. The abbreviation of the name as commonly employed is also given. This abbreviation will usually appear on wagons and coaches owned by the railway concerned as well.
This is simply the language commonly (or officially) spoken in the country concerned. There may be more than one language in this category, but some minor variations are not mentioned.
The main currency unit is named. 19 of the 28 members of the EU are part of the Eurozone following the conversion of Lithuania on 1 January 2015. Croatia, which became an EU member on 1 July 2013, plans to join the Eurozone as soon as possible.
The International Union of Railways (UIC) specifies that rail vehicles capable of making international journeys carry, as part of their numerical identification details, a code which corresponds to the country of ownership. Recently an alpha code has also been added. This section details these codes. See also Wikipedia entry.
Web address given where known. The Interrail Rail Planner app allows schedules for most European railways to be checked off-line.
Web address given where known. Generally the timetables are in same format as the printed timetable; most are in Portable Document Format (PDF). Where it is not immediately obvious "what to do", some hints are given. Any information about publicly accessible working timetable information would be given under this heading.
The name of the timetable book containing services of the state railway system is given, together with some notes on its content (whether bus and other services are included, for example), comments on the use of languages (other than that commonly used in the country) in it and its frequency of publication. However, ever decreasing numbers of railways are producing a printed timetable book covering the whole network. Timetable leaflets may be available for individual regions/areas or lines, but not infrequently only in the local area, and these may cease to be freely available within a relatively short time of a new timetable coming into effect. A downloadable timetable (see above) may still be available after issue of a printed timetable has ceased, but not infrequently the only source of information may be the journey planner. In a few countries with a small network, the only information may be station departure sheets.
Web address given where known. For some countries, web addresses giving strike information are also shown where they exist.
Web address given where known. This information is included to help people get around between lines in countries with a sparse rail network or awkward railway geography.
See also Maps and Plans.
Details are given of available railway maps and atlases in printed form and also non-specialist maps which show railways to a good standard. Additionally, available maps are listed by and can be ordered on line from Transport Diversions Emporium.
Details are given of available railway maps on the web, which may include those on the infrastructure authority websites.
Any special information about ticketing, seat reservations, rover tickets etc. is provided here. In particular mention may be made of any network or rover ticket which offers better value than the One Country Pass. A particularly valuable guide is the "Rail Pass Guide Continental Europe" published annually by "Today's Railways" magazine, which lists many passes of which the casual visitor may be unaware.
The name of owner of the national rail network. This may be a subsidiary of the national railway system or an independent entity. The abbreviation, if any, of the name as commonly employed is also given.
A useful list of European infrastructure authorities is given on the RailNet Europe Members & Network page.
Railway administrations are required to produce a detailed Network Statement. This often contains much useful information and some or all of it may be accessible to the general public.
The normal gauge used by the state railway concerned is given, and brief details of lines not conforming to the general gauge are noted. "Standard" means 1435 mm (4 ft 8½ in). For technical reasons, some railway administrations widen or narrow the "nominal" gauge, and this gives rise to discrepancies in the quoted figures; those given are taken from official sources wherever possible.
The principal system of electrification is specified in terms of electric potential ("voltage"), and whether direct current (d.c.) or alternating current (a.c.). Current collection is assumed to be from overhead wires unless otherwise stated. Brief notes on any nonstandard arrangements are given. Details of cross-border arrangements, where appropriate, are given in the relevant Border Crossings pages.
Rule of the Road
In Britain trains usually keep to the left hand track of a double line of railway, and it is this arrangement that is meant by the rule of the road. In some countries where there is very little double track any rule is of less significance since, in almost all the countries surveyed, there is no fixed rule about which track is used at passing loops on a single line route. In other countries reversible working is common and it may not be at all obvious which is the "normal" arrangement. Where the word "varies" appears under this heading, this situation is implied. Other countries with a well established "rule" but having a certain amount of reversible working ("banalisation" is the French term for this) are distinguished by a note to that effect.
Information on the best source of detailed distances for this country, if known. In many cases this may be the Network Statement, if this can be accessed. Any information for countries where this is not listed would be welcomed by the compilers.
A very useful set of distance based tables for Europe and the rest of the world is available on the railwaystationlists website.
The next group of headings comprise notes on passenger services, and details are given for each country of recent and proposed developments (including opening and closing of lines).
A list of other passenger carrying railways in the country is given, with an indication of gauge (if not standard), name of the owning organisation, and other points of interest. This list is as complete as possible for those railways operating a regular passenger service, but for some countries information is not readily available. Freight only lines are not normally listed; if tourist trains only are operated, then the line will appear in the list under Tourist Lines.
Only the more significant and currently operational tourist or preserved lines are listed. Some of these tourist lines carry normal freight traffic (run in some cases by a different operator), and it is important to note that the frequency of service on tourist lines can vary greatly, from many days in the year to perhaps only one or two.
A list of towns and cities with a local railway service not operated by the state system is given. See also Links - Metros and Trams.
A list of towns and cities with tram services appears under this heading. Sometimes the distinction between "light" rapid transit (interurban trams) and "heavy" rapid transit (Metro) is not clear, and so some systems might appear under either the "Metro" or "Trams" headings. A link may be provided to tram services over obscure routes for that country. See also Links - Metros and Trams.
Bruse's Funiculars is an excellent source of data on funicular railways around the world.
Recent and Future Changes
Any known developments (e.g. electrification, new lines, branch line closures) are given here. Obviously the list is unlikely to be exhaustive, and may indeed be wrong. In most cases openings, electrifications and closures which have taken place recently are given here.
Particular notes on railway or more general matters not covered elsewhere are given here. Any special hazards of the country concerned are mentioned.
Lines with Obscure or Sparse passenger services
Services given here are over sections of line which carry a very restricted service or those not easily recognised from the timetable concerned ("unusual lines"), and their selection is therefore somewhat arbitrary. Train details are nearly all taken from public timetables. In some cases the routing given is to some extent speculative and has not been checked by observation, although it does seem probable. Where there is considerable doubt, this is indicated. The compilers would be pleased to hear from any reader with more definite information.
In general routes which are simply "main line connections" or which concern fairly minor deviations or which serve isolated sections of stations may be omitted here.
Only outline information is given about the days of operation of these trains, so it is essential that users check all trains and dates of operation with a current timetable before committing themselves to travelling on these services. In particular, no information is given on public holidays. However a useful website gives details of Worldwide Public Holidays.
Countries are listed alphabetically. Each route entry is given an identification number for reference purposes; e.g. the first entry for Belgium for the 2010/11 timetable year is referred to as BE11/1. These entries are usually approximately in timetable order where an official timetable exists. As official (printed) timetables are becoming less common, a logical sequence such as geographical location is used where this does not exist (for instance Spain). For particularly large or complicated networks, such as Germany and Italy, listings are subdivided by geographic region. The extremities of the line are given as the passenger stations nearest to any junctions concerned. Where known, the actual junction names are given in parentheses ( ) following the station name. These may be identified by the prefix Bif. (French: = Bifurcation; Spanish: = Bifurcación; Portuguese: = Bifurcação) or P.Odg. (Polish: = Post Odgał) or Ram. (Romanian: = Ramificaţia) or Y (Belgium) or Abzw (German: = Abzweigstelle - a brief Guide to German railway terminology is available). In the case of connections from high-speed lines, the previous passenger station may be a considerable distance from the junction identified in the heading. Under many of these headings, reference to table numbers in the timetable book is given in square brackets [ ].
Map references for each route entry are given in parentheses ( ). Generally this refers to the European Railway Atlas by M.G.Ball in the original printed editions published by Ian Allan. For countries with recent updates this refers to the modern electronic version, and to indicate this the map reference is prefixed "ERA". For some countries, an additional map reference may be given in italics: for Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Slovenia the Schweers+Wall Eisenbahn Atlas, for the Czech Republic the Malkus Atlas Drah Ceské Republiky, and for Poland the Eurosprinter Mały Atlas Linii Kolejowych Polski 2011.
Trains are listed by train number (in italics) and are usually given their true originating stations, unless the train originates at several places, in which case what appears to be the principal originating station is quoted. Terminating stations are normally given unless the train serves several places. In cases where a train originates some distance from the section of line concerned, the time is given for the last stopping place before that section, rather than at the station where the train starts (sometimes both are given). In the lists of trains, station names are sometimes abbreviated, provided the meaning is clear, in order to save space.
No special indication is given for trains which do not convey seating accommodation (i.e. those with couchettes or sleeping cars only) and users should check the timetable for this restriction.
A list of services (without train times) which are particularly sparse by the standards of the country concerned is also given under this heading. The train count is usually that for three mid-week days and may be different on market days or at weekends. There may be no trains on Sundays or public holidays.
A list of Border Crossings between the countries in the Guide is given, with electrification details where appropriate. See also Border Crossings - General Information.
Individual trains are sometimes marked with a code to draw attention to restricted days or dates of operation, or other important information. These codes are:
- D Only runs certain dates
- E Only runs certain dates during summer timetable period only
- H Only runs certain dates during winter timetable period only
It is important to distinguish between trains which run only on certain dates, but use the obscure route on every day that they operate, and those which do not use an obscure route on every date on which they run. In the latter case the dates on which the train uses the route are normally specified in notes.
(unless otherwise shown, trains run every day of the week)
- M Monday
- T Tuesday
- W Wednesday
- Th Thursday
- F Friday
- S Saturday
- Su Sunday
- O only
- X excepted
Weekdays should be taken to mean Mondays to Saturdays, unless the context suggests otherwise. Public holidays (for which dates are usually shown in the country timetable) generally have a Sunday service or in some cases a modified service. Services may also vary on weekdays immediately before and after public holidays. It is not practicable to include such exceptions in tables and users should check schedules particularly carefully if travelling around public holiday periods.
- : (for example 17:34) This is how normal station stops are shown.
- s (for example 17s56) Train stops only to set down passengers. Boarding at this station may not be allowed.
- u (for example 18u03) Train stops only to pick up passengers. Alighting at this station may not be allowed.
(shown after the train title)
- A car carrier train which carries foot passengers
- AA car carrier train barred to foot passengers
- N unadvertised train
- * Route subject to confirmation – it applied to the equivalent train in a previous timetable.