International passenger

trains in 20th Century Europe

International passenger trains in 20th Century Europe

 Political history is often reflected in railway timetables and international travel routes tend to follow in the wake of political affiliations, communication between countries being broken, resumed or increased in accordance with relations between respective governments and peoples.

“Fahrplanschriftleiter” (Railway Magazine, 1957, p799)

 The main data source used in this site has been timetables. They summarise the services of different railway administrations, notably Cook’s Continental Timetable (Cook’s European Timetable after 1975) and Bradshaw’s Continental Railway Guide which ceased publication in 1939. In addition, national timetables have been important. A database of international passenger services has been created showing services for the years in question in this web site. It currently holds data about 3,000+ trains which has been used in this web site. Train movements are recorded in timetables in varying degree of detail. Important here is the composition of trains. Many timetables have this feature, some do not. This makes tracking a service difficult. The database supporting this site has been produced by this process.

International services are planned by international decision. The way in which states came to agreements was through a number of international organisations made for this purpose. Germany played an important part in creating the international convention which dealt with timetable matters. In 1847, the Verein Deutscher Eisenbahn-Verwaltung(VDEV) was created to coordinate regulations for traffic between the German states but this was later extended to include Austria-Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Romania. A timetable conference first met in Munich in 1860 at which some German States were present in addition to France and Austria. The first meeting of European governments’ delegates and representatives of European rail administrations met in Köln in 1872. By 1891, this convention was known as the European Timetable Conference. From 1952 the following title was created- Conférence Européenne des Horaires des trains de voyageurs – CEH. Moving forward to 1994, this body decided to fuse passenger and freight timetabling into one body and thereafter became known as Forum Train Europe (FTE)..

Train Timetables


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