RAIL CHRONOLOGY : TIMETABLE START DATES
Page last updated 17 July 2021
These are the start dates - from 1948 to date - of the British
Railways, British Rail, Great Britain Railway and National Rail public
timetables, covering Great Britain (but not Ireland).
24 hour clock public and working timetables were introduced by
British Rail from 14 June 1965 (apart from Western Region which introduced 24
hour clock public timetables from 15 June 1964) and by London Underground from
7 September 1964. (As an aside, in Ireland, Coras Iompair Eireann introduced 24 hour clock public timetables from
12 June 1967 and Northern Ireland Railways did likewise from 26 June 1967).
Local derivative extract timetables and suburban timetables issued in addtion to main timetables are not listed. London or other suburban service timetables are listed only when their timings are not also incorporated in the relevant main timetables.
Although not of significance for publicly issued documents, British Railways
maintained a week numbering system - used in internal documents - which started at 1 each January,
aligned to calendar years, until 1985. "Year 1985" was extended until the end of March 1986, and
thereafter the weeks were numbered from 1 at the beginning of each financial year starting in April.
From 1 January 1948 for the first five months of that year the
pre-nationalisation company timetables remained in force.
Monday 31 May 1948 (produced Regionally in conjunction with Henry Blacklock & Co Ltd, publisher of Bradshaw's Guide, except for Scottish Region which was in conjunction with Thomas Murray & Co Ltd; 43/4" x 61/2" format)
Monday 27 September 1948
Monday 23 May 1949
Monday 26 September 1949
Monday 5 June 1950 (London Midland and North Eastern Regions changed to 57/8" x 9" format, and no longer in conjunction with Henry Blacklock & Co Ltd)
Monday 25 September 1950
Monday 2 July 1951 (Regional timetables had printed validity of Monday 18 June to Sunday 23 September 1951
but actually only came into force from 2 July (in consequence of coal shortage) and were superseded after Sunday 9 September.
Some local timetables did appear with the 2 July start date.)
Monday 10 September 1951
Monday 30 June 1952
Monday 15 September 1952
Monday 8 June 1953
Monday 21 September 1953
Monday 14 June 1954
Monday 20 September 1954
Monday 13 June 1955 (other Regions changed to 57/8" x 9" format; Scottish Region transferred from production in conjunction with Thomas Murray & Co Ltd to in conjunction with Henry Blacklock & Co Ltd (as the other Regions except London Midland and North Eastern already were); start day impacted by end of ASLEF strike - Western Region had this printed date but may only have applied from 27 June 1955
Monday 19 September 1955
Monday 11 June 1956
Monday 17 September 1956
Monday 31 December 1956 (Eastern Region Southend routes only)
Monday 17 June 1957
Monday 16 September 1957
Monday 9 June 1958
Monday 15 September 1958
Monday 15 June 1959 (extended beyond original end date because of inability to produce new timetable because of printing industry strike - but subject to end-of-summer amendments from 14 September 1959)
Monday 2 November 1959 (later than usual start date because of printing industry strike)
Monday 13 June 1960
Monday 12 September 1960
Monday 21 November 1960 (Eastern Region Great Eastern Line Chingford, Enfield, Hertford, Bishop's Stortford routes only)
Monday 12 June 1961 (last issues containing statement published in conjunction with Henry Blacklock & Co Ltd, publisher of Bradshaw's Guide - thereafter the remaining Regions fell into line with London Midland and North Eastern Regions in this respect)
Monday 11 September 1961
Monday 18 June 1962 (also first edition of "British Railways - Timetable - Principal Passenger Services in Great Britain" - see footnote)
Monday 10 September 1962
Monday 17 June 1963
Monday 9 September 1963
Monday 15 June 1964 (all Regions; Western Region to 24 hour clock but other Regions still in 12 hour clock; Western Region first annual issue, although re-issued 4 January 1965)
Monday 7 September 1964 (all Regions except Western Region; last biannual issue and last 57/8" x 9" format)
Monday 4 January 1965 (Western Region only - re-issue; 81/16" x 101/8" format)
Monday 14 June 1965 (all Regions; all now 81/16" x 101/8" format, annual issue, 24 hour clock, and style "British Railways" replaced by "British Rail")
Monday 13 September 1965 (North Eastern Region only - headed "Revised")
Monday 18 April 1966 (all Regions; Eastern Region London suburban services again included as well as available separately)
Monday 5 September 1966 (North Eastern Region only)
Monday 6 March 1967 (all Regions except Southern Region)
Monday 10 July 1967 (Southern Region only - to coincide with major service recast)
Monday 4 September 1967 ("North Eastern" and Scottish Regions only; North Eastern book carried orange cover, headed "Eastern Region Timetable - North Eastern England" - thereafter subsumed within Eastern Region book)
Monday 6 May 1968 (all Regions; North Eastern merged into single Eastern Region book but Eastern Region London suburban services again excluded; Southern Region again merged into single book)
Monday 5 May 1969 (all Regions; Southern Region issued both a standard size book and an ABC/Index Printers "A5" size book until both versions superseded by "national" issue from 1974)
Monday 6 October 1969 (Southern Region only)
Monday 4 May 1970
Monday 5 October 1970 (Southern Region only)
Monday 3 May 1971
Monday 1 May 1972
Monday 2 October 1972 (Southern Region only)
Monday 7 May 1973 (all Regions; final regional issues (apart from Southern) and final issue of Eastern Region London suburban books)
Monday 1 October 1973 (Southern Region only)
Monday 6 May 1974 (first "national" issue - see footnote - as Great Britain Passenger Timetable; Eastern Region London suburban services again included as well as available separately)
Monday 5 May 1975
Monday 3 May 1976 (Southern Region services were revised from 20 April 1976)
Monday 2 May 1977
Monday 8 May 1978
Monday 14 May 1979
Monday 12 May 1980 (extended beyond original end date of 10 May 1981 until 31 May 1981)
Monday 1 June 1981
Monday 17 May 1982 (first 55/8" x 81/8" (A5) format)
Monday 16 May 1983
Monday 14 May 1984 (renamed British Rail Passenger Timetable)
Monday 13 May 1985 (last annual issue)
Monday 12 May 1986 (restored biannual issue)
Monday 29 September 1986 (restored 81/16" x 101/8" format)
Monday 11 May 1987
Monday 5 October 1987
Monday 16 May 1988 (restored 55/8" x 81/8" (A5) format)
Monday 3 October 1988
Monday 15 May 1989
Monday 2 October 1989
Monday 14 May 1990
Monday 1 October 1990 (originally intended to expire on 12 May 1991, it was extended - with modifications - to 7 July 1991)
Monday 8 July 1991 (later than usual start date to coincide with East Coast Main Line electrification)
Monday 30 September 1991
Monday 11 May 1992
Monday 28 September 1992
Monday 17 May 1993
Monday 4 October 1993 (last issue with a Monday start day)
Sunday 29 May 1994 (first issue with a Sunday start day; renamed Great Britain Passenger Railway Timetable to reflect the privatisation of the rail industry)
Sunday 25 September 1994
Sunday 28 May 1995
Sunday 24 September 1995
Sunday 14 January 1996
Sunday 2 June 1996
Sunday 29 September 1996
Sunday 1 June 1997
Sunday 28 September 1997
Sunday 24 May 1998
Sunday 27 September 1998
Sunday 30 May 1999 (renamed Great Britain National Rail Passenger Timetable)
Sunday 26 September 1999 (renamed National Rail Timetable - which nation is not specified!)
Sunday 28 May 2000
Sunday 24 September 2000
Sunday 20 May 2001
Sunday 30 September 2001
Sunday 2 June 2002
Sunday 29 September 2002
Sunday 18 May 2003
Sunday 28 September 2003
Sunday 23 May 2004
A timetable supplement was
issued from Monday 27 September 2004, and a number of working timetables were re-issued from
the same date, to cover the transition to the December timetable.
Sunday 12 December 2004 (first issue complying with EC
directive 2002/844/EC for December start date)
Sunday 12 June 2005
Sunday 11 December 2005
Sunday 11 June 2006
Sunday 10 December 2006 (first on-line issue - also available printed)
Sunday 20 May 2007 (final Network Rail-published printed issue - also available on-line)
Sunday 9 December 2007
Sunday 18 May 2008
Sunday 14 December 2008
Sunday 17 May 2009
Sunday 13 December 2009
Sunday 23 May 2010
Sunday 12 December 2010
Sunday 22 May 2011
Sunday 11 December 2011
Monday 14 May 2012
Sunday 9 December 2012
Sunday 19 May 2013
Sunday 8 December 2013 (one week earlier than EC
directive 2002/844/EC required - note: legislation repealed from 16 June 2015)
Sunday 18 May 2014
Sunday 14 December 2014
Sunday 17 May 2015
Sunday 13 December 2015
Sunday 15 May 2016
Sunday 11 December 2016
Sunday 21 May 2017
Sunday 10 December 2017
Sunday 20 May 2018
Sunday 9 December 2018
Sunday 19 May 2019
Sunday 15 December 2019 (subject to considerable upheaval from March 2020 on account of coronavirus pandemic)
Sunday 17 May 2020 (subject to considerable upheaval - with virtual re-writes in July and September - on account of coronavirus pandemic)
Sunday 13 December 2020 (no public timetable issued on account of coronavirus pandemic - the first time no national timetable was published since 1839)
Sunday 16 May 2021
Sunday 12 December 2021
Sunday 15 May 2022
Sunday 11 December 2022
Sunday 21 May 2023
Bradshaw's Official British Railways Guide - published commercially by Henry Blacklock & Co Ltd - expired with final issue no.1521 (although it was actually only the 1421st. issue), dated 1 May to 11 June 1961.
The first British Railways' attempt at an all-Regional timetable (albeit only principal services) was issued for June 1962 as "British Railways - Timetable - Principal Passenger Services in Great Britain"; four editions appeared, the last expiring in June 1964. This was a precursor of the 81/16" x 101/8" format, later adopted for all the Regional timetables.
From the issues dated Monday 14 June 1965, "British Railways" was replaced by "British Rail".
The first railway-published (as opposed to commercially published) passenger timetable for the whole British Railways network (rather than just of principal services) was dated 6 May 1974; it comprised 1347 pages and cost GBP 0.50 (50 new pence). The cover was red and white and had a drawing of a London Midland Region electric train. The introduction stated that "This is the first issue of British Rail's new All System Timetable. It replaces the five existing Regional Timetables and offers, in addition, an International section providing a summary of cross-Channel services by sea, hovercraft and air, to France, Belgium and the Netherlands, together with details of principal International Express and train services to selected main centres." Note (i) the Eastern Region's two separate suburban timetables were also replaced by this volume, and (ii) the international section had different starting dates (to tally with continental practice) but did not survive.
The final railway-published passenger timetable for the whole British railway network was dated 20 May 2007, published by Network Rail on behalf of the industry, bearing a roundel reading "Final printed edition" on cover and containing a foreword from the Chairman of the National Railway Timetable Policy Board.
From the timetable period starting 9 December 2007, the timetable pages - under heading electronic National Rail Timetable (e-NRT), in the same format as the final printed version - have been made available by the railway industry itself only on line, in .pdf format on Network Rail's website. From 15 May 2016, Network Rail's electronic version (e-NRT) has been the only available complete timetable for their network. After the May 2015 edition this has contained no system map, and after the May 2017 edition the schematic maps accompanying each table disappeared, too, so there is now no mapping incorporated in the volume.
This version - in dowloadable pdf format - is still available from the Network Rail website.
From 9 December 2007, two privately published printed versions of the timetable pages appeared:
UK Rail Timetable excluding Northern Ireland (this clumsy title was altered to GB Rail Timetable from 17 May 2009), published at each half-yearly timetable change - published by TSO (The Stationery Office Ltd). The final issue from this publisher was that for 8 December 2013, bearing wording "Final edition" on its cover.
Rail Times for Great Britain, initially published monthly, but soon restricted to each half-yearly timetable change - published by Middleton Press.
From the 15 May 2016 edition, this was available only by pre-publication order. From the same date, an abridged version - Britain's Rail Times for principal stations on Main Lines and Rural Routes was published but was discontinued after the December 2017 edition.
(During the period both versions were published, their titles were amended to Comprehensive Rail Times.... and Abridged Rail Times.... respectively.)
The final issue of the main title itself was that for 19 December 2019, bearing wording "Final edition" on its cover. This brought to an end
the period during which there has been a printed national railway timetable for Great Britain - since George Bradshaw's first attempts in October 1839 (he first claimed 'national' coverage of Great Britain with his December 1841 edition).
Rail Timetables Ltd were planning some less-than-national timetables from 2008 but they were never published. Despite the efforts of the train operating companies to persuade customers to use their websites for information, they have - with the exception of TfL Rail (precursor to Crossrail as operator of the Liverpool Street - Shenfield local services and which does not produce a printed version of their timetable) - continued to produce timetable leaflets and, in some cases, complete timetables for all their own routes.
Fabrik Communications have produced a Great
Britain Rail Timetable (GBRT) trial version based on Network Rail's mid-May 2021 data, with the aim to launch a 'live' version by December. It has a new table structure (though still working anticlockwise round London) with more days-sets and also using colour for dated trains. Observers have judged it to be wholly accurate (as at May 2021) which cannot be said for Network Rail's e-NRT. The timetable is available for download at www.fabdigital.uk/gbrtv1.
Acknowledgements to Dr John V Gough for information about earlier issues.
An earlier version of this paper also appeared in Railway and Canal Historical Society Railway Chronology Group Co-ordinating
Newsletter no. 46, April 2006.
Visit the associated page A brief history of the National Rail timetable and its predecessors
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