This autumn sees the publication of new editions of two books which will surely encourage readers to explore Europe by train in 2018.
European Railway Atlas
Mike Ball’s new edition of his European Railway Atlas is billed as a “concise edition” but it still runs to over 170 pages, with 122 pages of colour maps showing the entire rail network of Europe west of the Russian Federation. Its coverage thus includes the British Isles and all of continental Europe as far east as St Petersburg, eastern Ukraine and the entire Balkan region. Those Mediterranean islands which have railways are also included.
Mike has been mapping the railways of Europe for 30 years. “I started in the days before personal computers and the internet,” he recalls. “At that time there was nothing to help enthusiasts make sense of the mysterious and confusing geography of Europe’s dense railway network with all its track gauges, electrification systems, thousands of stations and hundreds of heritage lines.”
The latest edition of the European Railway Atlas was published in September; it maps and indexes about 23,000 locations across Europe. It includes almost all passenger railways as well as many routes reserved for freight — carefully distinguishing between the two of course. This is a real labour of love, but it is also immensely engaging. Witness the care that’s gone into such detailed explanatory notes as the one advising that the branch line to Levoča (in Slovakia) only has passenger trains on the first weekend in July each year, or the cautionary reminder that although Andermatt lies immediately above the Gotthard Tunnel, Andermatt is not served by trains running through that tunnel.