A new European Rail Timetable book, published this month to replace the version produced for 140 years by Thomas Cook, has sold out in days.

The red timetable is being produced by the same team that worked for Thomas Cook, led by John Potter.

He lost the job he loved when Thomas Cook ceased publishing the timetable last year, but he remortgaged his house and spent most of his redundancy cheque buying the rights to republish the timetables.

Mr Potter told the BBC he knows his venture is a bit of a gamble but added: "Although Thomas Cook's guidebooks were loss-making, the timetables themselves seemed to be making enough of a return for me to make a go of it.

"I just said to the other chaps, 'Do you want to carry on?' Most said 'Yes', so they have come on board either full or part-time."

Pre-orders of the new edition have been promising, partly because travellers know that, although online timetables are available, data roaming costs are prohibitive.

With a timetable book, changes of itinerary can also be made more easily when things go wrong.

Mark Smith, who runs the award-winning website seat61.com, welcomes the rescue of the printed timetable. He said: “The internet is great but the trouble is that you have to make repeated inquiries, each for specific dates.

"It's like looking at a large scale map through the wrong end of a telescope. You really need to have it all laid out in front of you in printed form.”

He cites the example of the Paris-Moscow express and added: "It runs three times a week in winter, but five times a week in summer. Pretty easy to find in the book, but if you inquired online and picked the wrong day, you might not find it at all.”

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Guardian report

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