Railtrack timetable set to become pulp fiction

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The Independent Online

Railtrack will decide later this week whether to pulp 80,000 copies of the national railway timetable because of a series of mistakes that have already led to 300 pages of amendments being issued.

Railtrack, which has just taken over publication of the 2,100-page Great Britain Passenger Railway Timetable from British Rail, has already had to issue a 57-page supplement and a 246-page second supplement to correct errors. Last night a Railtrack spokesman said errors had been uncovered in the second supplement and "pulping the whole lot and starting again is an option we are considering".

About 44,000 of the pounds 7.50 timetable are sold to the public while 33,000 are distributed for internal use and a further 4,500 loose-leaf versions are used at booking offices.

According to Phil Wilks, spokesman for ruc, the passengers' official watchdog, "while there are errors throughout the country, the worst bit is a whole section of the original timetable, dealing with both suburban and Interity trains out of Paddington, which seems to be entirely wrong". He cites errors such as trains that apparently collide on the route from Waterloo to Exeter.

Mr Wilks said that if a third supplement had to be issued, it would render the timetable unusable: "You would need a holdall to carry it round. People would have to look in the book and three supplements to find whether their train was running. That's madness and they should reprint it." Mr Wilks has already discovered errors in the second supplement, such as trains that appear on one page but disappear before they get to their destination.

Barry Doe, a timetable expert and consultant, said: "I have timetables going back to the 1950s and this is by far the worst I have ever seen."

Dear Bob Horton, Section Two