It is that time of year when we start to look ahead to next year's train timetables. To British readers, this will doubtless sound truly eccentric, but just look at German-speaking countries where the weekend of the Große Fahrplanwechsel (the Great Timetable Change) is eagerly anticipated by both the media and the public. Sunday 14 December is the big day this year. For weeks now in our home city of Berlin there has been media tittle-tattle about what we might expect for 2009, but folk at Deutsche Bahn play their cards pretty close to their chest when it comes to releasing details about what changes we might look for in the new schedules. Not so the organised Swiss who published a 2009 rail timetable preview way back last spring.
The December Sunday, when all we have come to know and love suddenly changes, is an important day in the civic calendar. And it is a Europe-wide feast of uncertainty, as new schedules are introduced for trains, buses, trams and boats from Brittany to Bavaria.