hidden europe 29

Timetable interludes

by Nicky Gardner

Picture above: Image © Scott Rothstein / dreamstime.com

Summary

Imagine an airport that every single week closes down for a long weekend. Or an airline that observes the sabbath, and leaves its planes grounded. Such curiosities really do exist.

We have recently become fans of an organisation of whose existence we were until a year or two back utterly unaware. Here’s to the men who run the Rabbinical Transportation Committee. We guess they must all be men who sit on this august body and deliberate on the evils of modern transport. The guys at the Rabbinical Transportation Committee, if they had their way, would have a ban on in-flight films (‘evil content’, they say), an embargo on sabbath flights and segregated seating on buses — a cunning ploy to stop married couples sitting next to each other.

I would not speak lightly of Sunday travelling. It robs my fellow-creatures of part at least of their day of rest. I never was in a railway train but once — a few minutes before midnight, when I started from the Continent on a nineteen hours' journey for home. I have only twice been in a cab on the Sabbath.

From a collection of speeches and tracts in the volume ‘Permanent Obligation of the Sabbath’ published in Glasgow in 1866.

We have been told that the Israeli airline El Al never takes to the skies between sundown on Friday until late Saturday evening, and this seems to be borne out by a quick look at the airline’s autumn schedules. Full marks to El Al for keeping one day a week flight-free. We personally think this is a practice that could be emulated by others — and not just out of respect for the sabbath.

It was with some sadness that we noted a month or two back that Scottish ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne has dropped its longstanding ban on running Sunday ferry services to Stornoway on the Hebridean island of Lewis. Evidently, CalMac started providing sabbath services from Ullapool to Stornoway in mid July and intend to maintain the Sunday service through the upcoming winter months. The local Free Presbyterians in Stornoway are predictably none too keen on this innovation, but clearly they don’t have as much clout with CalMac as the Rabbinical Transportation Committee has with El Al.

Related blog post

Escape from the world: the fascination of islands

What is it about islands that so powerfully fuels our imagination? Paul Scraton ponders the question while on an excursion off to the Farne Islands. In his bag is a trio of island-themed articles published in hidden europe magazine of which the full text is made available on this website today.

Related article

Making Tracks for Sweden

As winter slipped slowly into spring in 1917, Lenin passed through Berlin on his journey back to Russia from Switzerland. His onward route from Berlin took him by train to Sassnitz, then on by ferry to Trelleborg in Sweden. These days it's still possible to follow the route taken by Lenin, using the occasional direct trains from Berlin to Sweden.

Related article

An Essex backwater: Discovering Harwich

The old town of Harwich, a port in the county of Essex on England's North Sea coast, is tucked away on the end of a peninsula. Maritime connections have shaped the development of Harwich. It's a place for sea breezes, rock oysters and watching the ferries come and go.