An Art Gallery in Your Pocket (timetable covers, Tandem Design, UK)

Two short entries this week, rather than one longer entry.

First up, a return visit to the subject of transport timetables.

One of the great joys of writing this blog is that occasionally I get the chance to find out who was responsible for a great piece of transport design, and hopefully make them a little better-known. Sometimes they’re near-forgotten names from yesteryear, sometimes they’re one of the hard-working firms out there now making the world a more beautiful place through their work in the transport industry. This is one of the latter.

You might remember me getting a bee in my bonnet a few months ago on the subject of public transport timetable leaflets. Although useful, they don’t often look very attractive, and as such I thought transport operators were missing a trick. More attractive timetable leaflets might get picked up more often, and once someone has a timetable, they’re more likely to consider using public transport (I would have thought, anyway).

I was particularly enthusiastic about the timetables of south of England train operator South West Trains. The new winter timetable for the British railway network came into force a few days ago, and new timetables have been issued. You will be glad to know that once again, those from South West Trains are particularly attractive. Here are three from the latest selection, which I picked up the other day. The deckchair is cheering me up considerably during the grey, wet, English winter.

A selection of timetables from South West Trains' December 2013 range. Cover illustrations are by Tandem Design.
A selection of timetables from South West Trains’ December 2013 range. Cover illustrations are by Tandem Design.

The detail on Salisbury Cathedral (leaflet 20) is just sublime, while if you look carefully at leaflet 28, you’ll find a paddle steamer docked alongside the pier.

After my earlier post, I got a Tweet from Tandem Design of Southampton, UK, which turns out to be the graphic design company responsible for the front covers of the South West Trains timetables. You can see a selection of others via their Portfolio page here (scroll down until you find the South West Trains Design for Print section or just click here to get to the gallery directly). The company has done quite a lot of poster work for South West Trains too, including some simply gorgeous illustrations of destinations, reminiscent of railway posters of the early to mid twentieth century (the same portfolio page, but this time you want the Transport Illustration gallery, images 4, 5 and 6). The company’s work for Isle of Wight-based bus operator Southern Vectis (see it here, especially the first image in the gallery) also provides the bus industry with a rare example of an attractive timetable booklet that might conceivably catch the eye of passers-by and generate some discretionary travel.

So – a big thank you to Tandem Design for brightening up the world of transport, and to the transport operators which have commissioned the company, for having the attention to detail to do so. These timetable leaflets not only tell you how to get to places, but their front covers show why you might want to go there in the first place.

Too many transport operators are still wedded to the idea that a list of destinations or possibly a line diagram is all that is necessary on the front of a timetable, as though their existing or indeed potential customers don’t need or deserve anything nicer. And I still don’t understand why.

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