Beginner help - where I can find a useful route map of the rail network and identify trains at the platform?

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miklcct

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I live in an area served by Southwestern but I can't find a useful route map which shows all the services the company is running. What is shown here is basically useless for planning as it doesn't show the actual routes and stops which the trains run. I can't know if I can take an express direct train, a stopping train or I need to make a transfer at a certain station by reading the map.

The timetables are confusing as well. They have trains stopping differently mixed into a timetable but they don't have any identifiers for a particular stopping pattern.

On the platform, there is only the time and the destination shown, and below the first train, a small line showing some calling stations. But I can't see if a train calls at all intermediate stations. This can be troublesome if I am taking a train to a minor station which only some of the services call at.

Frankly this rail system is the most difficult to use in every developed country I have travelled to. In all other countries I have visited there is a route number on every train which can easily be searched, with different letter prefixes specifying different stopping patterns (e.g. express or local).

How can I find a route map showing the services and stopping patterns of trains on the railway?
 
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30907

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The timetables are confusing as well. They have trains stopping differently mixed into a timetable but they don't have any identifiers for a particular stopping pattern.
Welcome to the forum! This is a topic much discussed over the years, so I won't start now - but UK convention is to use the departure time and final destination as the identifier.
On the platform, there is only the time and the destination shown, and below the first train, a small line showing some calling stations. But I can't see if a train calls at all intermediate stations.
I'm surprised at this - most displays these days scroll through all the stops.
How can I find a route map showing the services and stopping patterns of trains on the railway?
You can't, I'm afraid :(
The basic reason is that service patterns in many areas are very complicated (some might say over-complicated, but that's another issue).
A map for Bournemouth to Southampton would be easy enough to do (there are only 4 basic hourly services) - but you can tell that from a pdf timetable, so it doesn't add much.
But a simple stretch like Basingstoke to Farnborough would need 7 or 8 parallel lines, and inward from Woking there are at least 12 different services in each hourly cycle (a couple are half-hourly), and I think that would be too complicated to be useful as a graphic. (And it wouldn't include all the peak hour variations.)

Sorry to sound negative.
 

miklcct

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I'm surprised at this - most displays these days scroll through all the stops.
I haven't confirmed this yet as I just made my first train trip in the UK, and the first train shown on the platform did not call at any intermediate stations and headed non-stop to the terminal station, which I boarded. But if the train calls at a dozen, or even a few dozens of intermediate stations, it will be a real trouble to read.

The PIDS, if I remember correctly, has a first line showing the first train, a smaller second line showing it was a southwestern service calling at Poole only, and a third line showing the second and the third train alternately.

When I visited Switzerland, the national railway network map was very clear, showing all lines with an identifier, major stations which all trains call at, and minor stations which only some trains call at.
 

AlterEgo

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I haven't confirmed this yet as I just made my first train trip in the UK, and the first train shown on the platform did not call at any intermediate stations and headed non-stop to the terminal station, which I boarded. But if the train calls at a dozen, or even a few dozens of intermediate stations, it will be a real trouble to read.

The PIDS, if I remember correctly, has a first line showing the first train, a smaller second line showing it was a southwestern service calling at Poole only, and a third line showing the second and the third train alternately.

When I visited Switzerland, the national railway network map was very clear, showing all lines with an identifier, major stations which all trains call at, and minor stations which only some trains call at.
There's just no such thing here I'm afraid - the convention is different. There are no public facing train identifiers and as has been explained, trains are referred to as the "[TIME] to [DESTINATION] - calling at [STOPS]".

Most people use journey planners which you might find helpful.
 

181

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This isn't much use to the OP, but some of the old Southern Region numerical headcodes were a bit like 'identifiers for a particular stopping pattern' (something like 93 for a Bournemouth line stopper, 92 for a Bournemouth semi-fast, 91 for a Weymouth train which usually stopped only at Southampton and the airport between Bournemouth and Waterloo). I don't think there was a separate code for every permutation in stopping pattern, though, and most codes primarily identified the route rather than where the train stopped.

A journey planner isn't very helpful for giving an at-a-glance view of the service pattern -- you need a proper timetable (pdf or printed) for that.
 

30907

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I haven't confirmed this yet as I just made my first train trip in the UK, and the first train shown on the platform did not call at any intermediate stations and headed non-stop to the terminal station, which I boarded. But if the train calls at a dozen, or even a few dozens of intermediate stations, it will be a real trouble to read.
It will take some time to read, certainly :(
The PIDS, if I remember correctly, has a first line showing the first train, a smaller second line showing it was a southwestern service calling at Poole only, and a third line showing the second and the third train alternately.
That's standard - though most larger stations have a main entrance giving much fuller detail.
When I visited Switzerland, the national railway network map was very clear, showing all lines with an identifier, major stations which all trains call at, and minor stations which only some trains call at.
Switzerland is an excellent example of a system (much admired on this forum) that has
(1) a completely integrated unvarying interval timetable for which
(2) a substantial increase in infrastructure has been provided to allow it to operate (Zürich has acquired 2 new mainline underground stations and at least 3 new access route in the 50 years I have known the system) and
(3) the state is prepared for social and political to subsidise a very generous provision of local trains which IME (off-season Graubünden) run almost empty.

The map you link only shows in full the top two of 4/5 categories of train and about 1/4 of the stations.
 

LA50041

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I live in an area served by Southwestern but I can't find a useful route map which shows all the services the company is running. What is shown here is basically useless for planning as it doesn't show the actual routes and stops which the trains run. I can't know if I can take an express direct train, a stopping train or I need to make a transfer at a certain station by reading the map.

The timetables are confusing as well. They have trains stopping differently mixed into a timetable but they don't have any identifiers for a particular stopping pattern.

On the platform, there is only the time and the destination shown, and below the first train, a small line showing some calling stations. But I can't see if a train calls at all intermediate stations. This can be troublesome if I am taking a train to a minor station which only some of the services call at.

Frankly this rail system is the most difficult to use in every developed country I have travelled to. In all other countries I have visited there is a route number on every train which can easily be searched, with different letter prefixes specifying different stopping patterns (e.g. express or local).

How can I find a route map showing the services and stopping patterns of trains on the railway?
not a map, but if you are on the platform and have a smatphone you could use something like www.realtimetrains.co.uk or www.opentraintimes.com which will show all departures and the intermediate stations called at. Open train times also shows live signalling maps if that is your interest
 
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Someone on this forum made a map exactly as you describe, but I can’t seem to find the thread. It showed general stopping patterns and frequencies, with solid lines for hourly services and dashed lines for less frequent ones I think. It was a very good map.

However, frequencies, stopping patterns and destinations change throughout the day to reflect demand (especially during the peaks) and due to limitations on single track lines etc, so such a map can show only general, off peak frequencies and stopping patterns.

Its also worth remembering that covid is currently affecting the timetables, so they are less frequent, and change more often, than usual.
 

Peter749

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If you have your mobile phone National Rail Enq is an easy way of working out a journey between two stations
It also shows how well the train is running and which platform at larger stations it would depart from

Peter
 

PTR 444

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Someone on this forum made a map exactly as you describe, but I can’t seem to find the thread. It showed general stopping patterns and frequencies, with solid lines for hourly services and dashed lines for less frequent ones I think. It was a very good map.

However, frequencies, stopping patterns and destinations change throughout the day to reflect demand (especially during the peaks) and due to limitations on single track lines etc, so such a map can show only general, off peak frequencies and stopping patterns.

Its also worth remembering that covid is currently affecting the timetables, so they are less frequent, and change more often, than usual.
The link to the map is here:

It’s out of date now but the general stopping pattern for most services on the map are still existent. This may not be of any use to the OP but I do find it very useful when planning timetables for the speculative ideas section of this forum.
 

30907

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The link to the map is here:

It’s out of date now but the general stopping pattern for most services on the map are still existent. This may not be of any use to the OP but I do find it very useful when planning timetables for the speculative ideas section of this forum.
That is impressive stuff (I'll keep the one I've just downloaded and - covid changes apart - is a good enough guide for the OP (for Mondays to Fridays offpeak).
About the only thing you can't see is where it makes sense to change trains for a faster journey (I mention this as it is relevant to the OP on the Bournemouth line) - but that's not its aim.
The diagram is complex enough as it is, which I think bears out my original point that it is (inevitably, not a criticism) a bit too complicated to be useful for day-to-day purposes.
 

miklcct

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