How are railway network maps created (in computer software)?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by user1234, 5 Nov 2018.

  1. user1234

    user1234 Member

    Messages:
    12
    Joined:
    29 Sep 2018
    Can anyone tell me how railway maps are made? I am mainly talking about network maps like these for example:

    http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/static/documents/content/routemaps/nationalrailoperatorsmapzoom57.pdf

    http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/nationalrailroutemap_allstations.pdf

    http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/London_South_East_0518-b.pdf

    http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/London_Rail_Tube_0518_v2.pdf

    How exactly are they made? What program or software is used? Could an ordinary person like myself easily create a map like these or do you have to work in the railway industry and have experience to know how to create these?

    I am quite interested in maps and i would quite like to have a go and try and create some like these for various different networks in the UK and in other countries. Any information regarding this is appreciated.

    Many thanks.
     
  2. Registered users do not see these banners - join or log in today!

    Rail Forums

     
  3. DJames

    DJames Member

    Messages:
    115
    Joined:
    22 Jan 2017
    Location:
    Tipton
    They are likely made in Adobe Illustrator, or some other vector drawing program. There are bound to be tutorials on YouTube for regular maps and ones like these.

    If you just want to give it a try and you don't want to spend a lot of cash on the Adobe suite, Inkscape is a free alternative that would work. There should also be some tutorials on YouTube for that.
     
  4. Intermodal

    Intermodal Member

    Messages:
    745
    Joined:
    3 Nov 2010
    Location:
    The North East
    Nothing is out of reach. Anyone is capable of reaching their goals. Never give up, never let yourself deny the opportunity - always give it your best shot. I believe in you. Godspeed user1234.
     
  5. GatwickDepress

    GatwickDepress Established Member

    Messages:
    1,987
    Joined:
    14 Jan 2013
    Location:
    Milton Keynes
    The Transit Map Tumblr blog has a good few tutorials and the FAQ talks about software used:

     
  6. Malcolmffc

    Malcolmffc Member

    Messages:
    185
    Joined:
    19 Mar 2017
    They are generated from data in Network Rail’s timetabling system, which contains detailed information on how the network is linked together. A dump from this is available as part of NR Open Data (though you would need some decent programming skills to do anything useful with it)
     
  7. pdeaves

    pdeaves Established Member

    Messages:
    1,504
    Joined:
    14 Sep 2014
    Location:
    Gateway to the South West
    You could use a CAD package. The diagrams are just straight lines with curved connectors.
     
  8. Doctor Fegg

    Doctor Fegg Member

    Messages:
    697
    Joined:
    9 Nov 2010
    No, they aren't. All four maps cited by the OP are done manually with a vector drawing program, almost certainly Illustrator. Label placement and generalisation algorithms are not advanced enough to produce anything like the cartographic quality of the London/South-East maps (...I'll reserve judgement on the quality of the Project Mapping ones ;) ). I'd suggest you download Mapnik and have a play if you genuinely think you can create a data-driven equivalent of the London/South-East maps!

    OP - if you don't want to fork out for Illustrator, then Inkscape (free) is a passable alternative. It has a rather clunky UI but all the core functionality you'd need is there. Corel Draw and Affinity Designer are moderately low-cost options.

    Richard (professional cartographer inter alia)
     
  9. jha4ceb

    jha4ceb Member

    Messages:
    73
    Joined:
    10 Jun 2011
    Just wanted to add another vote for Inkscape as a free option. It can be clunky, but with some work you can produce decent-looking work. I have no professional experience in this area but managed use Inkscape to make an ok-looking map for a fantasy transport sim project earlier this year.
     
  10. MarkyT

    MarkyT Established Member

    Messages:
    2,927
    Joined:
    20 May 2012
    Location:
    Torbay
    Another free vector editor worth considering is the draw application within LibreOffice.
     
  11. trash80

    trash80 Member

    Messages:
    949
    Joined:
    18 Aug 2015
    Location:
    Birmingham
    The diagrams are quite simple if you think about it, just a load of basic shapes. Illustrator is usually used for this kind of thing though i've done similar using apps like Photoshop and Hippani. Could even do it in Paint if you wanted though you'd probably quickly lose the will to live.
     
  12. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

    Messages:
    19,207
    Joined:
    12 Oct 2010
    Location:
    Work - Fenny Stratford(MK) Home - Darlington
    surely it is just a line diagram superimposed on an outline map of the UK.
     
  13. alex17595

    alex17595 Member

    Messages:
    943
    Joined:
    15 Mar 2013
    Location:
    Burton on Trent
    I had a crack at making a couple of basic line maps with some free trial software. I think it came out fairly well, I did one of the RhB and the Matterhorn Gottard bahn as well which came out a little better.

    WHL map.png

    (Yes there are some spelling errors!)
     
  14. trash80

    trash80 Member

    Messages:
    949
    Joined:
    18 Aug 2015
    Location:
    Birmingham
    Thats pretty nice, what s/w did you use?
     
  15. alex17595

    alex17595 Member

    Messages:
    943
    Joined:
    15 Mar 2013
    Location:
    Burton on Trent
    It was Edraw max I think. Here is my RhB one which is a little more complicated.
    rhbmap.png
     
  16. pdeaves

    pdeaves Established Member

    Messages:
    1,504
    Joined:
    14 Sep 2014
    Location:
    Gateway to the South West
    General point in terms of creating a pleasing visual: stick with either angles or curves to change direction, but not a mix!
     
  17. user1234

    user1234 Member

    Messages:
    12
    Joined:
    29 Sep 2018
    Thanks for the replies. That is very helpful.

    I think i may purchase Adobe Illustrator and have a go. Although it is quite expensive it is probably worth it as it sounds like it is the best one. I am looking here - https://www.adobe.com/uk/creativecloud/plans.html?single_app=illustrator&promoid=J469WX8G&mv=other - and wondering which one is the best to purchase? I am thinking just the "Single App" would be fine? I presume that none of the other programs are required to make Adobe Illustrator work?

    I may have a go on Inkscape and some of the other free ones as well. I see that Adobe Illustrator also has an offer of a free trial.

    From reading the links you have all provided it does look rather complicated. Especially as there are not that many tutorials on how to get started for beginners. Although i am sure it will get easier once you gain more experience. I suppose it will involve a lot of trial and error to get the right result.
     
  18. trash80

    trash80 Member

    Messages:
    949
    Joined:
    18 Aug 2015
    Location:
    Birmingham
    Try Inkscape first as it's not a bad program and might be all you need, Illustrator is more powerful but isn't cheap. If you do go for the latter i recommend you get some online training in it too (as i am myself at the moment in fact) as Illustrator is a bit daunting when you start.
     
  19. alex17595

    alex17595 Member

    Messages:
    943
    Joined:
    15 Mar 2013
    Location:
    Burton on Trent
    I was limited to pre made shapes. I agree it does look really bad, lucky Im not a professional graphic designer.
     
  20. alex17595

    alex17595 Member

    Messages:
    943
    Joined:
    15 Mar 2013
    Location:
    Burton on Trent
    I redownloaded the program and had one more crack at it. Not really sure how to show Thurso correctly.


    farnorthmap.png
     
  21. gazthomas

    gazthomas Established Member

    Messages:
    2,203
    Joined:
    5 Jun 2011
    Location:
    St. Albans
    To me it is really important to have some relationship to geography, Wick being to the left of Thurso is very confusing for me. It ceases to be a map and more a diagram
     
  22. alex17595

    alex17595 Member

    Messages:
    943
    Joined:
    15 Mar 2013
    Location:
    Burton on Trent
    I don't want it to be completely huge which is what it would be with the Kyle line going off to the left. It could work going right between Forsinard and Altnabreac


    Edit: Is this one any better?

    farnorth2.png
     
    Last edited: 7 Nov 2018
  23. Class 403

    Class 403 Member

    Messages:
    687
    Joined:
    30 Jun 2018
    My question is how are maps like Open Train Times and Traksy actually made? Are they made using software mentioned above?
     
  24. Peter Mugridge

    Peter Mugridge Established Member

    Messages:
    9,399
    Joined:
    8 Apr 2010
    Location:
    Epsom
    Yes - that's much better.
     
  25. gazthomas

    gazthomas Established Member

    Messages:
    2,203
    Joined:
    5 Jun 2011
    Location:
    St. Albans
    I definitely prefer this one!
     
  26. JonathanP

    JonathanP Member

    Messages:
    113
    Joined:
    1 Aug 2008
    Location:
    Berlin, Germany
    Yes, possibly.

    The maps on both sites are encoded in SVG format, which is a way of describing a diagram using text/XML. This is one of the formats that can be exported by vector drawing software such as Inkscape and Illustrator.
    The SVG is embedded as part of the web page, and can then be modified 'live' using scripts to insert headcodes in the appropriate places.

    Whether the authors of the sites drew the maps by hand, or generated them automatically I cannot tell, but since the maps are highly simplistic and repetitive, and need to be kept 'in sync' with the software that updates them with live data I suspect the latter.
     
  27. user1234

    user1234 Member

    Messages:
    12
    Joined:
    29 Sep 2018
    So i have downloaded Inkscape for free but i have no idea where to start. It looks very complicating and i can't seem to work out what i have to do to create the lines and dots and everything. Does anyone know how to get started? What are the basics to making a simple network map on this software?
     

Share This Page