Is there such a thing as a railway pathing map?

Discussion in 'Allocations, Diagrams & Timetables' started by PTR 444, 14 Jan 2020.

  1. PTR 444

    PTR 444 Member

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    This question has come to my mind since I have become interested in finding out how Railway planners work out paths to slot in future train services, without affecting already existent services. I have always enjoyed sketching up ideas for future train services but have never considered how they would fit in around existing paths because it just takes up too much time with them constantly on the move. It’s like trying to work out the best time to launch a rocket so that the orbits of other planets aid its journey.

    There must be some program out there that lets you choose a time of day then loads a map* of an area showing all tracks, stations and estimated locations of trains at that time. Crayonistas and planners could then use it to work out a path for any new service, which could be done by clicking on the station of origin, before clicking on the next stop in which doing so will show the exact position of other trains at the time the service would be estimated to arrive. This process could then be repeated until the user decides to end the service by clicking on another button.

    If there isn’t already something like this available to the public, I would be very surprised as most things seem to be online now. I’m even sure I once played an online flash game where you had to path trains and stop them at signals to avoid them from crashing.

    * I say map but it would make more sense as a diagram where all lines are angled at 90 degree intervals and there are no non-rail features present, sort of like what rail traffic controllers use.
     
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  3. Indigo2

    Indigo2 Established Member

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  4. Horizon22

    Horizon22 Member

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    I am not sure there is, from my limited experience spent inside a TOC's train planning department. They used Voyager which gives you text based errors and such and I do't think more, but again, my experience is limited. The rail network is not fully modelled in a mapping sense to - in a basic manner - pop in some inputs, program trains and press play and see what happens in real time on a map. The Netherlands recently spent several years doing this for their entire system so it can be done, albeit it at substantial cost and time but it could have major benefits.

    What works on paper in perfect conditions does not always work in the real world as I'm sure many forum users will attest.
     
  5. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    There is another section of the graph above or below, with the junction name repeated at the bottom or top, and then showing the other places on the diverging route. Trains taking that route have a vertical line at the junction to link them across the graph sections.

    There was something called the Capacity Management System in the early 2000s, which encoded all the route details and planning rules and could be used to graph out any part of the network. NR paid for its development but decided to use RailSys instead, I encountered Tracsis still using it a few years later but I don't know if anyone still does. As it was developed by a predecessor of Resonate, I wouldn't be surprised if bits of it found their way into the Traffic Management System they recently implemented at Thames Valley Signalling Centre.
     
  6. pmb

    pmb Member

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    I know it's off topic... but does anyone else find that when they read the quoted sentence in Indigo2's post (number 2), the image below the sentence seems to flash? I find the faster I read it the faster it flashes. Probably due to lots of dark areas being separated by bright lines.
     
    Last edited: 14 Jan 2020
  7. causton

    causton Established Member

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    Doesn't happen for me but can certainly believe it. When I have SimSig open I see a train move in the corner of my eye while looking on the other side of my screen... look up... the game's paused...!
     
  8. Mathew S

    Mathew S Established Member

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    RailSys, TPS, and ATTUne are the three tools that Network Rail use for planning, I believe (I had a visit to their office in Milton Keynes recently which included a demo of said software). Each has various means of displaying paths, and will run simulations of timetables/infrastructure amendments for planning purposes.

    I'm far from an expert - I literally had a 15 minute demo of each of the three applications I named above - but I was hugely impressed by both the software, and the people using it.
     
  9. The Planner

    The Planner Established Member

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    Not heard of that one, we have been using Railsys for performance modelling for donkeys years like you say. TPS cannot integrate planning rules even now which is why Attune is getting some use.
     
  10. PTR 444

    PTR 444 Member

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    That looks very effective! Might have a go at doing one myself for my local main line.

    Also, where there are two separate lines of the same colour, does that mean they are both operated using the same multiple unit/locomotive? Just curious as all lines on the graph seem to form a peak or dip at some point.
     
  11. nedchester

    nedchester Member

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    TPS is the main system that NR use at MK. Like all software it very much depends on the abilities of the person using the system. An understanding of the area being worked upon is necessary to understand how the margins work. Additionally, new services can be accommodated by moving things like pathing time around to give the correct headways and margins but it needs a trained eye to do this.

    As for ATTUne I've found it tends to throw up issues when there isn't one.
     
  12. nedchester

    nedchester Member

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    Not sure why there are so many colours. You'd normally have different colours to show the trains running on different lines (SL/FL) but that's obviously not the case on the Cambrian example given!
     
  13. Spartacus

    Spartacus Established Member

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    Yeah, it seems to be, which is actually unusual as from a planning perspective that info isn't vital, and can be worked out in different ways.

    Normally different colours are reserved for different lines, either SL/FL for example as nedchaster says, diverging routes, sidings (very useful where there's loads of locations in close proximity) or even diversionary routes, so you can see if you're struggling for a path via one if going via the second is a possible option. In the past graphs have included Gainsborough Trent Jn to Barnetby via both Brigg and Lincoln. Differentiating lines can also be done with solid, dotted and dashed lines, and a combination of everything depending on the system so you can see at a glance which sidings might be on the up or down, so it's easy to see if movements conflict. Such ones can look messy at first glance but IF DONE RIGHT should be very easy to use with a basic knowledge of what they're portraying and how, without necessarily knowledge of the railway geography.
     
  14. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    Depends how well set up the rules are for that part of the network. Some areas are more refined than others.

    Coloring by service group / origin-destination pair / timing load etc. can be useful in some circumstances
     
  15. Eloise

    Eloise New Member

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    Long time reader, first time poster...

    Planners will have their own settings on graphs like this, most go for red and green for distinguishing between fast and slow lines. Some don't, some use black and red for fast and slows due to colour blindness, you can have any combination in some systems including dashed --- lines. In some ways the type of unit doesn't need to be known, a decent Planner can tell by either information contained on the graph (headcode), by calling pattern, location or by the angle of the line on the graph which infers speed. Using a graph, signalling diagram and the Timetable Planning Rules you then build up the graph. A lot is done manually by the human eye but software is getting better and better at pinpointing where needs looking at.
     
  16. The Planner

    The Planner Established Member

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    Didnt have the infrastrucure screen in the good old days, and some of us would still say TrainPlan was the business. It was certainly better at graphing! @Ianno87 should agree :lol:
     
  17. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    For Graphing, ATTUne > TrainPlan > TPS. Never quite 'got on' with TPS in all honesty.
     
  18. Spartacus

    Spartacus Established Member

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    TrainPlan all the way! What you couldn't show simply wasn't worth showing. I remember a certain graph of the area around Stourton being a work of art, even showing one shunt that wasn't even in the schedules by careful placement on the graph ;)<:D
     
  19. nedchester

    nedchester Member

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    I'd agree with that TrainPlan is very good.
     
  20. PTR 444

    PTR 444 Member

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    23452D9D-DBE8-4BEE-A720-25FDCC27D6F5.jpeg Here is a train planning graph that I have been working on for the SWML. I find it easier to do this on Adobe Illustrator as it lets you map lines wherever and can snap to a grid as I have done here. Each vertical column represents a time (in minutes, I know it’ll be a massive graph), while the horizontal rows represent stations.

    Colour is key for communication here. In this case, I have used it to differentiate between fast (red/blue) and stopping services (Orange/turquoise) heading in opposite directions. I have considered using it in other ways though, such as showing different passenger TOC/freight operators, or communicating which track a service is on at that time. The idea is that no two lines of the same colour cross over each other.

    It’s a long way off completion but as I add more services to this diagram, I intend to denote intermediate stations with a circle, termini with a square and triangles to denote that a service continues on a different line. At this point however, I really like it and it’s interesting to see how gaps close between fast and stopping services, most notable at Brockenhurst where the westbound Poole terminator waits for nearly half an hour.
     

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