RealTimeTrains website

samuelmorris

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The comment above from the site's operator was that there are no plans for any other TOC to make the information available.

https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/realtimetrains-website.189152/page-12#post-4477901

There is an (informed) comment on another forum that some TOC operators think RTT gives away too much information already.
I'd be curious to know which operators they are. It's an understandable viewpoint, but I think it's the wrong mentality. Apart from risks of vandalism I can't see the benefit of withholding information like that unless it adds to their staff workload, in which case it's obviously going to be a struggle to get TOCs to approve it.
 
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Roger B

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No, they haven't. For freight operator services, we are showing allocations only for services operated by GB Railfreight. You may well find, from time to time, locomotives showing that are not owned/normally operated by GBRf but that does not mean it is not a GBRf service. There is also, of course, operator error with entering schedules making a train look as if it is operated by someone else which may result in interesting outputs when combined with other feeds.


I'm open to discussions with any of the passenger operators who may wish to publish this data on RTT.
About the only possible downside I can think of, is that it helps those in the 'know' sometimes to skip queues and bag a good seat - especially at places like Euston, where unbooked table seats, forward facing, with a window alongside, are very few - and often only in the unbooked carriage. If you don't know which platform it's boarding from, you haven't got a chance. TOCs may view passengers boarding early as an inconvenience or getting in the way of train preparation. Although I can't see why - I've never had any negative comments from train managers or train preparation staff. I'm always courteous to staff who clean and tidy-away the less left behind on our trains and stations, and often thank them for their efforts - it's so easy to take what these people (often on low wages) do for granted. And I often find other people boarding ahead of time - particularly regulars taking a gamble that their train will be on the platform it usually leaves from.

There's a solution available to TOCs that don't want people boarding early - don't open the gate line. I'm happy to be the first in queue at the gateline - that way I still get to be one of the first on board, bagging a decent seat.
 

samuelmorris

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About the only possible downside I can think of, is that it helps those in the 'know' sometimes to skip queues and bag a good seat - especially at places like Euston, where unbooked table seats, forward facing, with a window alongside, are very few - and often only in the unbooked carriage. If you don't know which platform it's boarding from, you haven't got a chance. TOCs may view passengers boarding early as an inconvenience or getting in the way of train preparation. Although I can't see why - I've never had any negative comments from train managers or train preparation staff. I'm always courteous to staff who clean and tidy-away the less left behind on our trains and stations, and often thank them for their efforts - it's so easy to take what these people (often on low wages) do for granted. And I often find other people boarding ahead of time - particularly regulars taking a gamble that their train will be on the platform it usually leaves from.

There's a solution available to TOCs that don't want people boarding early - don't open the gate line. I'm happy to be the first in queue at the gateline - that way I still get to be one of the first on board, bagging a decent seat.
I boarded a train once at York off the back of RTT information and been told to get off until they finished cleaning it, so I usually stand beside the train at the coach I want to get on but wait for the train to be displayed on the screens before actually boarding now. This still puts me in front of the people who have to move across from the concourse, but seems more polite. That said, it doesn't always work - doing this at St Pancras on a Sheffield service (during ECML disruption) the train was full and standing before it was displayed. Not a fun 2h30 journey that followed!
 

hwl

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The biggest issue for more coverage is presumably that very few TOCs have complete GPS feed coverage for their units into data systems that then feed into Darwin etc. hence too much manual work to produce data feeds till this happens?

Scotrail being ahead on the GPS datafeed front are able to do this easily.
 

takno

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I boarded a train once at York off the back of RTT information and been told to get off until they finished cleaning it, so I usually stand beside the train at the coach I want to get on but wait for the train to be displayed on the screens before actually boarding now. This still puts me in front of the people who have to move across from the concourse, but seems more polite. That said, it doesn't always work - doing this at St Pancras on a Sheffield service (during ECML disruption) the train was full and standing before it was displayed. Not a fun 2h30 journey that followed!
I've known people end up sitting on the wrong train after a last-minute unit swap as well, and missing their train or having a last-minute run across the station as a result. Personally I tend not to use the information for anything more than being in the vicinity of the right platform.

Honestly I'm really not keen on people using the signalling data to get in the way of operational staff and bag seats ahead of potentially vulnerable people. Different people view the issue diffierently though, and I can't see a way of providing the maps without it
 

Muzer

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The biggest issue for more coverage is presumably that very few TOCs have complete GPS feed coverage for their units into data systems that then feed into Darwin etc. hence too much manual work to produce data feeds till this happens?

Scotrail being ahead on the GPS datafeed front are able to do this easily.
If it used GPS, how would this work for services hours in advance, eg https://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/train/G25139/2020-03-10/detailed ?
 

XC victim

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I generally only use RealTimeTrains to check that a service is running to time and not cancelled. It does also give you catering information that is not generally available. For departure platform I would always use PIS at the station, as they are generally more up to date than RTT with regard to platform alterations.

What I do find annoying is that at my local station (Banbury) they don’t often have the train formation info (ie number of carriages and position of first class)
 

samuelmorris

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I've known people end up sitting on the wrong train after a last-minute unit swap as well, and missing their train or having a last-minute run across the station as a result. Personally I tend not to use the information for anything more than being in the vicinity of the right platform.

Honestly I'm really not keen on people using the signalling data to get in the way of operational staff and bag seats ahead of potentially vulnerable people. Different people view the issue diffierently though, and I can't see a way of providing the maps without it
Common sense need be applied. Does the PIS indicate the train is going where I think it is? How about the platform outside? How about manual announcements? If any of these contradict what I expect then I will immediately try and find out what is right / take action accordingly. Being on the wrong train because a third party website got it wrong is no excuse if accurate information was provided. Being on the wrong train because the station had no displays at the far end of a platform, the train had the PIS disabled and manual announcements were not made, as has happened to me, however, is entirely not the passenger's fault :D

Arguably the biggest boon of this is not the specific unit data, but the number of coaches - that's really useful to know beforehand as never mind getting the specific unit or class of unit you want, if the train is shorter than you expect and it's a busy platform, standing in the wrong place may result in you not travelling, full stop as you might not be able to fit on it if you're last in the queue from having had to jog halfway back down the platform.
 

greatkingrat

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Is the information "live" or uploaded based on the booked diagrams at the start of the day? If there is a set swap at some point during the day, will that get picked up by RTT automatically?
 

Muzer

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Is the information "live" or uploaded based on the booked diagrams at the start of the day? If there is a set swap at some point during the day, will that get picked up by RTT automatically?
This has been asked elsewhere. The answer was that the updates come hourly, so depending on how short notice the set swap is you may or may not find out before departure.
 

bnsf734

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Looking tonight out of Glasgow and Edinburgh there are more classes now shown: Its not 100% on the classes below, but getting there.

New classes:
156 (some but not all yet)
170
318
320
334

An excellent innovation, many thanks to Scotrail and Tom.
 

Bletchleyite

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I've known people end up sitting on the wrong train after a last-minute unit swap as well, and missing their train or having a last-minute run across the station as a result. Personally I tend not to use the information for anything more than being in the vicinity of the right platform.
Happened to me once only ever - once the platform goes bold at Euston it's near 100% reliable.

Honestly I'm really not keen on people using the signalling data to get in the way of operational staff and bag seats ahead of potentially vulnerable people. Different people view the issue diffierently though, and I can't see a way of providing the maps without it
Staff really don't like it being used in my observation, even if you're not in the way at all e.g. standing on the relevant Euston ramp or by the Paddington barriers. However I'm happy to use it because I think the practice of suppressing platforms on local services at Euston and the scrum it causes is both archaic and dangerous (and far more disadvantageous to the vulnerable than the odd person using RTT). If you don't want me on the platform, put the effort in and close the platform gate, and I'll wait by that in a civilised queue, like it should be. And 8-11 are publically accessible at all times whether I happen to be boarding the next train or not, anyway, as LO platforms are not suppressed and the platforms have waiting facilities.

Even before RTT I tended to learn platforms for many trains (once the VHF timetable came in they became very consistent) and used the arrivals board to make educated guesses for others.

Oh, and I'd be less inclined to use it if proper legroom was provided in all seats on a train, too, rather than me being only able to use the end sections.
 

ValleyLines142

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Fantastic work @Tom - as a regular rail user both for work and leisure you do a sterling job at keeping the site up and running when no doubt you are probably leading a busy lifestyle yourself. Hats off to you sir!
 

hexagon789

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Looking tonight out of Glasgow and Edinburgh there are more classes now shown: Its not 100% on the classes below, but getting there.

New classes:
156 (some but not all yet)
170
318
320
334

An excellent innovation, many thanks to Scotrail and Tom.
It does 385s too, I successfully got it to show all the booked Glasgow Central-Shotts-Edinburgh units for today
 

Tom

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The biggest issue for more coverage is presumably that very few TOCs have complete GPS feed coverage for their units into data systems that then feed into Darwin etc. hence too much manual work to produce data feeds till this happens?

Scotrail being ahead on the GPS datafeed front are able to do this easily.
To the best of my knowledge, this is not running via any GPS feed. I believe that it is something that a lot of TOCs should be able to facilitate.

Personally I tend not to use the information for anything more than being in the vicinity of the right platform.
Same.

Arguably the biggest boon of this is not the specific unit data, but the number of coaches - that's really useful to know beforehand as never mind getting the specific unit or class of unit you want, if the train is shorter than you expect and it's a busy platform, standing in the wrong place may result in you not travelling, full stop as you might not be able to fit on it if you're last in the queue from having had to jog halfway back down the platform.
This is my thinking. Know Your Train needed specifically train lengths and unit type. The reasons for this will become apparent in the coming weeks as it rolls out further. There will be an introductory post to its current potential tomorrow on the blog. It can do far more than it currently seems - and nearly all of this is going in the simple mode.

I have had a lot of thoughts about this over the years and considered just doing it without having the useful data and working on a 'best case' basis, but ScotRail have enabled what I personally think is a game changer in terms of the potential of passenger familiarisation and information.

Looking tonight out of Glasgow and Edinburgh there are more classes now shown: Its not 100% on the classes below, but getting there.

New classes:
156 (some but not all yet)
170
318
320
334

An excellent innovation, many thanks to Scotrail and Tom.
All train types except HSTs will display on the 'Operated by' and 'Formed of' sections on detailed and simple respectively. Know Your Train (the diagrams) only currently works with on selected class 158, 380 and 385 operated services.

Is the information "live" or uploaded based on the booked diagrams at the start of the day? If there is a set swap at some point during the day, will that get picked up by RTT automatically?
It is effectively live and is updated hourly as allocations change during the day.
 

bramling

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I've known people end up sitting on the wrong train after a last-minute unit swap as well, and missing their train or having a last-minute run across the station as a result. Personally I tend not to use the information for anything more than being in the vicinity of the right platform.

Honestly I'm really not keen on people using the signalling data to get in the way of operational staff and bag seats ahead of potentially vulnerable people. Different people view the issue diffierently though, and I can't see a way of providing the maps without it
From an enthusiast point of view it’s excellent, however I agree with the words of caution for “normal” punters. A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and things like OTT and RTTT do require some level of railway knowledge in order to interpret the information, otherwise as you rightly say there’s a quite high risk of falling victim to a late change, set swap or whatever.
 

II

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From an enthusiast point of view it’s excellent, however I agree with the words of caution for “normal” punters. A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and things like OTT and RTTT do require some level of railway knowledge in order to interpret the information, otherwise as you rightly say there’s a quite high risk of falling victim to a late change, set swap or whatever.
Paddington have started making regular announcements saying that you shouldn’t board a train until it’s advertised on the departure boards.

Obviously becoming a bigger issue as use of mapping websites gets more widespread, as well as journey planners that list platforms of course.
 

JonathanH

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Paddington have started making regular announcements saying that you shouldn’t board a train until it’s advertised on the departure boards.

Obviously becoming a bigger issue as use of mapping websites gets more widespread, as well as journey planners that list platforms of course.
Maybe the answer to that is simply to set the ticket gates up such that they are closed until the trains are ready like EMR do at St Pancras, not remove information from people. There is nothing wrong with people knowing which platform the train is likely to depart from. It is perfectly reasonable for operators to prevent boarding.
 

II

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Not so easy at Paddington, with three platforms (1, 8 and 9) ungated, and 2-5 sharing gate lines.
 

D6700

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It makes you wonder how they manage in other countries, with printed posters showing the booked platform of every train?!?!
 

DavidGrain

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It makes you wonder how they manage in other countries, with printed posters showing the booked platform of every train?!?!
We used to have printed timetables at BR stations with platform numbers printed on them. Also printed notices listing every station served in alphabetical order with train times and platform numbers so that if you were going on a short journey you did not need to know the final destination of the train. Hutber's Law 'Improvement means deterioration'.
 

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