RealTimeTrains website

Tom

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Very sensible approach imo. I have had a play with the Scotrail information and I like the graphical representation and the further information about on board facilities. I remain to be convinced what benefit unit numbers have for the man in the street. I can see some interest in number of carriages IF you have a choice of peak time journeys. However, I think of my mum or my gf. Would that information ( about number or even carriages) enrich their journey home?
The question shouldn't be "what benefit does a unit number have?", the question should be "what benefit can a unit number bring?".

Simply put, a unit number is the starting point for a lot of train borne information that is on the site right now, such as number of coaches, visual representations of the set, facilities information, etc. The unit number is not useful to a lot of people, but it unlocks doors. The reality of the situation is that the industry are frankly useless at doing anything that benefits the passenger in a 'public' way and the level of detail out of systems like Darwin at the moment is limited to "number of coaches" and maybe passenger load. Some CIS systems have details of facilities on board which you can see via Tiger but that is not exactly aimed at your average commuter. There are other things coming in this area for RTT that I'm working on with the participating TOCs but this is probably a little longer off.

My personal view, without an enthusiast hat on, is that on my local line on journeys to London I will go for 442s or 444s and actively avoid 450s. I am not alone in that consideration. I don't need to know the numbers of the units on that service but an abstraction of that information /is/ useful - I can avoid what used to be the blue trains. Using existing industry systems, I would have to just 'know' that I need to avoid trains with a coach length of a multiple of 4, or certain parts of 9 coach trains.

Realtime Trains is in a unique position in that it caters fairly well for multiple segments - commuters, leisure travellers, power 'normal' users and enthusiasts (and this forum is obviously in this category). This forum talks about a very segmented part of that and many people don't appear to realise that most of the work I do isn't intended to solely benefit enthusiasts. I may add components which do provide a benefit in utility to those users but I haven't launched anything directly aimed at enthusiasts really in a few years. The allocations piece is the exception that proves the rule for GBRf/Caledonian Sleeper - but I did know the ScotRail thing was coming at that time... it was deliberately staggered to cause maximum impact.

I have received messages from people I know to not be enthusiasts who have found the ScotRail level data in the simple version of the site useful, and that is ultimately where I was targeting it. Unit numbers are great for getting to that level of information and, after all, why is it sensitive? It's a painted number on the side of a metal vehicle that I can go and see with my eyeball. It's not as if I'm asking for the sales data for all tickets out of London Euston on a given day...which would be very sensitive!

I wouldn't take unnecessary journey any way whether shown unit allocation or not. I think there are lot of people who'd like to know unit allocation for particular or any service of a TOC or an area. I mean an innocent reason to know of course :))))
It would be well satisfactory to have a source of the information for them.
You may not but some people will if it's something like their last one for sight/bash. The number isn't necessary in my eyes right now.
 
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samuelmorris

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Exactly that. As another example, during the warmer months, at Liverpool Street I will actively take an air-conditioned service over one that is not, even if it adds a few minutes to my journey. Now this is fortunately one terminus where you can sort of see the train in the platform before committing to going through the ticket barrier, but with several platforms in the station, if you stroll all the way from platforms 8 to 18 (and services useful to me do span this many platforms), by the time you realise you should have gone with platform 8 anyway and walk back, you might have missed that service.
Historically, just knowing the class of unit working the service was enough to give you this, and a service with a 360 timing load was a fairly good indication such a unit would be operating the service (though not always).
Nowadays, however, there are two complexities to consider:
- TfL Rail services operated by 315s or 345s are all timed as 315s, so you've no way of knowing which class is operating until you see it in person.
- For Anglia services, some 321s are air-conditioned (301-330), the rest are not. I might look across to that platform, see that the rearmost unit is not a refurbished example, and move onto using a slower TfL service on a 345 instead, only to ultimately miss out on a refurbished unit sitting at the front, hidden from view.

For all the technical detail in the above, this isn't really being a railway enthusiast chasing a specific unit or type of unit at all, it's simply using information I have at my disposal to give myself a better travelling experience. Now for others it may not be as simple as whether a unit is air-conditioned or not, there may be particular seats they wish to avoid, luggage rack availability issues when travelling with a suitcase etc. Once you know what you're looking for, however, if we had access to which unit numbers were operating a service (or in the case of TfL, simply the number of coaches would do, 7 (or 9) for new, 8 for old), we'd be able to immediately visit the right platform and board the service we want.

By contrast, I have now got a few friends who aren't remotely rail enthusiats using RTT, some of them don't even like travelling by train, but use it to help deal with some of the less punctual routes out there.
 

DarloRich

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The question shouldn't be "what benefit does a unit number have?", the question should be "what benefit can a unit number bring?".

Simply put, a unit number is the starting point for a lot of train borne information that is on the site right now, such as number of coaches, visual representations of the set, facilities information, etc. The unit number is not useful to a lot of people, but it unlocks doors. The reality of the situation is that the industry are frankly useless at doing anything that benefits the passenger in a 'public' way and the level of detail out of systems like Darwin at the moment is limited to "number of coaches" and maybe passenger load. Some CIS systems have details of facilities on board which you can see via Tiger but that is not exactly aimed at your average commuter. There are other things coming in this area for RTT that I'm working on with the participating TOCs but this is probably a little longer off.

My personal view, without an enthusiast hat on, is that on my local line on journeys to London I will go for 442s or 444s and actively avoid 450s. I am not alone in that consideration. I don't need to know the numbers of the units on that service but an abstraction of that information /is/ useful - I can avoid what used to be the blue trains. Using existing industry systems, I would have to just 'know' that I need to avoid trains with a coach length of a multiple of 4, or certain parts of 9 coach trains.

Realtime Trains is in a unique position in that it caters fairly well for multiple segments - commuters, leisure travellers, power 'normal' users and enthusiasts (and this forum is obviously in this category). This forum talks about a very segmented part of that and many people don't appear to realise that most of the work I do isn't intended to solely benefit enthusiasts. I may add components which do provide a benefit in utility to those users but I haven't launched anything directly aimed at enthusiasts really in a few years. The allocations piece is the exception that proves the rule for GBRf/Caledonian Sleeper - but I did know the ScotRail thing was coming at that time... it was deliberately staggered to cause maximum impact.

I am very happy to take your point most of which I agree with. The obsession here is the number and "da gen". For most real people the information about on board facilitates and carriage numbers is more use. I always try to look at things from the real persons point of view ( rather than an enthusiast) which is rare here I think.

I try to push normal people towards RTT because it is easy to use, caters for many different types of user and is, frankly. more professional looking and feeling than many "professional" operations! I think it is a great site. I will be honest I didn't really get it when it came into being but I do now.
 

berneyarms

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Question for Tom - for some reason the first train out of Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness (06:11) each day is missing on RTT at the moment - leaving an unbalanced set of workings out and in?

Not sure what’s going on!
 

ABB125

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I suppose one way of looking at the unit number situation is that if you need and have the unit number to provide service information, you may as well publish the unit number for the sake of a few bytes (?) of data. That way, you keep"normal" people happy with things like number of carriages, and enthusiasts happy with the actual number(s). Everyone's a winner! :):)
 

Strat-tastic

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Nice to know I am neither real nor normal. Explains a lot :D

I've been thinking about a potential subscription-based model for RTT (which I think has been mooted as a possibility upthread). I totally get Tom's aim to cater for various demographics, but from an enthusiast's point of view, what would get me to stump up some hard cash would be:

Loco/unit allocations (obviously only ones which RTT is allowed to publish) - Allow search by loco/unit

Configurable Alerts with user-defined alarms...

When a loco/unit is allocated
When a loco/unit is allocated to a defined service or pathed to pass through or down a defined area or line
When a given service is activated, departs, reports at a defined timing point etc much like rail-record currently offers
When any service reports at a defined timing point

Release an RTT app.

Of course all this takes much time and money, I appreciate, but I wanted to get my thoughts down here anyway :smile:
 

samuelmorris

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The problem with that though is that all the TOCs would have to agree to supply the data. I don't think sending some money over is necessarily going to help with that. From what I've heard some TOCs are not at all keen on disclosing unit allocations, but I don't know which they are.

Given the few individuals out there that used LU's new stock delivery date forum threads as a means to scope out brand new units to vandalise as soon as they were delivered, I can sort of understand their concerns.
 

Tom

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The obsession here is the number and "da gen". For most real people the information about on board facilitates and carriage numbers is more use.
That is the angle I broadly take on this subject. Personally, I don't find specific unit numbers all that useful apart from if I want to log it in my RailMiles or find a noisy 442 on my commute home from London. In that instance though, I'm on it so I can go find it.

Question for Tom - for some reason the first train out of Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness (06:11) each day is missing on RTT at the moment - leaving an unbalanced set of workings out and in?
The service is marked as cancelled in the base timetable. I will let ScotRail know.

I suppose one way of looking at the unit number situation is that if you need and have the unit number to provide service information, you may as well publish the unit number for the sake of a few bytes (?) of data. That way, you keep"normal" people happy with things like number of carriages, and enthusiasts happy with the actual number(s). Everyone's a winner! :):)
You have compounded two separate issues - data and politics.

On the data front... to do the work for Know Your Train, I need to know the unit number and that data is stored. I personally have no issue with displaying that data if I have it.

On the political front, the current major problem is that to publish a 'new' unit number if new TOCs were to come onboard would potentially encourage people to make journeys, of any description, that would increase their risk of exposure to the virus. The other problem is that in order to display the data, I have to get it from a TOC. Realtime Trains is very much not part of the rail industry in this respect and operates on the periphery. It is not a multinational with the benefit of being entrenched already and I am not someone willing to tow the party line all the time which makes a lot of people uncomfortable of RTT's existence. It is not merely a case of saying 'oh hi gief data' - purely because I am not really a trusted industry party. It's not as if RTTs data in normal times reaches 2 million people a month... oh wait, yes it does :rolleyes:

Loco/unit allocations (obviously only ones which RTT is allowed to publish) - Allow search by loco/unit
This is already finished but will not be released until corona restrictions are released sufficiently - it will be free.

When a loco/unit is allocated
When a loco/unit is allocated to a defined service or pathed to pass through or down a defined area or line
When a given service is activated, departs, reports at a defined timing point etc much like rail-record currently offers
When any service reports at a defined timing point
Noted, but I think this is a lot of effort for probably little reward - RTT isn't an enthusiast product anymore.

Release an RTT app.
Has been in progress for some time, but the new business model for these needs more consideration. Unlike a lot of apps on the market, I have a substantial number of monthly costs to pay for unlike those which drive off things like Darwin.
The problem with that though is that all the TOCs would have to agree to supply the data. I don't think sending some money over is necessarily going to help with that. From what I've heard some TOCs are not at all keen on disclosing unit allocations, but I don't know which they are.
As I referenced above, this is more a problem of RTT not being a 'trusted industry party'. And the fact that this data is really flipping hard to get out of all the systems. People think that because it's in TRUST it's readily available to just fetch.... good lord no.
 
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or in the case of TfL, simply the number of coaches would do, 7 (or 9) for new, 8 for old
If you enter London Liverpool Street in to tiger then it does tell you if the Shenfields are 7,8 or 9 coaches (down trains only). However the same information is not available for Romford. My apologies for wandering slightly off topic from the excellent RTT.
 

TT-ONR-NRN

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One issue is that should I have a train on the platform that’s just arrived at say... London Bridge and I quickly just want to check where it stops, when I look it up, the train seems to have disappeared from simple mode as if it’s already departed, which is a tad annoying
 

43096

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Given the number of sites around Europe that publish vehicle numbers for their trains, the arguments for not doing so in the UK get harder and harder to justify. Given that we have the likes of Flightradar24 for aircraft there's even less reason - it's not like the TOCs are really competing with each other in the same way as airlines do, is it? Likewise the freight operators: no idea what they think they are risking by publishing the data. GBRf clearly don't see it as a risk.

As for RTT, it's an absolutely essential tool. Got me ahead of the crowd on many occasions at Waterloo in the evening peak, especially when the service has collapsed, and prevented me from being stuck at my home station when the service has gone up the wall in the morning. Memorably one time when the up Windsor lines were blocked in the evening so there were no trains arriving for down services from Waterloo. Concourse was chaos, but as my service came in ECS from Wimbledon Park I could see it was running on RTT and that 5C93 was arriving. Walked down Platform 15 in splendid isolation, stock comes in, doors open, I get on. Only then does the departure board flick up with "1735 Reading" and the chaos starts. But I had a seat thanks to RTT. :D
 

Chris217

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I notice for Scotrail services unit numbers are shown in the train running description. Does this feature for any other operators at the moment?

Thanks in advance
 

_toommm_

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I notice for Scotrail services unit numbers are shown in the train running description. Does this feature for any other operators at the moment?

Thanks in advance
ScotRail (minus the HSTs if I remember correctly), GBRF, and Caledonian Sleeper.

Tom (the developer of RTT) doesn’t wish to add any more at the moment due to the virus to prevent people chasing their last unit, so to speak.

His blog is a great read - head to page two where he writes about it:

 

mervyn72

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Taking the Covid timetable out of the equation, how accurate is RTT. For example, the Northern Trains Ltd diagrams released on FOI show a 2D97 from Middlesbrough to Darlignton at 2230 weekdays but not shown on RTT. They are for the same timetable period. Which source is correct?
 

louis97

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Taking the Covid timetable out of the equation, how accurate is RTT. For example, the Northern Trains Ltd diagrams released on FOI show a 2D97 from Middlesbrough to Darlignton at 2230 weekdays but not shown on RTT. They are for the same timetable period. Which source is correct?
Have a look at the date they say they were printed. If they were printed a significant length of time before the start of the timetable they are for, they are likely to have changed, RTT will be correct. 2D97 seems to have been replaced by extending the Saltburn arrival (2D63).
 
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Have a look at the date they say they were printed. If they were printed a significant length of time before the start of the timetable they are for, they are likely to have changed, RTT will be correct. 2D97 seems to have been replaced by extending the Saltburn arrival (2D63).
It's possibly also worth pointing out that in the consistently changing world of covid timetables, official industry data has been known, on rare occasions, to contain errors - something that is out of the hands of RTT, but has the potential to effect its (and any other timetabling services) accuracy.
 

Tom

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One issue is that should I have a train on the platform that’s just arrived at say... London Bridge and I quickly just want to check where it stops, when I look it up, the train seems to have disappeared from simple mode as if it’s already departed, which is a tad annoying
I have noted this as an issue recently and it is now an issue in the backlog to resolve.

Given the number of sites around Europe that publish vehicle numbers for their trains, the arguments for not doing so in the UK get harder and harder to justify. Given that we have the likes of Flightradar24 for aircraft there's even less reason - it's not like the TOCs are really competing with each other in the same way as airlines do, is it? Likewise the freight operators: no idea what they think they are risking by publishing the data. GBRf clearly don't see it as a risk.
I both agree and disagree. This data was essentially already public for aircraft due to the way they transmit data back via ADS-B. It's obviously somewhat different for the rail operators where this doesn't happen - although there is a system to get this data from GSM-R which was meant to be made open. Needless to say, it hasn't...and it isn't in the ownership of Network Rail bizarrely either. Happily, the tide seems to be moving in the right direction but it will be slow.

I notice for Scotrail services unit numbers are shown in the train running description. Does this feature for any other operators at the moment?
ScotRail (minus the HSTs if I remember correctly), GBRF, and Caledonian Sleeper.

Tom (the developer of RTT) doesn’t wish to add any more at the moment due to the virus to prevent people chasing their last unit, so to speak.

His blog is a great read - head to page two where he writes about it:

You can find a full list of supported operators at https://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/about/knowyourtrain/. You can find information on the blog about train allocations and Know Your Train at https://blog.realtimetrains.com/categories/know-your-train/ as I've now categorised them.
They've fixed it now - thanks for letting them know!
Welcome. If it happens again let me know.
Taking the Covid timetable out of the equation, how accurate is RTT. For example, the Northern Trains Ltd diagrams released on FOI show a 2D97 from Middlesbrough to Darlignton at 2230 weekdays but not shown on RTT. They are for the same timetable period. Which source is correct?
Each source will be as accurate at it can be at the time of extraction. RTT is updated every night by rail industry systems with the timetable and throughout the day with short notice updates. With the proviso as @splashoutradio put in their post.
 

Mathew S

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OK thanks. Not for me then :)
Tom Scott (YouTube) has a video with a decent explanation of APIs and the kinds of things they're useful for



Anyway, to answer your other question, a "favicon" is the little logo that appears in the tab in your web browser, or in your bookmarks, next to the name of a the website.
 

Strat-tastic

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Tom Scott (YouTube) has a video with a decent explanation of APIs and the kinds of things they're useful for



Anyway, to answer your other question, a "favicon" is the little logo that appears in the tab in your web browser, or in your bookmarks, next to the name of a the website.
Oh I see now; cheers :)
And thanks for the vid, I'll have a look later after work.
 

ainsworth74

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How can the video possibly have had 13,208,144 "views"?
Because YouTube is used by millions of people every day, Tom Scott is quite popular (2.73m subscribers) and the video has been available since early April. I'm not sure, therefore, why the number is surprising?
 

matt

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If it was an engineers working then it is likely that the inbound working would have entered the possession at somewhere other than Hindley and then left the possession at Hindley.
 

Mathew S

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Hi I’m new here. Just wondering how a freight is rostered to start at Hindley Station this morning (it left early) yet there is no indication of how it arrived there. Any ideas?
If it was an engineers working then it is likely that the inbound working would have entered the possession at somewhere other than Hindley and then left the possession at Hindley.
I'm pretty sure this will have been the inbound working, arriving at Ince via Chat Moss and Wigan North Western. Most likely, I think, as @matt said, overnight engineering works of some kind.
 

Gricer99

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Thanks. I noticed one of the rails west of Hindley station was painted white recently. Maybe this was to identify the rail that needed grinding?
 

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