Trains Obfuscated

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zwk500

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It can still run yes. Whether it does or not is entirely down to the requirements of the operator.
 

yorkie

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Scrambling of the headcode has no bearing on what timetable the train will run to, or whether the train will arrive on time.
 

Watershed

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If a train has been obfuscated does it still run?
Obfuscation simply means that the operator has requested for Network Rail to hide the headcode in the open data. It will run (or not) exactly the same way as any other non-obfuscated train.
 

Merle Haggard

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I'm puzzles by obfuscation...
If one uses Open Train Times - maps, freight trains are shown with obscured headcodes. These headcodes appear in yellow, so highlighting and clicking has no effect and the schedule can't be accessd.
If, however, one uses the same site's station arrival/departure data, freight trains are shown with no headcode and a padlock symbol instead -
but clicking on the padlock produces the train schedule and running information.
What's the purpose of obfuscation?
 

pdeaves

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I'm puzzles by obfuscation...
If one uses Open Train Times - maps, freight trains are shown with obscured headcodes. These headcodes appear in yellow, so highlighting and clicking has no effect and the schedule can't be accessd.
If, however, one uses the same site's station arrival/departure data, freight trains are shown with no headcode and a padlock symbol instead -
but clicking on the padlock produces the train schedule and running information.
What's the purpose of obfuscation?
I don't use OTT so may 'bark up the wrong tree': when you click on the padlock, does it show the real headcode as well? Obfuscation (should) only scramble the actual headcode, not the schedule.
 

zwk500

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I'm puzzles by obfuscation...
If one uses Open Train Times - maps, freight trains are shown with obscured headcodes. These headcodes appear in yellow, so highlighting and clicking has no effect and the schedule can't be accessd.
If, however, one uses the same site's station arrival/departure data, freight trains are shown with no headcode and a padlock symbol instead -
but clicking on the padlock produces the train schedule and running information.
What's the purpose of obfuscation?
I don't use OTT so may 'bark up the wrong tree': when you click on the padlock, does it show the real headcode as well? Obfuscation (should) only scramble the actual headcode, not the schedule.
The yellow just means OTT hasn't managed to link the headcode to the schedule - it happens with trains that aren't obfuscated as well. If you navigate through to an obfuscated train via the padlock it still blocks out the TOC, Train type and service code, and scrambles the TRUST ID.
 

Freightmaster

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I'm puzzles by obfuscation...
If one uses Open Train Times - maps, freight trains are shown with obscured headcodes. These headcodes appear in yellow, so highlighting and clicking has no effect and the schedule can't be accessd.
If, however, one uses the same site's station arrival/departure data, freight trains are shown with no headcode and a padlock symbol instead -
but clicking on the padlock produces the train schedule and running information.

What's the purpose of obfuscation?
One of the main 'purposes' is exactly as you described - to make it extremely difficult to match
headcodes in the Train Describer (map) data feed with the correct schedule.

I manage to do it on my maps (and show the real headcodes 99% of the time), but to do so
requires constant work behind the scenes, especially when it comes to one off STP workings
such as track machines!




MARK
 

RichardKing

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I don't understand why headcodes are obfuscated for routine passenger workings though.

For instance, 1F04 London Victoria - Eastbourne & Ore is as it appears on a Monday and, as such, specific timings are shown in RTT (https://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/train/C23654/2021-02-15/detailed) ; BUT, for the rest of the week the headcode becomes scrambled (as seen on OTT when it's running) and the timings become basic (https://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/train/C23654/2021-02-16/detailed).

This service is not secret and it isn't a 'runs as required' diagram either. Very strange.
 

SargeNpton

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I don't understand why headcodes are obfuscated for routine passenger workings though.

For instance, 1F04 London Victoria - Eastbourne & Ore is as it appears on a Monday and, as such, specific timings are shown in RTT (https://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/train/C23654/2021-02-15/detailed) ; BUT, for the rest of the week the headcode becomes scrambled (as seen on OTT when it's running) and the timings become basic (https://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/train/C23654/2021-02-16/detailed).

This service is not secret and it isn't a 'runs as required' diagram either. Very strange.
C23654 has the same source data Mondays through to Fridays. If it's obfuscated in RTT for Tuesday-Friday then that would appear to be something happening within RTT.

The only other thing might be that is that that UID is now marked as STP cancelled for 22/2/21 onwards; with a different UID being input week by week.
 

_toommm_

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I don't understand why headcodes are obfuscated for routine passenger workings though.

For instance, 1F04 London Victoria - Eastbourne & Ore is as it appears on a Monday and, as such, specific timings are shown in RTT (https://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/train/C23654/2021-02-15/detailed) ; BUT, for the rest of the week the headcode becomes scrambled (as seen on OTT when it's running) and the timings become basic (https://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/train/C23654/2021-02-16/detailed).

This service is not secret and it isn't a 'runs as required' diagram either. Very strange.
Schedules don’t have a passing time for every station and junction - normally only the major ones. RTT will endeavour to fill in the missing ones, but it only happens before the day/on the day.

Comparing the two schedules above, they both look the same. RTT won’t fill in the gaps on VSTP services.

Obfuscation is simply talking about the headcodes, converting them into a non-standard format e.g. number number number letter, rather than number letter number number.
 

Shwam3

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I don't understand why headcodes are obfuscated for routine passenger workings though.

For instance, 1F04 London Victoria - Eastbourne & Ore is as it appears on a Monday and, as such, specific timings are shown in RTT (https://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/train/C23654/2021-02-15/detailed) ; BUT, for the rest of the week the headcode becomes scrambled (as seen on OTT when it's running) and the timings become basic (https://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/train/C23654/2021-02-16/detailed).

This service is not secret and it isn't a 'runs as required' diagram either. Very strange.
That will be because 1F04 is also a postal train run (i believe) by DB, who have their services obfuscated. This means all 1F04s running for a period after the mail train is activated become scrambled in the train describer feed and as such can't be tracked by RTTs detailed reports. There are a number of other headcodes with this issue as well.
 

Tom

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C23654 has the same source data Mondays through to Fridays. If it's obfuscated in RTT for Tuesday-Friday then that would appear to be something happening within RTT.

The only other thing might be that is that that UID is now marked as STP cancelled for 22/2/21 onwards; with a different UID being input week by week.
RTT performs no obfuscation itself, as @Shwam3 states it is to do with other trains operating. The running identity from the 'Train Movement' (TRUST) feed stays the same and the data becomes basic. RTT doesn't attempt to de-obfuscate from the 'Train Describer' feed so it will be seeing every 1F04 as the obfuscated ID for that other service. I could do it, and other sites do, but it's not worth the time vs effort.

Several CrossCountry services are affected by the same problem. If a train is fully obfuscated, then the Trust ID will state will show as such. In this case, it's another 1F04 on the network that is run by a non-passenger operator.
 

dmncf

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Obfuscation simply means that the operator has requested for Network Rail to hide the headcode in the open data. It will run (or not) exactly the same way as any other non-obfuscated train.
What's the point of obfuscation? Is it so freight operator A can't use the open data to plagiarise the train scheduling/diagramming/pathing ideas of freight operator B? But it would surprise me that freight operator A wouldn't have access to the real, unobfuscated data.
 

GB

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Scrambling the headcodes is absolutely pointless. The original intention (I believe) was for some kind of commercial privacy/sensitivity, but anyone that is in a position to look at another operators paths or services already know what the head codes are and what the schedules are because they work in an industry where that information is freely available through the railway systems.

I really cant see any useful or legitimate reasons they are scrambled to the public.
 

Freightmaster

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The original intention (I believe) was for some kind of commercial privacy/sensitivity, but anyone that is in a position to look at another operators paths or services already know what the head codes are and what the schedules are because they work in an industry where that information is freely available through the railway systems.
For clarification, while commercial privacy/sensitivity was indeed the reason, the FOCs were not worried about
other FOCs (who as you rightly point out will have full access to TOPS and TRUST themselves), but what they
didn't want was rival *non*rail transport operators (road/sea/etc) being able to easily find out how many trains
each FOC was running on a particular traffic flow per day/week/month.


I really cant see any useful or legitimate reasons they are scrambled to the public.
Unfortunately you are looking at it the wrong way round - as far as most of the FOCs (other than GB) are concerned,
there are no 'legitimate' reasons for any freight schedule/timekeeping information to be made available to the public
at all, not just headcodes!

Because of this attitude, when the Open Data feeds were first set up by Network Rail, the FOCs insisted
that all train freight train movements must be 'anonymized' which in practice meant two things:

- removal of the operator code so a schedule cannot be categorically matched to a particular FOC

- scrambling the TrainID (headcode) so that freight services cannot be identified on the Train Describer (map) feed.


Sadly, as has been pointed out by others, obfuscation is something of a blunt instrument which ends up
scrambling passenger headcodes where they share the same headcodes as mail services.






MARK
 

4F89

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It's just to annoy spotters. No other reason.
As I said, just to annoy spotters. Anyone that actually needs to know has access to systems, and nobody else cares. So can only be to wind them up.
 

RichardKing

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C23654 has the same source data Mondays through to Fridays. If it's obfuscated in RTT for Tuesday-Friday then that would appear to be something happening within RTT.

The only other thing might be that is that that UID is now marked as STP cancelled for 22/2/21 onwards; with a different UID being input week by week.

Schedules don’t have a passing time for every station and junction - normally only the major ones. RTT will endeavour to fill in the missing ones, but it only happens before the day/on the day.

Comparing the two schedules above, they both look the same. RTT won’t fill in the gaps on VSTP services.

Obfuscation is simply talking about the headcodes, converting them into a non-standard format e.g. number number number letter, rather than number letter number number.

That will be because 1F04 is also a postal train run (i believe) by DB, who have their services obfuscated. This means all 1F04s running for a period after the mail train is activated become scrambled in the train describer feed and as such can't be tracked by RTTs detailed reports. There are a number of other headcodes with this issue as well.

RTT performs no obfuscation itself, as @Shwam3 states it is to do with other trains operating. The running identity from the 'Train Movement' (TRUST) feed stays the same and the data becomes basic. RTT doesn't attempt to de-obfuscate from the 'Train Describer' feed so it will be seeing every 1F04 as the obfuscated ID for that other service. I could do it, and other sites do, but it's not worth the time vs effort.

Several CrossCountry services are affected by the same problem. If a train is fully obfuscated, then the Trust ID will state will show as such. In this case, it's another 1F04 on the network that is run by a non-passenger operator.
Thanks for the replies. I have always wondered about the scrambling of headcodes, but it does make sense now.
 

GB

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For clarification, while commercial privacy/sensitivity was indeed the reason, the FOCs were not worried about
other FOCs (who as you rightly point out will have full access to TOPS and TRUST themselves), but what they
didn't want was rival *non*rail transport operators (road/sea/etc) being able to easily find out how many trains
each FOC was running on a particular traffic flow per day/week/month.



Unfortunately you are looking at it the wrong way round - as far as most of the FOCs (other than GB) are concerned,
there are no 'legitimate' reasons for any freight schedule/timekeeping information to be made available to the public
at all, not just headcodes!

Because of this attitude, when the Open Data feeds were first set up by Network Rail, the FOCs insisted
that all train freight train movements must be 'anonymized' which in practice meant two things:

- removal of the operator code so a schedule cannot be categorically matched to a particular FOC

- scrambling the TrainID (headcode) so that freight services cannot be identified on the Train Describer (map) feed.


Sadly, as has been pointed out by others, obfuscation is something of a blunt instrument which ends up
scrambling passenger headcodes where they share the same headcodes as mail services.






MARK

The road haulier angle makes no sense. If that were the reason then its the schedules that should not be made public....a 4 character train description makes no difference.

On the subject of looking at it the wrong way...maybe. But I'd assume the data is not scrambled by default but an extra step must be taken to make it so...why make a fuss about the head code when schedules are there for all to see anyway? I can't speak for other FOC staff but being able to track your own trains has been very handy when "out in the field".
 

Freightmaster

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The road haulier angle makes no sense. If that were the reason then it's the schedules that should not be made public....
And believe me, that's exactly what most of the the FOCs wanted back in 2014, but luckily for enthusiasts after a lot of
negotiation, a compromise was reached whereby freight schedules could be uploaded as long as they were anonymized,
which included scrambling the headcode to make it as hard as possible to cross reference a particular train between
different information sources such as the various data feeds, WTTs, etc.


But I'd assume the data is not scrambled by default but an extra step must be taken to make it so...
Unfortunately not - the data feeds are set up so that operators have to be specifically flagged to enable
headcodes to be shown 'in the clear'.
The best example of this was when Sheffield Supertram started running to/from Rotherham Parkgate a
couple of years ago - the flag wasn't set correctly so all it's trains had scrambled headcodes.
On the face of it, you might not think that was a big issue, but because of the way the data feeds work,
all trains with 2Axx headcodes anywhere the country were also scrambled, irrespective of operator and
this went on for nine months or so despite being reported to Network Rail by myself and others on
numerous occasions...






MARK
 

GB

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OK thanks Mark, I still think its silly but it is what it is I guess.
 

306024

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So that’s why the 2Axx Harwich branch trains went wonky. Thanks for the explanation.

Anyone interested in Felixstowe freight trains just needs to go on the Port of Felixstowe website to see the real train IDs.
 
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