What happened – 11th July outage

Earlier today, the OpenTrainTimes website was down. The root cause was that one of the disks was full, which we’ve fixed and put our recovery process in to action. Given the time it takes to replay a backlog of messages – a problem we’ve had before – it took until about 3pm for us to catch up on the missed messages.

Although we have plenty of monitoring in place to alert us of problems such as this, we’ve identified – in this case – that the monitoring was set up for the wrong server. Consequently, nothing alerted us to the imminently-filling disk.
We’ll be fixing this over the coming days.

We’re sorry for the extended degradation in service today. We don’t take outages lightly, and we’ll be looking at ways to stop this happening in the future.

What’s new – 11th March 2018

The weekends are never long enough to do everything we want to do. Still, we’ve managed to get a new map of Blackpool North and South finished, and also fixed a number of little bugs:

  • At Hayes & Harlington, we’ve split out the ‘last received’ platform berth and we now show the next train due to leave the bay platform
  • More routes are now on the Slough map
  • One of the routes from WK375 signal at Woking was drawn over the wrong set of points, which we’ve fixed
  • The positioning of some shunt signals at Feltham was wrong, so we’ve moved them around to be correct
  • At Bromley North, the route indications out of the two platforms were swapped around
  • Many of the station links on the Victoria to Nunhead map didn’t work, so we’ve plumbed them in and also added additional route indications
  • At Acton Main Line, SN205 signal was mispositioned on the wrong line

We’ve still got lots of support tickets to get through, so we’ll be spending most of our time this week trying to get the number down.

What’s new – 4th March 2018

Time flies when you’re busy working on so many projects!

A couple of weeks ago, Railbuddy launched – it’s a Delay Repay app for Apple iOS (at the moment) which will be useful if you commute regularly. We run the real-time engine for Railbuddy which manages data for the entire country, and writing it was one of the reasons updates have been a little slower over the past months. Download the app and give it a try!

There have been a lot of minor fixes to maps over the last six weeks or so – here’s a selection of the more visible changes we’ve made:

  • At Ledburn Junction, we now show the berths for shunt signals which allow trains to reverse. Not many make these moves, but when they do, the train disappeared
  • Signal WK442 on the Alton map and the interface with the Watercress Line are now shown correctly, and duplicate repeater signal identities have been removed
  • We missed the Kettering – Corby works, so the Bedford North Junction to Syston map wasn’t updating correctly – so we’ve updated the map and it’s all working now
  • The West Dulwich to Otford, Teynham and Sheppey map is extended up to Otford, Bat and Ball, and Kemsing. The entrance to the EMU depot (signals 4122, 4120 and 4118) has been redrawn and routes added from 4123 and 4127 signals. Some signals and routes up to and around Swanley have also been fixed

In the pipeline are new maps of Stalybridge to Huddersfield, and the Blackpool North and Blackpool South branches. Those will be along as soon as they’re ready. We’ve also got a new mapping engine being tested at the moment – when we launch it, the site will be able to cope better with the hundreds of simultaneous users we have. More on that in another post.

As always, please keep your emails and tweets coming – there’s a backlog of support tickets which we’re hoping to get through this week and next weekend, and we’ll release the Huddersfield area map as soon as it’s finished testing.

What’s new – 21st January 2018

This week has been crazily busy – we have a brand new map, and also an updated map for you:

Some of the minor issues fixed this week include platforms at Grangetown near Cardiff Central, signal 2041 at Bristol Parkway mislabelled, routes on the Banbury and Oxford maps, and the link between the Victoria and Chatham maps.

Please keep on reporting problems to support@opentraintimes.com – we keep track of every message you send so we can get back to you.

Until next time, enjoy the new maps!

What’s new – 14th January 2018

Another Sunday creeps up on us, and it’s time to release the new maps and updates to the site. Work is continuing in the background on brand new features for the next major version of the site – constrained, as always, by having to go out and earn money to pay for all of this.

This week, there are two new maps:

  • London Victoria to Nunhead and Herne Hill covers the entirety of London Victoria station, including the Down Carriage Sidings and Stewarts Lane Depot, down to Clapham High Street. The curve toward Loughborough Junction extends the map to fringe with the Thameslink Core map, and we also have toward Herne Hill and the routes to and from Loughborough Junction and Brixton. Peckham Rye and Queens Road Peckham fringe the map nicely with the London Bridge and East London Line maps, and past Nunhead, we also fringe with the North Kent Lines map via Lewisham
  • The West Dulwich to Teynham and Sheppey map extends from the other new map, taking us down through Beckenham Junction (fringing with the Norwood Junction map for trains to and from Crystal Palace), through to Sittingbourne and Teynham. We’ve also included the branch to Sheerness-on-Sea

A vast amount of work has gone in to these maps, and we’re rightly quite proud of what we’ve achieved in such a small time. On top of that, we’ve also been busy fixing problems with the existing maps – so many this time that we can’t actually show them on our development system on a single page!

  • Signal L249 was missing from the Liverpool Street to Romford map, and we’ve revised the layout around the Carpenters Road Curve and lines off to the North London Line
  • Platform 1 at Filton Abbey Wood had mysteriously disappeared, but we’ve been assured it exists in real-life, so have added it
  • One of the ETCS marker boards at London Paddington was facing the wrong way, and now points toward the track to which it applies
  • Again, another ETCS marker board was the wrong way around at London Blackfriars, and we’ve also removed the berths for the cab-signalling markers on the line toward London Bridge
  • We’d drawn the fringe between the Stour Valley and Wolverhampton workstations incorrectly on the Smethwick Galton Bridge to Stafford (exc.) map, so we’ve fixed it – trains no longer disappear at BW4248 and BW4249 signals
  • Signal T646 at Plumpton is a distant signal, so we’ve removed the berth
  • We think the signal at Ashchurch for Tewkesbury sidings is G234, not G324, so we’ve corrected it on the map
  • At Loughborough, the Limit of Shunt (LOS) board by signal 524 was showing as an ETCS marker board, and this now shows as a LOS marker
  • Some additional routes are shown around Three Bridges, as well as the misnumbering of T510 signal being fixed. Reigate’s RG23 berth now clears out when a train passes the signal
  • Some trackwork missing at Lancaster has now been added
  • A set of points was misdrawn around platform 4 and 6 at Cardiff Central, making it look like it was impossible to move from platform 4 to the main lines – this is fixed
  • Kenilworth station is shown between Coventry and Leamington Spa, although no trains are booked to call there yet
  • At Ashford International, the berth for signal 664 in platform 1 has been fixed, the map extended to Chartham and the signals past Sevington now display descriptions

Please keep reporting bugs, problems and issues to support@opentraintimes.com – you’ll get an email back which will let you see progress of your report, and also when it’s fixed. We like to keep in touch.

Until next time, enjoy the new maps!

What’s new – 3rd January 2018

Happy New Year to you all – we’ve been hard at work over the Christmas break updating several maps, which are now live:

As well as those major pieces of work, there are a handful of minor things that have been fixed:

  • Between Winsford and Crewe, some signals were placed out-of-order
  • At Lydney, some berths were missing from the loops
  • On the Exeter map at Norton Fitzwarren, signal E627 was mis-drawn as a ground position light signal, rather than a main aspect
  • Signal 7125 at Metheringham failed to show a train description
  • Route from signal S136 at Sheffield were drawn incorrectly

There is still competition back at OpenTrainTimes HQ between updating the public site and working on projects which bring in the money we need to keep the public site running. We have a rather large backlog of support tickets waiting to be answered – if you’ve logged something and not had a reply, we’re sorry – and we’ll get around to responding as soon as we can.

Until next time (which will be sooner than three months since last time!), enjoy the maps!

What’s new – 1st October 2017

After a lot of work, the Bristol Parkway map has been redrawn slightly and extended to cover the Avonmouth loop and the Severn Beach branch.

Drawing and making the Filton Diamond look sensible was a challenge. For those of you not familiar with the area, Google Maps shows it well. West from Bristol Parkway are two tracks to the north and two to the south, plus a single track across. From the north and south, the track splits in to a single line toward the west. It all sounds pretty straightforward, but representing it on a map and making it look and feel usable was one of the biggest challenges we’ve ever undertaken.

Due to spending all our time working on this map, the only other update is on the Wilmslow map, where routes from MS4132 now show.

It’s time for a much needed chill-out now. We’re working nearly seven days a week on OpenTrainTimes and other projects, but planning on tackling a couple of smaller, simpler routes for the next update in a couple of weeks.

What’s new – 10th September 2017

I’m happy to say that we’re back up to full speed! Summer is behind us, and the wet weather has given us the perfect excuse to start attacking the support tickets and emails which continue to flood in.

Fifteen or so support tickets have been reviewed and sorted out this weekend, fixing the following bugs:

We’re going to start working on some new maps in the coming weeks, as well as preparing for further engineering works happening later in the year – as well as other projects to bring you even more detail on maps.

Until next time, keep watching the trains!

What’s new – 4th September 2017

It’s taken much longer than we ever thought, but the new London Bridge and North Kent Lines maps are now live.

So, what took us so long? It’s just down to a case of bad planning – although the signalling plans arrived some months before the work was to be carried out, we didn’t carry out our normal assessment of how much we need to change on our maps. That, coupled with plenty of other work and holidays meant we’re running slightly behind.

The good news is that the final layout of London Bridge and the surrounding area will now be much, much easier to draw, and we’re fully anticipating the next updates will be ready much closer to the event.

We’re also updating the London Waterloo map in the next few days – we won’t make an announcement as it’s trivial, but you can expect the new points and signalling around the low numbered platforms to be shown on the map soon.