If you saw the number of hours I spent working on OpenTrainTimes each week, you’d wonder how on earth I managed to have a full-time job and a busy social life. Sometimes I wonder too – which is why it’s time to change tack.
OpenTrainTimes Ltd. is now offering consultancy and software development services to the rail industry based on over 20 years of hands-on technology experience, including:
- Customised route maps – specifically for your line of route, a huge benefit for front-line staff to give customer information, and control room staff to provide focused analysis
- Full detail of freight trains – available only to railway operators but giving you full visibility of all trains running on the network
- Data analysis services – from performance and statistical analysis to data augmentation and integration
- Software development – including proof-of-concept work to show the art of the possible, and de-risk future system build
- Bespoke consultancy – requirements capture and validation, system design, integration, architecture and just about anything else railway technology-related
Drop us a email at email@example.com to discuss your requirements.
Before we cover the list of new things this week, an apology. All the times on the website for trains today are one hour out from reality due to a straightforward, but irritating code problem. We’re hoping that come April 2017, we’ll have a new version of the website up and running, so we’re not going to fix it. It should only affect trains today, but we’re going to keep an eye on things.
Anyway, we’ve been ridiculously busy over the last fortnight, seemingly working all hours to bring you two brand new maps:
- The Bromsgrove map covers the route from Five Ways, near Birmingham New Street, all the way Cheltenham Spa. This route is currently being re-signalled and re-controlled so there aren’t any service trains on it yet, but you can watch the signalling being testing for the moment
- The Fife Circle map covers North Queensferry, the entire route via Burntisland and Cowdenbeath up to Ladybank and Springfield
As always, there are bug fixes and support emails to get through – we’re working hard to get them down to a manageable level, but some queries are taking time. This time, we’ve fixed numerous smaller issues such as missing shunt signals or routes, but there are three important ones:
- Some subtle errors crept in whilst we were drawing maps, which meant that a number of signal and route indications never appeared, and some platforms appeared incorrectly. We’ve fixed this so it won’t happen again, and you might notice extra route indications on your favourite map
- A long-standing and very difficult to identify problem on the Stoke-on-Trent map meant that signals around Stoke-on-Trent station (for the technically minded, on the STOKEJCN SSI) weren’t showing correctly, but we’ve patched around this
- Several minor fixes to the GWML maps as far as Reading, including missing and mis-positioned points
The next release will be in three weeks time as there’s a holiday by the seaside to be had. Hopefully the Wembley Freight maps will be ready by then!
There is no doubt that, if I quit my day-job and work on OpenTrainTimes full time, I’ll still not be able to keep up with the number of emails coming in and requests for maps! Please don’t stop sending them in though – every one sent to firstname.lastname@example.org is logged and queued so it’s not lost.
This fortnight has been particularly busy, and we have a brand new map to announce – Westbury! After many weeks of work, it’s now complete, covering Westbury to Castle Cary and Salisbury, joining up with the West of England map.
Other more significant map changes:
- The Nottingham area map has been updated to include the newly resignalled route from Lowdham to Newark Flat Crossing
- The Gourock area map now shows the minor changes which took place a couple of weeks ago, introducing some new signals and removing disused sidings
We’ve also made some changes to the schedule pages:
- The miles and chains column, which was never being populated as the database behind this is immense, has now been removed
- The slightly confusing ‘more…’ link at the top of the page has now been renamed "Technical information", but contains the same data
- Where a train has called or passed a location, the platform number will be updated to show whether or not the train used the scheduled platform
- When sharing a freight or engineering train schedule on social media, the link title is much cleaner
Other smaller fixes and changes:
- There are more inter-map links active, which makes it easier to jump between adjacent maps
- Some signals at Banbury were never displaying an aspect, which was down to missing code to actually wire them up!
- Feniton station on the West of England map was missing a signal controlling movements toward Exeter, which has now been added along with two signals controlling movements toward Yeovil Junction
- Some ground position lights on the Merseyrail Northern map have now been repositioned and the software problem which mis-positioned them fixed
- CKB3 signal on the approach to Dorking has been renamed CBK4 as it is in reality
- Routes at Effingham Junction and the surrounding areas are now shown
- Some minor fixes at Woking – the route from 1204 signal has been fixed so it shows correctly a route toward 1209 signal, not toward 170 signal and some of the sidings which don’t exist are now removed
- Pirbright Junction is now correctly shown as a flyover, not a diveunder, and trains between 194 and 190, and 396 and 392 signals now appear as two signals were missing
- Preston now shows its station name rather than being left blank as an exercise in identifying stations
And that’s it. We’re busy working on the next maps – of the freight yards and sidings at Wembley, the newly re-signalled Bristol Parkway area and a couple of surprises!
Last week’s release didn’t happen. There are times in life where there’s simply too much to do, and you need to take a bit of time out and have some fun! The past fortnight has been that, so we decided to delay the release rather than deploy it in a perfunctory style.
We’ve just deployed the updated code to the site, with the following points of note:
- With the new Derby map, we’ve now completed the Midland Mainline route from St Pancras all the way to Sheffield! The map will be extended over the coming weeks to fill in the gaps toward Burton-on-Trent and Stenson Junction
- The long-standing bug with signals L155 and L148 on the London Bridge map has been fixed, which was an issue with the train describer rather than our maps
- Some misdrawn signals on the Merseyrail Northern Line map have been fixed
- Cricklewood Sidings on the London St Pancras International to Harpenden map have been added, although there’s little train describer coverage
- On the Norwood Junction and London Victoria to East Croydon maps, we’ve corrected a number of small mistakes in what is a very complicated area. We’re not going to list them all here, but if you spot any further issues, please get in touch!
- Some maps now have fringes between signalling areas indicated on them, such as the East London Line and London Bridge maps
- At Wimbledon, none of the trains signalled by London Victoria ASC were showing up, which we’ve fixed
We’re still hard at work on the Westbury map, and we’ve started a detailed map of the non-passenger parts of Wembley. Those will be out in the next few weeks – fingers crossed – and hopefully we’ll have the new version of the site up and running for Christmas!
Until next time, enjoy the new map of Derby!