What's New – 24th January 2016

Was it really a fortnight since the last release? It seems like much longer – probably the cold weather and staying in drinking tea and writing code.

Here’s the round-up of everything that’s new in OpenTrainTimes this release.

First up – schedule linking. Where a map shows a train description in white, you can click on that description and bring up the schedule for the train. However, due to a long-standing (and now really obvious) coding fault, trains were frequently linked to completely the wrong schedules. This is a persistent problem that lots of people have reported, but I’ve never quite been able to work it out.

The good news is that I’ve mostly fixed this and dropped back to a more pessimistic mode of “If you’re not sure, don’t link it”. This means some trains will be running around the network unlinked and you won’t be able to click on them, but the trains that are linked will be much more accurate. However, where a train starts its journey outside an area covered by a train describer, it won’t always be linked – a fix for that is coming in the next few weeks. There are also some problems where a train steps out of one train describer and then steps in to an adjacent one without a period of the train appearing on both. Three Bridges appears to be one of them, and a fix for that will be coming soon.

Aside from that big improvement, there’s a load of work that’s been done on the maps:

  • When in a meeting a few weeks ago, I found a colleague using OpenTrainTimes who immediately asked why I hadn’t covered more of the Great Eastern Main Line. I didn’t have a decent answer, so there’s now maps of Romford to Ingatestone, Ingatestone to Hatfield Peverel and Billericay to Southminster and Southend Victoria
  • Some berths on the Dagenham Dock to Stanford-le-Hope map were in the wrong place, and they’ve been put in to the right places now
  • On the Liverpool Street to Romford map, the turnback siding at Chadwell Heath is now shown
  • The routes from signal 5100 on the Esher to Basingstoke map are now shown properly
  • The London Brige map has a crossover on the Low Level lines repositioned, TL2027 signal has been removed as it’s not commissioned, and TL2831 signal has been fixed
  • During the last set of changes at Stafford, some of the tracks from the south end of the station were muddled up – these are now fixed
  • Stations between Ladywell to Hayes have been added to the North Kent Lines map
  • Schedule pages now show whether a movement report was received automatically (blank), manually (a keyboard icon), via TOPS2000 (a screen) or via GPS (a wireless icon), and they also show the actual times, rather than just the deviation from the timetable
  • The TRTS indications at Cannon Street have been removed, as they never worked
  • Coventry Arena and Bermuda Park now feature on the Rugby to Nuneaton map

And finally, we’ll be dropping support for Internet Explorer 8 in a few months time. Older versions of web browsers make it really difficult to keep the site up-to-date and limit the new features I can roll out. If you’re going to be affected by this, please get in touch via email and let me know.

That’s it – enjoy the new maps and keep your feedback coming!

// Peter

What's New – 10th January 2016

There’s no rest for the wicked – this week, there are two brand new maps and one extended map:

There are also a few minor fixes:

  • Schedule linking on the maps is further improved, although it still isn’t 100% perfect
  • Some missing berths on the new North Lincolnshire maps have been added
  • A few inconsistencies on the York, Darlington and Glasgow maps are now fixed
  • When a train is cancelled entirely, it will now show on a location page as ‘CANX’ for the arrival and departure times

There’s more coming in the next release in a fortnight or so – including some analytics and updates to the real-time digrams.

As always, please keep your feedback coming in to support@opentraintimes.com. Whilst I can’t get everything done each week, I really do look at every email and make a note of your feedback and comments.

// Peter

Last update of 2015

Christmas is a time for relaxation for some, but not everyone wants to spend their entire day drinking wine and eating mince pies. However, I seem to have been able to combine both, and I’ve spent the holiday season working on a load more tweaks and improvements to the site.

Today’s update was due yesterday, but our service provider, Linode have been hit by DDoS attacks, which meant that OpenTrainTimes appeared to be down. If these attacks continue to happen, I’ll look at moving the OpenTrainTimes infratsructure elsehwere, possibly on to multiple servers on different providers.

On to more positive news – Linode appears to be stable again, so I’ve seized the opportunity to release the code I’ve been working on over the past week or two.

Here are the highlights:

There are also a number of minor fixes to maps – mis-labelled junctions, signals and missing crossovers in particular.

Thanks to everyone who got in touch with comments, suggestions and feedback in 2015. Long may it continue in 2016 – a year when the site will be even bigger, better and loved than it is now!

// Peter

December 2015 Mega-Update

It’s been two months of silence – or so it seems. Busy working in the background has been yours truly, working on some massive behind-the-scenes updates to the site to optimise it and make it faster.

The biggest change you’ll see is that maps load faster. A lot faster. The previously bulky (sometimes several megabytes) maps are now a few hundred kilobytes, meaning that if you’re using them on a mobile device, you’ll really notice the difference.

Next, a much-requested feature – inter-map links. Between maps, you’ll see that some labels, such as “To/From London Euston”, are now clickable and have a coloured border. Clicking one of these will take you to the adjacent map. Right now, it’ll just load the map and you’ll have to find the right part yourself – but in the coming weeks, the map will take you exactly to the right place.

Another new feature – every location in blue on the maps can now be clicked and will take you to the timetable for that particular location. Neat, huh?

The rest of the changes are under the hood – some maps have been tidied up, others have been extended slightly, and most of the foundation for the next year’s worth of updates to OpenTrainTimes is in there and ready.

Enjoy the faster site and please get in touch and follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep bang up-to-date with the latest news.

In the mean time, Happy Christmas – and look out for the new maps of Charing Cross/Cannon Street, plus the Lincolnshire freight lines which are coming over Christmas!

Peter

What's new – 11th October 2015

I use f.lux to automatically dim the screen on my phone and laptop when it starts to get dark outside. It’s starting to get dark around 6pm now, which means autumn is here and winter’s not far around the corner.

The good news about darker evenings is there’s more time for me to spend inside adding new features to OpenTrainTimes – which is exactly what I’ve been doing this week! Here’s what’s new:

It wasn’t long ago that the 50th map appeared on the site, and we’re up to 65 now – and still growing.

Finally, I say this every week – please keep your emails coming in with bugs, problems, suggestions and comments. I try to keep on top of my email, but working across a number of projects in the rail industry at the moment, it’s sometimes hard to keep up.

// Peter

What's new – 4th October 2015

One of the problems with working on a number of rail industry projects is that there’s not always sufficient time when I get home to do anything other than have dinner, chill out and bit and go to bed. For this reason, there’s not much to see in this week’s release:

  • A month after the real-time train reporting was rolled out, it stopped for the majority of trains – this is actually a roll-over in the TRUST Train ID, and I’ve spent some time working around this. It’s not perfect yet, but I’m releasing a fix now that caters for nearly all scenarios
  • On the St Pancras to Harpenden map, trains disappeared approaching Kentish Town platform 1 from the north end because a signal was missing. This has now been fixed, and there are also route indications to and from the platforms at the East Midlands Trains platforms
  • The Stafford map now has route indications covering both the north and south end of the station. This is no easy thing to do – there are over 108 of them!

I’m hoping to work more on the site during this week, as there are things I want to get finished off:

  • Some of the routes on the Stafford map aren’t quite right
  • There are route indications to go on the Exeter St. Davids map and the Queenstown Road to Surbiton maps
  • The London Waterloo map is still being redrawn – it’s much clearer and has route indications everywhere
  • …and a couple of other things that I’ll keep as a surprise

Time for a well-earned dinner and glass of wine, I think!

What's new – 20th September 2015

It’s a couple of days since I made the last release so, somewhat belatedly, here’s what’s new this week:

There are also a couple of back-end changes which you won’t notice, but will help linking headcodes to train schedules which, unfortunately, still isn’t perfect. Rest assured, I’m working on it.

Until next time, enjoy the site and please do keep emailing in your feedback!

// Peter

What's new – 31st August 2015

Exciting news this week – we have real-time train tracking. This is a feature I worked on several years ago but left to one side so as not to steal anyone else’s limelight. It’s not yet perfect – VSTP movements aren’t included, and there are some performance-related bits to tune up, but it’s a good start. Feedback on this feature is really appreciated – drop me a mail.

The changes to the Crewe map to make signal aspects visible a couple of weeks ago has now kicked in, a little later than expected.

There are just two pieces of news this week.

First, the Rugeley Trent Valley to Crewe map and the Wolverhampton map have been updated to reflect the resignalling this weekend at Stafford. Both Stafford No 4 and Stafford No 5 signalboxes have been taken out of service, with control now at the Rugby Railway Operating Centre (ROC).

Further south, the London Bridge map has been updated to reflect the work carried out under the Thameslink programme. I’ve also taken the opportunity to put on some route indications on the low level side of London Bridge, although some of the data is unclear and at times, it may appear as though conflicting routes have been set. If you spot this happening, please get in touch and let me know the date and time so I can fix it.

There are also some invisible changes which will help the site run better and smoother. There were problems on Friday afternoon with maps freezing, making for a frustrating train journey for me, trying to fix them whilst suffering from poor mobile reception.

So, until next time – enjoy :)

// Peter

What's New – 23rd August 2015

I’ve not been in good health for most of this week, laid low for most of the week and unable to do much. However, I’m feeling better now and I’ve just pushed out a minor release to fix a few issues.

Last Sunday’s release accidentally rolled out a new feature that wasn’t quite ready – real-time train tracking. I decided to leave this on, but later found all trains queried on-the-day or historically were an hour out from their actual timings. This highly irritating bug (affecting me too, as I use my own website for getting around) should be fixed now, and trains from tomorrow onwards will display correct timings. It didn’t affect any future schedules, and many people use the website for looking up future planned changes.

There were also some problems with the real-time maps lagging behind reality during peak times. This is fixed too – although if you still notice maps lagging, please let me know.

Finally, good news if you run IE8 – some of the code on the site is now lighter and uses more basic technology, which means features such as the location selection dropdown on the front page will now work.

That’s it for another week. Next week’s release, which will probably be on Tuesday evening, will see an updated map of the Stafford area.

// Peter