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 – 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 – 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.

What’s new – 20th August 2017

As explained blog post earlier this week, we’ve had a bit of a hiatus. But we’ve just released the new Bristol Parkway to Newport map, with extensions to the Swindon map to cover a few signals past the fringe between two signalling areas of control, and some extras on the Gloucester map to add Chepstow.

Please get in touch at support@opentraintimes.com if you notice any errors on the map – it’s a complex one behind the scenes!

August 2017 Update

Things have been quiet over the last couple of months, so it’s time to give you an update and tell you what’s happening.

Keeping the public version of OpenTrainTimes entirely free is not easy. Working long hours to bring in the money to cover rent, bills and the occasional holiday takes a lot of time and energy. The sort of work I carry out isn’t a normal 9-to-5 job either – it’s impossible to leave at 5pm and not think about creative solutions for the problems you’ve discussed that day. Some days, I’m still working at 10pm to do the best possible job I can.

Occasionally, other projects come along that take up all my free time. That is precisely what’s happened over the last couple of months – I’ve been working with some very talented people on a new product which involves lots of fresh thinking and creative ideas. That project is starting to wind down again, so I’m back in the hot-seat and ready to work more on OpenTrainTimes.

Thanks to everyone who’s been in touch to ask if everything’s OK – I’m coming to the end of almost 20 days of back-to-back work after a few frantic weeks being airlifted in, metaphorically speaking, to rescue somebody else’s project.

The good news is that we have a brand new map of Bristol Parkway launching on Sunday. This gives us full coverage of the Great Western Main Line all the way from London to Bridgend. Alongside the new map, there are some fixes to the Gloucester map which we released back in June.

After Sunday’s release, it’ll be a busy week to prepare for several changes to maps as a result of engineering works over the August Bank Holiday, and we’re hoping to release the maps on Monday afternoon, ready for Tuesday morning.

And after that? You can expect more maps, more real-time information and even better insight in to how the railway’s running. There’s also lots of work going on to scale the site up so it copes with the continually increasing demand. Most of that will be invisible, but in the next few months, we’ll have some minor changes to how the website looks to allow us to roll out new features.

In summary, don’t worry – OpenTrainTimes is still open for business!

What’s new – 25th June 2017

Monday’s problems on the website has caused us to scale our release plans back a bit to make sure the site’s stable. Some of the work we’ve done since Monday has involved adding in extra monitoring to check that our fixes have been successful and, so far, they have been.

So, what have we added?

The biggest thing is the new Gloucester map, which links up with the Bromsgrove and Swindon maps, covering Gloucester to near Chepstow, Stroud and Stonehouse to Standish Junction, Gloucester Yard and all the way up to just outside Bristol Parkway. We’re planning to extend our coverage westwards too.

We’ve also fixed numerous little things, from platform numbers and junction links on the Warrington map, to missing signals between Crewe and Winsford, some TVM430 marker boards which should have been limit-of-shunt markers at Staines, and missing signals at Worting Junction. We’ve also taken off the schedule count on the Schedule Search page, which was causing inefficient database lookups and contributing to Monday’s issue.

Thanks to everyone who’s been in touch over the past fortnight – it’s time to sit in the remains of the sunshine with a glass of wine and chill out for a bit.

What’s new – 11th June 2017

The last fortnight has been hard work, but we’re very pleased to bring you more maps!

  • The Crewe (exc.) to Leyland map fills in the gap between the Crewe and Preston maps, covering Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan North Western stations
  • The Southampton area map now has route indications in a number of places, and more to come
  • The Letchworth to Waterbeach map has now been extended up to Kings Lynn, linking up at Peterborough (although with a massive gap in train describer coverage) and to the Ely to Norwich map
  • The Thameslink Core map now has route indications throughout, especially useful south of Blackfriars

As always, a number of smaller issues have been fixed, and we’re grateful to everyone who’s emailed or contacted us to report small inaccuracies in our maps.

And finally, we’re currently working through the backlog of support requests – there are about 30 waiting to be answered, and a mixture of quick and not-so-quick tasks. If we haven’t gotten around to replying, we will do soon.