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.
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.
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 email@example.com if you notice any errors on the map – it’s a complex one behind the scenes!
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!
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.
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.
Although it feels like we’ve been slow to churn out new maps, you’d not think it if you looked back at progress over the last fortnight.
We’ve just made this week’s release live. In it, you’ll find the new Southampton map covering Worting Junction (now on the slightly extended Esher to Basingstoke map) to Hinton Admiral and filling in our coverage on the Hinton Admiral to Weymouth map. The West of England map has been extended too, and covers Grateley, Andover and Overton up to Worting Junction, plus Dean, Mottisfont & Dunbridge and Romsey to both Eastleigh and Redbridge.
The keener eyed amongst you will note that the Southampton map is drawn with London at the right and Bournemouth on the left. We’re in the process of revising how we draw maps of the routes out of Waterloo – our original plan several years ago is proving difficult for trains out of Waterloo, which is the only terminus in London that we consider to be in the lower-left quadrant of a fictitious circle around London. We are planning to switch the direction of the other maps, but we need to write some software to correctly realign all the elements. So, for now, please accept our apologies!
In other news, the Exeter and Westbury maps have the missing signals between the maps added.
We’ve also fixed route indications on the Darlington map, which should now show correctly for all trains entering and leaving the south side of the station.
Everything else is minor and not worth calling out individually. If you’ve reported a problem to firstname.lastname@example.org, you should have had an email when the problem has been investigated and/or fixed. If you need to report an issue, it’s best by email – we can keep track of it, rather than trying to pick up potential issues from Facebook, Twitter, email and the blog!
Until next time, enjoy the Bank Holiday!
Another Sunday is upon us, and having looked back at the last fortnight, it doesn’t seem like there’s much going on from a casual glance. But we’re hard at work on some other projects with train operators to bring an industry-strength version of OpenTrainTimes to operational staff. If you work in the industry and want to see how we can help you bring greater situational awareness to your operations, please get in touch!
We’ve had many requests to join up the Westbury and Exeter maps, covering Tiverton Parkway and Taunton, so we’ve extended the Exeter map for you! We’ve also launched our 100th map – this time of the Sunderland area, controlled by one of the Tyneside IECCs. This joins up with the Newcastle map and covers the Tyne & Wear Metro to South Hylton, and down to Hartlepool.
We’ve also fixed a very subtle bug which caused train schedules not to be properly updated from 25th April to 9th May. The problem was due to corrupt data we received, and we’ve done a thorough investigation in to what happened and how to fix it.
The next update will be in a fortnight’s time – hopefully with our Warrington area map finished, plus some of the smaller, more detailed maps for suburban parts of the railway.
There isn’t a big update this time unfortunately – it’s hard to justify sitting in a cottage in North Yorkshire doing work when you could be out having fun – which is exactly what’s been happening! However, we have some significant things that have just gone live on the site.
- You can now search for locations and find the right map instantly! No more having to remember which map has Long Buckby on it – just click on the Maps link, enter a station name in the "Jump to a location" box, and click the "Show map" link to go straight there. We’re still working out how to make it such that you can click on the location and it’ll jump to the map – but we wanted to release this feature early since it’s been requested many times
- The last ten maps you’ve viewed on a device are now shown in the "Recently used maps" part of the maps page. The last map you visited is at the top, with the nine previous ones beneath it. Useful when you need to refer to several maps during the day
- The route-based listing of maps is now tidied and the maps in each route are now hidden. Don’t panic – clicking on "East Midlands" or any of the other routes on the maps page will bring up the familiar map listing
- And finally, the Romford to Ingatestone and Billericay map now reflects the changed track layout at Shenfield, which will be in passenger use soon. Further signals on this map will also now show a signal aspect
Minor things, worthy of a mention but not a fanfare, include Ilkeston station being added to the East Midlands maps, platform numbers fixed at Preston, route indications and Lea Bridge station added to the Bethnal Green to Chingford, Enfield Town and Cheshunt map and some signals on the East Coastway map being put in the right place.
We’re still hard at work in the lab, working on new maps, enhancements to existing maps and the next big thing. All our maps are drawn by hand during non-working hours, and we think they’re the best darned looking maps out there! We always want to bring you more, but we have to go to bed sometimes…
Until next time, stay safe!
Over the last month, we’ve been busily working away on some other projects to keep the bills paid and the lights on. Don’t worry – we’re not going away and we’re not going to ask for donations!
This time, we have our 99th map – of Broxbourne to Shelford, neatly linking up with the Letchworth to Waterbeach map and completing our coverage of both routes up to Cambridge. We’ve actually had that map ready for a couple of weeks now, but it’s not a good idea to release new code and maps when you’re about to jump on a long-haul flight.
We’ve also updated our very popular London Bridge map has been updated for the Easter weekend works, as well as the usual bug-fixes and enhancements. Amongst the fixes are platform number and spelling mistake fixes, missing berths added, additional routes and stations added (such as Cambridge North), and a few less visible issues.
Until next time, and the 100th map, keep safe and remember: never use OpenTrainTimes for any safety-critical activity!