Thursday 23rd February was the busiest day ever on the site – we had over twice the number of visitors to the site and at one point, had well over a thousand users viewing our live maps. Our continual monitoring and service improvement meant we only had a single alert from our monitoring system – and that was a warning rather than an error.
Looking back over what happened that day, we’ve dug out the trains which arrived at their destination the latest. Virgin Trains’ 0840 Glasgow Central to London Euston arrived 351 minutes late at 1901 vice 1310, and on the freight side of things, the 2022 Cardiff Tidal to Mossend arrived 488 minutes late.
We’ve been busy over the last few weeks bringing you two new maps, one updated map and a brand new feature. All of these have been requested by a number of people over the last few months and whilst we can’t always drop all our plans to implement something new, we can shape what happens long-term.
For the impatient, here are the most important bits of news:
- Each map now has three checkboxes at the bottom – "Signal Numbers" will toggle signal numbers off and on, "Signals" will do the same for signals, and "Berths" will only show berths with descriptions
- The Retford to Colton Junction map extends our coverage of the East Coast Main Line up to Doncaster
- Going further north, the Bentley to Holbeck Junction map covers the route through Wakefield Westgate up to just south of Leeds
- We’ve also updated the Leeds are map, tidied up some of the lines and added route indications to the south side of the station
- The Hinton Admiral to Weymouth map now has indications displayed in the Dorchester West signalbox area
For anyone who’s still here and hasn’t rushed off to look at the Doncaster map, there are a bunch of smaller things, including updating the Great Eastern Main Line maps for the imminent move of Shenfield IECC to the ROC at Romford, fixes for signals, berths and routes not showing correctly, and updates in the Queenstown Road area outside London Waterloo, an extension of the Westbury map to include Bradford Junction.
Phew. Time for a cup of tea…!
It’s been three weeks since the last release, and we’ve been hard at work bringing you numerous bug-fixes and improvements, as well as three very important map updates:
- The Manningtree to Norwich map extends our coverage of the Great Eastern Main Line up through Ipswich to Norwich. Whilst we have signal aspects for most of the map, route indications aren’t supplied as default by the train describer, and we’re working on calculating them
- The Airedale Valley map covers the suburban lines from outside Leeds to Shipley, Ilkley, Bradford Forster Square and Skipton – with full route coverage
- The West Ealing to Airport Junction and Heathrow now has full route coverage!
Some of the smaller, but still important changes include:
- Coverage of Allington Junction getting signal and route indications (although the data from the train describer isn’t complete)
- The misconfigured and mispositioned berths at Macclesfield, Heaton Chapel and Levenshulme are fixed
- The bay platforms at Reading and Newbury, which previously didn’t show trains terminating in the platform, will now show the last train to enter the platform
To everyone who took the time to get in touch over the past few weeks – a massive thank you. We log every email we receive to the support email address and try our hardest to get issues fixed as quickly as we can. Sometimes this takes a while, so if you’ve been waiting patiently, sorry!
And now we’re done for another few weeks. The next map will be a secret, but is one that’s going to be really popular!
It’s a day later than anticipated, but there’s a good reason. We’ve been hard at work on the site and ran out of time yesterday evening – we’ve managed to get 51 individual tasks sorted out, which is more than we planned!
First, the important bits. We have three brand new maps and one updated map:
- The Wilmslow map extends our coverage up from Crewe to Wilmslow, with route indications as far as Wilmslow
- The Macclesfield map joins up with the Stoke-on-Trent map at Kidsgrove and reaches all the way up to Levenshulme, north of Stockport, with route indications from north of Prestbury, including Edgeley Junction and Stockport
- The Ely to Norwich map covers the route through Thetford wth signals and route indications and will join up with the Norwich map, which we’re currently working on
- The West Ealing to Airport Junction and Heathrow map extends the previous map of the area through Southall and Hanwell and West Ealing to Ealing Broadway and London Paddington
We’ve also had a blitz on the bugs and issues you’ve raised over the past weeks, so hopefully we’re now on top of things. Just as a reminder – you can get in touch with us at email@example.com if you spot a problem with a map, and we’ll look in to it for you.
So, that’s it for another fortnight. We’re going to be taking a short break and will be back with the next release in three or so weeks time.
Happy New Year! Over the festive period, we’ve been hard at work updating several maps as a result of infrastructure changes, and we’ve just made these changes live. There wasn’t enough time to get very many bug-fixes put in place, but we’ll be working on those next.
Here are the updates:
- The new Cardiff Central to Bridgend map covers the newly-resignalled Cardiff Central area west to Bridgend. The Vale of Glamorgan route will be coming in a later release, as well as the other routes in the area
- On the London Bridge map has been updated with the Down Sussex Slow line open, and the 8 Down line taken out-of-use
- At London Paddington, we’ve updated the map to show the changes to platforms 12 and 13, plus we’ve extended the map to cover up to Ealing Broadway and added the link to the new Crossrail depot
- The West Drayton to Twyford map has been updated to show the a new turnback siding and provision for stabling sidings at Maidenhead
We’ve also upgraded our infrastructure to cope with the growing number of visitors to the site daily, so 2017 should see an even more robust service!
Some of us aren’t fans of winter – it’s too dark and grey for too long. But looking on the bright side, it’s the perfect opportunity to keep OpenTrainTimes up-to-date with new maps and fixes!
This time, we have two items of note.
- First, as a result of a request from a regular user of the map, the Purley to Tattenham Corner and Caterham map now contains route indications – although some aren’t provided in enough detail from Three Bridges to be able to show them all at Purley.
- Secondly, still on the Southern region, we have a brand new map of Tonbridge (exc.) to Hastings (exc.), which fills in the gap between the Brighton Main Line and the East Coastway line. This route is signalled at the north from Tonbridge (although curiously Ashford controls Tonbridge station) with signals prefixed ‘PE’, fringing with Robertsbridge at the single-line between Wadhurst and Stonegate, and the southern end from Bopeep Junction.
We’re also hard at work on the Wembley Freight map, which is hugely complicated but looking impressive, and for Christmas, a new map of Cardiff Central, plus updates to the Great Western maps and London Bridge.
And as always, there are numerous small issues fixed:
There are other fixes, but if I were to list them all out here, you’d lose interest.
So, until next time – enjoy watching the trains!
It’s a couple of days later than planned, but we have a whole heap of changes on the site which have just gone live.
The headlines this time:
However, nobody’s perfect and there are always a lot of smaller fixes. Some maps have been linked together where these links were missing, spelling mistakes have been corrected, mispositioned crossovers and missing pointwork.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be preparing for the Christmas works around London Bridge for the Thameslink Programme, the recontrol of Cardiff PSB and Crossrail works between Westbourne Park and Maidenhead. There’s also work to be done complete the sizeable Wembley Freight map, as well as tackle some other areas of the country by popular request.
So, until next time – enjoy the new maps and feel free to get in touch with any problems by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!