It’s that time of the day again. You’re a bit sleepy after lunch, your motivation has completely collapsed, and you know, in your heart of hearts that you're not getting anything else done today.
But it’s still not quite late enough to start very slowly packing up your stuff or smiling round at your colleagues and optimistically muttering, “Pub?” Basically, you’ve just marking time.
So, here’s a map showing the location of almost every train on Britain’s National Rail network, that should help kill a few hours.
The busy south London rail network.
It’s the work of Raildar (geddit?) which describes itself as “a leading website providing up to date Train information”. If you pay for subscription you can get access to all sorts of exciting things like station dwell times and detailed performance data. You also get a year’s historic performance data which means, I think, that you can check whether the 0903hrs from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly ran on time on a particular day last June.
But if you’re a strictly amateur nerd, there’s lots of free stuff to play with too, including track layout and junction maps...
This is the Euston/King’s Cross area. Click to expand.
On the dynamic version on Raildar's website, you can literally see trains moving around the network.
I find such technical maps pretty hard to read, though (odd, given my obsession with tube maps). So I went straight to the geographically accurate Rail Radar section, which is literally just Google Maps with live train movements superimposed on top. The trains are coloured by operating company; and you can click on them to find out where they’re going and how late they’re running. That includes both local trains:
And long distance ones:
This train just outside Edinburgh is going all the way to Plymouth:
Which is going to take a while:
In some ways, the most fun – for a certain value of fun – is to be found by comparing the big cities. London is pretty crowded with trains:
(This isn’t even all of them – it doesn’t include any of the TfL-run services.)
Here’s the north west at the same scale:
Okay, that area has about half London’s population, but that looks like a lot less than half of London’s trains. Although these chaps might have a point:
@CityMetric The north-west isn't normally *quite* that deserted. Liverpool Lime Street still being cut off has something to do with it!
— Greener Altrincham (@GreenAlty) March 7, 2017
West Yorkshire looks much the same:
And the West of England is practically deserted:
Perhaps the data is incomplete, but at the time I took this screenshot, the map wan’t showing a single train anywhere in the county of Cornwall.
The map is definitely not comprehensive. It doesn’t show routes run by Transport for London – not just the tube, but not TfL Rail, either. (The Overground seems to be on there.)
This sort of makes sense at first glance – this is National Rail, after all – but it does show trains on Merseyrail, so who knows. I was going to write that it shows the Tyne & Wear Metro, too, but on closer inspection I can only find one train, and I’m fairly sure the Tyne & Wear metro has more than one train running right now..
More vexingly, the Anglia Rail lines to Southend seem to be missing, too. There may well be others missing from parts of the country I’m less familiar with, too.
Anyway – even if it isn’t perfect it is a lot of fun, assuming you’re a train nerd, which I’m guessing you probably are. And you can do useful things with it like check how late your train is running, too, if that’s your bag.
It’s good. You should play with it, is what I’m saying here.
(Hat tip: thanks to Sophie Mew for being kind enough to alert me to map’s existence.)
All images courtesy of Raildar.