Prototype HST power car aids development of new Realtime Trains reporting

Posted on November 19, 2014

Prototype HST power car continues legacy as development testbed, pioneering new Realtime Trains GPS-based reporting

swlines Ltd is pleased to announce the successful first test of a new reporting system for Realtime Trains this past Saturday, during HST prototype power car 41001’s first passenger run in over 35 years on “The Screaming Valenta” tour, from Ruddington to Loughborough and back via the Great Central Railway (Nottingham.)

The 125 Group and the Project Miller team have supported the development of the new Realtime Preserved Trains system, which receives its data from GPS units attached to the train. This allows trains on heritage railways to ‘report in’ to Realtime Trains as if they were a train on the mainline network, complete with live running times and predictions.

The Project Miller team generously allowed the attachment of these receivers to 41001 in time for its run—fitting in light of this power car’s heritage as a testbed and pioneer for new technologies. Gary Heelas, Chairman of 125 Group, said: "The Realtime Trains system has become an immensely popular tool amongst those in the railway industry and public alike and the broadening of its use to preserved lines is a welcome move which 125 Group and the Project Miller team are only too happy to support. We will continue working with swlines Ltd to refine the system in the hope it can be deployed on further preserved locos in the future."

Realtime Preserved Trains is a combined hardware and software system, and is nearing the final stages of development and testing. When it is finished, it will be available for all interested heritage railway operators or rail preservation groups in the UK. The system’s components will also be available for any mainline operators looking to provide more accurate, reliable and timely realtime information and predictions for their own services.

As a gesture of thanks for the assistance provided and as part of a new effort to support preservation projects, swlines Ltd was pleased to donate £2000 to Project Miller to further their efforts.

For further information about The 125 Group and Project Miller, please see and For further information about Realtime Preserved Trains please email

Realtime Trains for iPhone

Posted on February 24, 2014

It has taken longer than than we expected but we are pleased to announce the release of Realtime Trains for iPhone.

Realtime Trains for iPhone is available now on the App Store for £2.99. We've also reduced the price of our Android app, on Google Play, by 25% to £2.99. The iPhone app brings many of the features of our Android app, and website, to a native app for iOS 7.

You can:

  • Quickly find departures and arrivals for any station in the UK, by their name, their three letter code or using your phone's location
  • Find any train from any station. Filter them by where they're going. See exactly where the train is, and see if it’s approaching, rolling in, or ready to go. Get ahead. Know when to run!
  • On some high-frequency routes, you’ll get an at-a-glance "countdown" view of the next trainslist of trains with an easy countdown timer in the corner, so it's fast and easy to see how many minutes you can expect to wait
  • See the platform number as soon as it’s confirmed in the system—sometimes well before they're announced at the station. Great for beating the crowds and nabbing that all important seat!
  • You can favourite individual trains for easy access, individual stations, or even filtered routes (such as “all trains from London Waterloo to Basingstoke.”) You can also pin timetables to the app's home screen, which downloads them for offline access

The next step for our mobile apps will be to introduce our detailed mode to passenger services and we'll be bringing those to both iPhone and Android in the near future. First, though, we'll be bringing iPad support to the iOS app, which will be released in the coming weeks.

Realtime Trains is now used by more than 100,000 people every month, passenger and enthusiast alike. We hope you enjoy using our new iOS app! If you have any feedback, suggestions or problems, don’t hesitate to email us at

Realtime Trains for Android

Posted on September 25, 2013

We are excited to announce the release of Realtime Trains for Android, the first in a series of mobile apps.

Realtime Trains for Android is available on Google Play for £3.99, starting today! It brings many of the features that we integrated into our website, relaunched last month, into a native app available on your phone.

You can:

  • Find your nearest stations by location, or search for any station by name or three letter code
  • See live departures or arrivals for any station, anywhere, any time. See where and when your train has been, and where it will be.
  • Keep getting to the station just in time to see your train rolling off into the distance? We’ll show you if the train’s on the approach to the station, rolling into the platform, or is already there and about to leave… so you know when to run!
  • On some high-frequency routes, you’ll get an at-a-glance list of trains with an easy countdown timer in the corner, so it’s fast and easy to see how many minutes you have until each one leaves.
  • Find out which platform your train’s leaving from as soon as we know (usually quicker than it goes up on the boards at the station!) You’ll see the planned platform to start, taken from the timetable. When it turns bold, it’s been confirmed: your train is approaching, or at the platform right now.
  • Create an alarm for your train’s departure or arrival—never miss your stop again!
  • Keep a list of ‘favourite’ trains, for convenient access
  • Download the timetable for a particular service so you can access it without a signal

This release is just a first step for our apps. At the moment, the app only supports passenger trains, but we're working on bringing the detailed mode to mobile in the coming months. Realtime Trains for Android requires Android 2.3 or later, and is optimised both for smartphones and tablets.

We’re also working away at our apps for iPhone and iPad. We plan to start testing for this in the coming weeks, so if you're interested in helping us test these, keep your eyes peeled for announcements on our apps page!

Welcome to Realtime Trains v2.0

Posted on August 23, 2013

It has been a long time coming, but I’m pleased to finally announce the launch of Realtime Trains, version 2. The site has been overhauled, tweaked, optimised, coiffeured and improved in more ways than you can shake a stick at, both under the hood and in terms of the interface.

A lot of work has gone into this release, especially adding platforming information to more stations. Quite a few people were involved in this laborious effort, and they deserve all the gratitude in the world. I’d also like to add a special thanks to all those who tested the site in its beta phase (who also never got to see the final product before release!)

What's new?

The first thing you’ll notice is a fresh, clean design. This design is responsive, which means it scales nicely regardless of your screen size — whether you’re using a PC, a tablet or a phone, it formats itself to fit, so it’s easier than ever to get the information you want on the move. We’ve also overhauled the simple view.

Also new is a quick search bar, at the top of every page (behind the menu on mobiles.) This makes it a snap to search for a station (with the station name or three-letter code), direct trains (for instance, SOU to BMH), or specific trains by running ID. Just type and hit return for all matching passenger trains. Go advanced to search the whole database: stock moves, freight trains, the lot!

You’ll notice that when you look up live arrivals or departures, the URLs now look pretty and predictable (for instance, /search/basic/RDG/to/ACT.) A nice bonus is that you can now bookmark these, for instant access to your favourite live departures boards!

There are more great new features for commuters. We’ve all found ourselves stood at the edge of the platform, peering into the distance for any glimpse of the train’s headlamp. Now, Realtime Trains shows you if the train is approaching the station, arriving and rolling to a stop in the station, or standing in the platform and boarding. This feature doesn’t work everywhere and isn’t always reliable, depending on the data we get, but we’re working on and it’s getting better all the time.

On many “metro” style routes, the trains are now so frequent, all you need is a countdown to the next train. Realtime Trains respects this. Now, on the live departures boards, trains run by London Overground and Merseyrail in the next hour will show the number of minutes’ wait for the train, rather than the traditional “timetabled/expected” combination. We’ve also added live running information for Metropolitan line trains on the section between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Amersham, where they share track with Chiltern Railways services. Don’t worry: you can still see the expected arrival in the traditional format by going advanced!

There are loads of extra refinements, too, in addition to some drastic changes under the hood. There’s a new system for handling train cancellations, so you can find out why, when and where a train was cancelled. A brand new processor and reporting engine allows us to make better, more precise predictions than ever before.

This new reporting engine means major improvements to the data we can provide. The first version of Realtime Trains mainly used the “TRUST” train running information system to work out where trains are, with some Train Describer (TD) signalling data to supplement it in the South West Trains region. Version 2 turns this on its head. We now predominantly go straight to TD to work out where trains are: it’s more accurate, more immediate, and we’ve even managed to get some trains to report their realtime arrival and departure times with quarter-minute resolution!

There’s even more improvements for edge cases. Trains that split, or join other trains en-route, have a new, improved look. Buses and ships are now shown with distinctive icons, and they fit right in to the departures boards.

Finally, you can now look up trains in the past. We keep the data for 7 days, so if you’ve ever wanted to find out just how late that train was last week, now you can!

After substantial work, Realtime Trains now has an API! This means that developers now have a way to write applications which use our data on train movements and predictions. There are more details on the information page.

Use of the API is free for light non-commercial use, and competitively priced for commercial apps. We’re already working with a few partners to incorporate the open data. One of our partners is was launched in January 2006 and was the first website to streamline the process of claiming compensation by collecting delayed journey information from passengers, posting them online and automatically populating a delay repay form. Seven years later and with over 22,000 registered users, will shortly be re-launched using the recently available open rail journey data provisioned through RTT. Initially the data will be used to augment the passenger provided information but with the ultimate aim to be completely driven by open rail journey data.

This is just the beginning. We hope that developers will take the API and come up with some really exciting things. Ever thought you could do a better smartphone app for rail departures? How about a departures board especially for your office, so you can time leaving work perfectly? Now’s your chance—hop over to the API page and happy hacking!