TransWilts CIC and TransWilts Community Rail
Public and sustainable transport in Wiltshire

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On the problems of a printed train timetable

My mailbox brings me notifications that someone got on the 20:00 from Paddington on Saturday night last heading for Chippenham, according to our printed timetable ... only to discover too late that the 20:00 was actually a Penzance train last Saturday, and the Chippenham service had left at 19:57 ...

Unfortunately, weekend engineering works can mean that train times aren •[99]t consistent on Saturdays and Sundays and at present that •[99]s especially true, with engineering works in association with crossrail, with electrification of the main line, and with the replacement of Swindon signal box in addition to routine replacement works on the network. Where this closes some lines, timetables are adjusted for the trains to get through, sometimes slowing expresses down as the main line trains have to share the relief lines with slower services. If you take a look at most GWR stations, you •[99]ll find posters telling you where these changes are each week, and just at present (February and March) there are calendars on display in Wiltshire giving a brief overview of what •[99]s happening over 10 weekends in the two months and into April, where the first half of the month is disrupted significantly.

Specific notices and online booking systems can and do take account of individual weekends, but general timetable leafiest (especially printed ones) face their providers with a bit of a problem. We could add footnotes on (it feels) just about every time given stating when it •[99]s going to be earlier or later - though ever that •[99]s a problem as engineering plans change and what was expected in November when our December to May sheet was drawn up wasn •[99]t fully detailed. Experiments have shown that large numbers of footnotes, or lots of columns for trains on different dates, confuse rather than clarify the situation, and in common with other printed timetable suppliers we add a caution. In bold it says  •ÜAmendemnts to published times •[9d] and then the text says  •ÜPublic Holiday and Rail Improvement Works may effect services in this timetable  •æ. For the latest timetable information, please visit the Great Western website or download their smart phone app •[9d]

When talking to someone ahead of a journey, I would always recommend that they check the departure screens / board just to make sure the train •[99]s calling at their destination / changing point, or is headed to a destination they know is on the right line; even going to the  •Üusual platform •[9d] at Paddington can lead to some nasty surprises, and going on time alone is risky as there •[99]s numerous occasions where two trains leave Paddington at the same time, on parallel lines, for different destinations.

As to what should appear in printed timetables - do you have any suggestions that might help? The problem of keeping it straightforward enough, and long-living enough to be useful versus showing all the differing weekly changes by just a few minutes that we •[99]re seeing at present is a very real issue for us and constructive inputs that point us and others as to how to solve this would be welcomed with open arms. We •[99]re not yet at the point (I don •[99]t think) where we throw printed timetables away complete, but the day may come  •æ

And - I •[99]m sorry you ended up on the wrong train  •æ I hope you didn •[99]t get too far / weren •[99]t inconvenienced too much when you realised.
(written 2016-02-15, updated 2016-02-16)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Z406 - TransWilts Community Rail Partnership
  [4739] A year of changes for Lisa and Graham Ellis, and Well House - (2017-05-27)
  [4726] TransWilts Partner Update for Melksham Area Board - (2016-11-07)
  [4706] Melksham trial train service is to be made permanent - (2016-10-02)
  [4704] Three months in community rail pictures - (2016-08-27)
  [4695] Melksham Rail Development Group becoming Melksham Rail Users Group - (2016-06-21)
  [4688] Melksham Station - as at May 2016 - Part 5 (services and prices) - (2016-05-30)
  [4638] TransWilts Community Interest Company AGM - 13 Feb 2016, Swindon - (2016-02-05)
  [4612] TransWilts - robust these days - no longer the first service to be cancelled - (2016-01-03)
  [4601] Management view - TransWilts and transport at the end of 2015 - (2015-12-25)
  [4568] Moderation - and the tendency to over-moderate - (2015-11-02)
  [4513] Yesterday, Weymouth - (2015-08-02)
  [4512] The Weymouth Wizard - Saturdays in August from Wiltshire - (2015-07-31)
  [4510] Learning from the others - Community Rail - (2015-07-12)
  [4500] The TransWilts Community Intergrated Transport Corridor - (2015-05-29)
  [4497] Around the world from Melksham - (2015-05-25)
  [4494] Monday to Friday / TransWilts train times from 18 May to 11th December 2015 - (2015-05-17)
  [4467] Neighbourhood Plan - travel and transport thoughts - (2015-03-29)
  [4463] Rail Conference, Nottingham - (2015-03-16)
  [4435] Images of our rail promotion campaign - (2015-02-21)
  [4424] Looking Forward - TransWilts Community Rail Partnership and TransWilts CIC - (2015-02-12)
  [4397] TransWilts / Press and Publicity report for AGM / 30th January 2015 - (2015-01-17)
  [4371] Why are people using the TransWilts? - (2014-12-29)
  [4362] What a difference a year makes - (2014-12-23)
  [4353] Celebration pictures, year 1 - (2014-12-15)
  [4351] A little thing can make a big difference - (2014-12-13)
  [4343] Politics and the railway the connects Wiltshire - (2014-12-06)
  [4328] Folk music train, Westbury to Swindon round trip, 14th December 2014 - (2014-11-24)
  [4313] Moving community rail support from amateur to professional - (2014-11-16)
  [4309] Even in the dark of night, the train comes bearing passengers - (2014-09-28)
  [4291] Train Online article - ACoRP / TransWilts introduction - (2014-07-25)
  [4288] Some questions on how our Community Rail Partnership works - (2014-07-13)
  [4287] TransWilts CRP - walking in Melksham Carnival - (2014-07-13)
  [4284] Talk and walk to promote train service - Melksham Carnival - (2014-07-11)
  [4243] Taking Greyhounds and Lurchers to London for the day - (2014-02-23)
  [4229] Thin end of the wedge - plan to be thicker in 2014 - (2013-12-26)
  [4225] Melksham Resident? Commuter? Save yourself 2000 pounds and 100 hours in 2014, and have a better journey! - (2013-12-20)
  [4219] TransWilts train services - up from 2 to 8 per day - (2013-12-09)
  [4218] A THANK YOU to those who have brought the new train service to fruition - (2013-12-06)
  [4198] New trains for 2014 - Swindon to Westbury. Meetings Melksham, Swindon, Trowbridge, Chippenham and Westbury - (2013-10-24)
  [4196] Official - Trowbridge and Melksham to London train improvements - (2013-10-22)
  [4194] TransWilts Link - meeting notes from 19th October - (2013-10-20)
  [4191] Getting people to and from Melksham Station - not 20 but 700 times a day - (2013-10-12)
  [4163] TransWilts Community Rail Partnership - formally constituted - (2013-09-01)
  [4160] Bank Holiday Monday - pictures of a great train trip to Weymouth - (2013-08-27)
  [4148] Special General Meeting, Adoption of Constitution for TransWilts Community Rail Partnership - (2013-08-01)
  [4142] Passenger survey at Chippenham - report and pictures - (2013-07-24)
  [3986] Rail services in Wiltshire - up in the air? We need to say what is best required. - (2013-01-20)
  [3881] Wiltshire Public Transport User Group co-ordination - (2012-10-05)


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On the problems of a printed train timetable
Sometimes you wonder about people. And perhaps you should not.
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From last July (2015)
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