Coming Soon to Rail Record This June 2020

Coming Soon to Rail Record This June 2020

The features outlined below are now live as of June 1st. VSTP alerts can be set with a member area account at

We have a couple of new features to share once the current COVID-19 pandemic clears up. These new features will be available in June 2020. They are already tested and complete and available to a small number of users. Once self-isolation clears, we will make them available publicly.

VSTP Alerts

VSTP Alert EmailThis alert feature was on our plans a while back but never materialised. This new alert trigger can be set on the alerts page of your member account when available. The operation for this is simple. You choose a location, a date and time, along with your trigger criteria, and we’ll check for VSTP schedules at that location, before notifying you when one is created.

VSTP train alerts can be set on a one-off or on a recurring basis. For best results, we recommend a recurring alert; this will continue notifying you of any news VSTPs at your chosen location. You can unsubscribe at any time, as well as set specific filters for the VSTP alerts.

Below, a list of the criteria and their functions:

  • Location – type in a location and a dropdown list of locations will appear – just like on the live train times.
  • From Date – the date at which to begin checking created VSTPs from. Default is now.
  • Passenger VSTPs – When checking for new VSTP schedules, include passenger services in the check.
  • ECS VSTPs – When checking for new VSTP schedules, include Empty Coaching Stock class 5 services in the check.
  • Special VSTPs – Include railtours and freight services.
  • Starts Here Checked – include VSTPs for services that originate at the location you have selected, regardless of their terminating location.
  • Terminates Here Checked – include VSTPs for services that terminate at the location you have selected, regardless of their origin location.
  • Recurring – Continue sending emails for every new VSTP schedule with your aforementioned criteria, until cancelled. Applies only to email alerts.
  • Delivery Method – Choose between email, both email and SMS. There are some restrictions for SMS. The following apply to SMS VSTP alerts.
    • If 1 VSTP is found, the details of the VSTP, along with a link to the schedule, are included in the SMS.
    • If up to 5 VSTPs are found, the pass/arr/dep time, origin and destination of each of the services is listed in the SMS, without links to each.
    • If more than 5 VSTPs are found (unlikely unless you’ve backdated the VSTP date check) then we’ll tell you how many VSTPs have been found, but not include details of each (due to SMS character restrictions). Instead the SMS will advise you to check your emails for details of each.
    • Because we cannot include opt-out in SMS due to the character limitations, after the first SMS is sent, the delivery method will change to email only.

The interface can be found below, on a mobile device in landscape orientation.

Vstp Alerts Rail Record Members Area
On larger screens, the two sections will be side by side. On smaller screens they’ll be one beneath the other. VSTP alerts can be created under your account alerts page of the members area.
  • By leaving all passenger, ECS and special checkboxes disabled, you’ll receive VSTPs for all 3, on the assumption you’re not bothered about setting filters for these.
  • By leaving Originating and Terminating checkswitches disabled, you’ll receive VSTPs for passes only.

Faster Train Alert Delivery

Speed at which the schedule alerts (activation, first movement, reaches location, cancelled etc) has been made faster. This is in effect now.

Additional Reporting Information

Screenshot of a special service that hasn’t left its origin, but is found on the signalling diagram TD feed – usually a sign that a service is a runner in most cases. This is what powers our pre-movement notice alerts.

This new feature applies only to freight train schedules and special services. An additional movement header may be shown at the top of a timetable, which shares location information from Train Describer reporting information.

Train Describer is what is used on railway signalling diagram websites.

No Report? No problem.

As well as showing TRUST reports (which is what is shown in the live running column of the timetables), we will additionally display a reporting metric at the top of schedules, based on reports from Train Describer feed. The TD reports heading will provide an estimate of the train’s current location based on its location on the signalling diagrams.

Potential Pitfalls

There are several limitations to the TD movement heading, which may mean that it isn’t shown on some freight train services.

  • Two trains have been activated with the same headcode, and more than 1 location is reported at one time. We can’t match the location to the headcode because the same headcode is in 2 locations. This is why it is only available for freight services at this time.
  • A train is running in a part of the network which doesn’t have Train Describer reporting, such as some parts of Wales and Scotland.
  • At times of data outages, the TD feed may present latency and delays in information being shown. There isn’t a lot we can do about this other than if the TD report was received greater than a certain time ago. Also one of the reasons this feature isn’t available for passenger services, as it may produce contradicting information. To resolve this, we may integrate this with the TRUST timings but this may not work particularly well with when a train goes off-route.

Potential Benefits

There are a number of reasons we have implemented this new reporting feature.

  • If a train goes off route, or diverts from its booked timetable for whatever reason, you’ll still be able to track its location.
  • Occasionally RHTT and test trains can mess up the reporting on the timetable (e.g shows 900E somewhere). The TD movement heading will show its current location (if available) along with the time it reported there.
  • Because there are multiple TD berths between TRUST reporting locations, we can provide more accurate location information through this.

Note: The TD header is self updating and the page does not need to be refreshed to reload.

Potential Advancements

There are a number of other prospective possibilities that are achievable using the Train Describer information. We will investigate these possibilities in due course to provide better reporting metrics. Feel free to comment below if you have any other ideas you’d like to see on the website.

Author: matt

Owner of Rail Record

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