Plot To Replace Printed Timetables With QR Codes

Ianno87

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Exactly that. A paper display won't help in times of disruption.

Quite a lot of departure list posters don't even bother to list Saturdays and Sundays anyway due to Engineering Works regularly rendering them inaccurate.
 
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Bletchleyite

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"But what about my Nan travelling from Ulverston to Brundall Gardens with heavy luggage, three kids and a pushchair, with no smartphone at 10 o' clock at night in February in the rain?!"

Ulverston might be a good example, as it had a knackered PIS for a very long period of time last year, it may well still be broken. If printed timetable posters are to be removed then we really do need to consider the PIS to be an essential and not something to do when you get round to it*, and for the railway to have e.g. portable temporary units which can be put in place (padlocked to something so they don't get nicked) very quickly.

Most people indeed do have mobile phones, but there has to be provision of some sort for those who don't.

* The departure list screen by the lift on Bletchley P4 has a broken line and has had for about 5 years now despite me reporting it repeatedly.
 

AlterEgo

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Ulverston might be a good example, as it had a knackered PIS for a very long period of time last year, it may well still be broken. If printed timetable posters are to be removed then we really do need to consider the PIS to be an essential and not something to do when you get round to it*, and for the railway to have e.g. portable temporary units which can be put in place (padlocked to something so they don't get nicked) very quickly.

Most people indeed do have mobile phones, but there has to be provision of some sort for those who don't.

* The departure list screen by the lift on Bletchley P4 has a broken line and has had for about 5 years now despite me reporting it repeatedly.
Is Ulverston not staffed? It strikes me as the sort of place that would be?
 

londonteacher

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Ulverston might be a good example, as it had a knackered PIS for a very long period of time last year, it may well still be broken. If printed timetable posters are to be removed then we really do need to consider the PIS to be an essential and not something to do when you get round to it*, and for the railway to have e.g. portable temporary units which can be put in place
Exactly that!
 

DelW

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Exactly that. A paper display won't help in times of disruption.
And electronic displays won't help when they're just displaying "Welcome to Xxxxxx", which seems to happen quite regularly on my line.
 

Bletchleyite

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Is Ulverston not staffed? It strikes me as the sort of place that would be?

It has a booking office but it is not open all the time. Pretty much only Merseyrail has the booking offices all staffed for the full period of service - even Euston's isn't! (though other staff are of course around)


Ticket Office:​


Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday 06:00-19:30
Sunday 08:00-18:15

And electronic displays won't help when they're just displaying "Welcome to Xxxxxx", which seems to happen quite regularly on my line.

I think it definitely needs to be part of the new National Rail Contracts that the PIS at any given station must be working (or an alternative provided, be that a portable unit or a member of staff with a smartphone) with a suitably high level of availability, e.g. 99.5% or thereabouts (100% uptime for IT systems is unreasonably expensive), and hefty penalties for failure to do so. That financially induces the operator to ensure they have something available as a substitute.

Displays out of order for months (as happens a lot) must not be tolerated if the posters are to be removed.
 

midland1

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The PIS only tells you the times for the next hour or so, what if you want to look for times 6 hours or so later. Like a train back home after your day out.
 

Bletchleyite

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The PIS only tells you the times for the next hour or so, what if you want to look for times 6 hours or so later. Like a train back home after your day out.

...then you can look at that once you arrive at your destination. Most bus stops only show departures from that stop, usual practice is to go to the stop and have a look when you arrive.
 

londonteacher

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The PIS only tells you the times for the next hour or so, what if you want to look for times 6 hours or so later. Like a train back home after your day out.
Look before you go? I tend to look at the times of the last train back before I go out for the day!
 

Doctor Fegg

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...then you can look at that once you arrive at your destination.
If I arrive at Oxford station at 10am then the PIS isn't going to tell me about my return train c. 5pm.

Look before you go? I tend to look at the times of the last train back before I go out for the day!
That's nice. I think what this thread is telling us is that (shock horror) people have different use cases and behaviours.
 

londonteacher

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If I arrive at Oxford station at 10am then the PIS isn't going to tell me about my return train c. 5pm.


That's nice. I think what this thread is telling us is that (shock horror) people have different use cases and behaviours.
As per the article, only 1% use them. So, no need at all of waste £2m on it.

If you end up at a station with no idea about trains because you have not looked earlier then that is your fault. What this thread is telling us is that some people are stuck in the past and it seems like the 1% are some people on this forum!
 

Bletchleyite

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If I arrive at Oxford station at 10am then the PIS isn't going to tell me about my return train c. 5pm.

And nor I think do the posters at that station! Larger stations tend to have the "departure list" type, not the "full timetable" type where you can find that out.

For instance nowhere at Euston will you find any poster stating when the trains back from Manchester are.
 

alistairlees

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I wonder what all the PIS costs annually? Assuming it's present on 2,500 stations, and needs replacing every 20 years (as well as maintaining / data inputting via ROCs etc.), leading to an annual cost per station of £20k (a total guess; clearly there are very different size stations), then it would cost £50m. Which is about 25% of the cost of the posters, on a per station basis (I wonder where they got the £2m in the article from too?).
 

Alex C.

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Do most stations across the network have help points? I know all of SWR's do - for those who need it, using the information button on the help point is likely* to get you a far more accurate picture than a poster which was potentially printed months ago and doesn't take into account any short term alterations/engineering work.

Having timetables available on TVMs would also seem to be a very simple solution which would just require some software development, no significant capital expenditure.

*Appreciating that NRE do not have the best reputation, and maybe a good use of the £2m would be to bring them in house as part of GBR alongside improving training and standards... but that may be a tad optimistic.
 

PeterY

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good idea. make it happen asap. Lets join the 20th century rather than living in the 19th

I bet almost all of the 1% referred to are on this board!
Sadly, I'm one of the 1% :D :D I manage quite well without a smart phone.

I love timetables. :wub::wub:
 

philjo

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I know several people who regularly travel by train and do not own a mobile phone or computer so they use a printed timetable.
Perhaps a journey planner should be available in TVMs with the option to print the summary timetable results in the same way you can get a bank statement from the bank ATM.
 

Bletchleyite

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I know several people who regularly travel by train and do not own a mobile phone or computer so they use a printed timetable.
Perhaps a journey planner should be available in TVMs with the option to print the summary timetable results in the same way you can get a bank statement from the bank ATM.

That's another good idea - Deutsche Bahn's TVMs will do that for you, and have done for years.
 

HamworthyGoods

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I wonder how the 1% equivalent get on abroad in counties like France, Germany, Belgium and Netherlands where printed timetables are a thing of the past!?
 

James H

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Printed timetables and posters serve a different purpose to journey planners - both have a place.

Journey planners are not so good at helping you understand the overall pattern / scope of the service and it would be worth developing modern ways of conveying this information.

A PDF of a document that would have been on paper in the past isn't necessary best, either.
 

zero

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For me, studying poster-sized printed timetables at stations is the only way I can fully understand the service pattern, and this knowledge has proven useful to get me back on track after a delay. There isn't enough space on a phone or even a desktop computer screen to see all trains at once. However I accept the point that very few people do this and the cost-benefit ratio may not justify continuing to print posters.

In Germany, I frequently use the printed large poster that shows every train departing that station (and also the large posters that show precisely where every IC/ICE train stops on each platform), because it's often hard to gather the information I need quickly from the electronic screens which only show a summary.

I recall seeing printed timetables in Belgian stations, and French local stations, on my trips in 2019. These were useful because the websites are rubbish (I normally use bahn.de but it only shows information in hourly chunks).
 

Bletchleyite

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For me, studying poster-sized printed timetables at stations is the only way I can fully understand the service pattern, and this knowledge has proven useful to get me back on track after a delay. There isn't enough space on a phone or even a desktop computer screen to see all trains at once.

What you want is a tablet with a high resolution screen where you can view timetable information in detail, e.g. an iPad.

But as I was saying above, most major stations don't show you that kind of timetable, just a list of departures. Nowhere in Euston will you, for example, find a timetable showing the times of trains from Manchester back to Euston. (There are "full" timetables for the LNR routes but you really have to go and look for them).
 

philjo

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I wonder how the 1% equivalent get on abroad in counties like France, Germany, Belgium and Netherlands where printed timetables are a thing of the past!?
Most European stations still show a printed full timetable poster of departures from that station, which also include detail such as platform number and the length/formation of the train so you plan in advance which section of the platform you will need. The electronic displays also show the carriage formation. Much better information than is available in Britain.
 

Bletchleyite

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Most European stations still show a printed full timetable poster of departures from that station, which also include detail such as platform number and the length/formation of the train so you plan in advance which section of the platform you will need. The electronic displays also show the carriage formation. Much better information than is available in Britain.

The chronological layout, however, is not at all useful for finding out the most common question asked - "when is the next train to X", nor are they much use for finding the trains back from your destination. They also often don't show all calling points for the trains listed. And don't get onto when given trains don't run every day...

They are one of those things that is very much a "we always did it like that" thing without really considering what the use-cases for station departure information actually are.
 

The exile

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What you want is a tablet with a high resolution screen where you can view timetable information in detail, e.g. an iPad.

But as I was saying above, most major stations don't show you that kind of timetable, just a list of departures. Nowhere in Euston will you, for example, find a timetable showing the times of trains from Manchester back to Euston. (There are "full" timetables for the LNR routes but you really have to go and look for them).
Don’t think anyone was suggesting they should - but when you arrive at station b, the pis may well tell you when the next train back to a is, but not when the ones “at teatime” will be. Nor will it help you to find the options which require a change en route.
As far as “ only 1% of people using posters” is concerned - what a surprise. For most of the last two years there haven’t been any to look at!
 

Horizon22

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Let's also not forget that even pre-Covid, printed timetables (in racks) weren't always easy to find - usually only stocked at major stations anyway.

Only suggests that the most determined of passengers actually use them (and many of those could use other methods and choose not to)

I do get the impression that some have sought out to make this an issue by purposefully doing so even though the individuals concerned could easily use other sources of information.
 

nickswift99

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QR codes are great, but
1) they're not secure - so wherever they're printed they need to be tamper proof, and
2) You need a guaranteed mobile signal (not wifi - that's not secure either) to be able to follow the link.

This second point will exclude a significant number of rural stations.
 

Bletchleyite

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QR codes are great, but
1) they're not secure - so wherever they're printed they need to be tamper proof

No, they don't. This is yet another example of "perfection is the enemy of the good".

We are talking about timetable information, not your credit card details.

I think QR codes are a bit moot, though, as I can't imagine there are many people who have a smartphone and travel by train with any kind of regularity and don't have some form of railway app (99% of the time probably Trainline, but it doesn't overly matter) on it.
 
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For me, studying poster-sized printed timetables at stations is the only way I can fully understand the service pattern, and this knowledge has proven useful to get me back on track after a delay. There isn't enough space on a phone or even a desktop computer screen to see all trains at once. However I accept the point that very few people do this and the cost-benefit ratio may not justify continuing to print posters.

In Germany, I frequently use the printed large poster that shows every train departing that station (and also the large posters that show precisely where every IC/ICE train stops on each platform), because it's often hard to gather the information I need quickly from the electronic screens which only show a summary.

I recall seeing printed timetables in Belgian stations, and French local stations, on my trips in 2019. These were useful because the websites are rubbish (I normally use bahn.de but it only shows information in hourly chunks).
I agree with this. If there is a big gap between services in a place where you are stopping off, the posters help to be able to spot this.

I am pretty sure that the German ones are heavily used.
 

Doctor Fegg

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And nor I think do the posters at that station! Larger stations tend to have the "departure list" type, not the "full timetable" type where you can find that out.

For instance nowhere at Euston will you find any poster stating when the trains back from Manchester are.
I think we've got crossed wires here - my (frequent) use case for printed timetables is when I travel in from Charlbury to Oxford; I look on the live departures from Charlbury to find when the next train is and catch that; but then I need to figure out what time the trains are home. So I use the departure list at Oxford for that. I can't use the PIS at Oxford because (fairly obviously) it only shows the next screen's worth of departures.
 

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