Crunching rail timetables

For those of you new to this blog, I’ve been doing some work with timetable data for a few months now, and I presented my work at OpenTech with Jonathan Raper earlier this year. I’m working with some other people to bring more information about the rail network out from behind the scenes and in to the hands of the public so people can innovate and analyse the data, and ultimately to increase transparency and accountability. Importantly, I am also pro-rail and looking to improve on what we have.

So – it’s taken a while, but TSDB Explorer can now load an entire ~500Mb CIF format timetable in around an hour on an average machine. Whilst I can undoubtedly improve this, it’s a lot better than the previous three days and multi-gigabyte monstrosity I wrote previously.

Several people are interested in the format of the CIF file, and I’m going to put a set of slides together soon to explain it. Hopefully David Cameron’s recent letter on open data will help make Network Rail-source CIF timetable data more prevalent, and my “How To” guide will lower the barrier for other people to write timetable analysers, produce train frequency graphs, generate pocket timetables, etc.

Watch this space – these are very exciting times.

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