Live information on steam locomotives thanks to the partnership between Swanage Railway and Real Time Trains

Live train information is now available for the first time on a heritage railway thanks to the Swanage Railway and real-time trains and a grant from the Culture Restoration Fund.

Digital displays in 1950s-style bulletin board frames will give up-to-date information about trains, including the locomotive that carries them and the facilities on board. These cards have been installed at Swanage and Corfe Castle stations, and further cards are expected to be installed at Norden and Harmans Cross.

This live train information is now also available on the trains website in real time.

Screenshot via Real Time Trains website

This is all possible thanks to a partnership between the Swanage Railway and Real Time Trains, which provides live train information to three million passengers per year.

The new system works with GPS equipment that has been installed in the wagons, which then returns the position of the train via mobile phone networks.

For the past 14 months, Tom Cairns has been working on the Know Your Train feature on Real Time Trains. It has hosted Locomotive Services Ltd, Avanti West Coast, Northern and GB Railfreight, among others, but the Swanage Railway is the first heritage railway to join the program.

Real-time train information screen Corfe Castle Station
Credit: Andrew PM Wright

Swanage Railway Passenger Services Manager Trevor Parsons said: “We are very grateful for the innovative and imaginative technical expertise of Realtime Trains in producing such an attractive, clear, concise and attractive, constantly updated for our passengers.

“Housed in traditional 1950s bulletin board style frames – the type that displayed timetables in the days of steam trains – the new digital displays are a very effective mix of old and new; the best of our railway heritage with the best of up-to-date information technology.

“The Swanage Railway is always looking for ways to further improve the information we give our passengers to keep them informed, and we are very grateful to the government for their £ 223,200 grant from the Recovery Fund. culture for heritage – which was awarded to us in the fall of 2020 – part of which was used to pay for this important improvement, ”added Trevor, who is also a volunteer guard and flagman on the heritage line.

Tom Cairns, Founder and Operator of Realtime Trains, said: “It’s wonderful to see the new system up and running – I wanted to incorporate the visual aspect of Swanage Railway’s heritage brand with a modern twist that was visually appealing and engaged the public interest.

“We completely designed the hardware and software for the new system. Train passengers everywhere – whether on the main line or on a heritage line – want more information, so it’s important to find a way to deliver accurate, live and useful information to customers.

“Realtime Trains has built a new software package combining the strengths of our mainline information platform with the understanding of heritage and private train operations to provide passengers with clear and up-to-date information in the same way as mainline train operators can do this.

“The Swanage Railway contributed to the development of the new system and we are delighted with the results. The work is new to my current national rail network mainline train information system and has required me to follow a different path of technical development, ”added Tom, who lives in Bournemouth.

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