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All across the Great Western territory => Smoke and Mirrors => Topic started by: froome on December 01, 2019, 10:13:53 am



Title: Delayed
Post by: froome on December 01, 2019, 10:13:53 am
Trains are often now shown on platform screens just as 'delayed' but without any explanation of why or any suggestion of when they might arrive. This extremely frustrating, and on unstaffed stations, particularly late at night, this really isn't acceptable. An example from last night.

We were returning from Stroud to Bath Spa via Swindon in the late evening and were caught up in all the delays caused by an issue between Didcot and Swindon, so we ended up an hour late home (after midnight). However, that is not the problem.

For those travelling the other way, i.e. from Swindon through Stroud to Cheltenham and Gloucester, their train was just described as delayed on the screen at Stroud, and from what I could hear (from the other platform), calls by people waiting appear to have gathered no useful information. Their train was 25 minutes late when our train left Stroud, and when we pulled in at Kemble I looked to see what the screen there was saying. It just said 'delayed' (by now about 50 minutes late) but there was just one man stood on the platform, which appeared to be in total darkness, who I could see was shouting towards our driver, presumably asking for any information. It was freezing cold last night, and I know precisely how that man must have felt. No information to say whether he should go off and find somewhere to keep warm, so he was having to just stand around on a dark platform waiting for a train for which the only information available was delayed. As it was, he would have been much better advised to catch our train to Swindon (which was then due to return along the line back towards Cheltenham), where he could have at least kept warm, but by the time our train pulled in, he wouldn't have had time to do that (our train was also running late).

I appreciate that situations where 'delayed' is used are due to nobody knowing when an issue will be resolved, but a bit more explanatory information would be helpful, in this case as an example might even have been a life saver...

You have someone left stranded alone on a dark platform with no information in freezing weather. If the screen had said that the train was held up between Didcot and Swindon and unable to move, and advice is to travel to Swindon and wait there, then he could have made that choice.


Title: Re: Delayed
Post by: Timmer on December 01, 2019, 11:12:58 am
I think you hit upon a frustration to be found up and down the land by passengers waiting for a train when the dreaded ‘delayed’ appears or is announced by automated announcement as it isn’t able to tell you something you don’t already know. Not so bad at a station that is staffed where an announcement by a human can be made if of course they know what’s going on.


Title: Re: Delayed
Post by: IndustryInsider on December 01, 2019, 11:16:14 am
Yes, there’s still very much a human can do that a computer can’t to add a bit of detail and finesse here and there.  Something that is often lost on most industries, not just the railways, I feel.


Title: Re: Delayed
Post by: grahame on December 01, 2019, 01:09:17 pm
There are occasions - and this is one of them - where things co-incide ... as you were posting (or perhaps a few minutes after), Froome, I was at Melksham Station watching the 10:47 to Swindon change to 10:49 and then to DELAYED.  Cue very serious concern (not quite panic) on the part of people waiting there.   It had gone from on time, to slightly delayed, to "I don't know when your train will be along".

Being in the know ... (1) an IET had just gone through on the single track and (2) The 10:47 was shown as being between Trowbridge and Melksham and (3) the system says "delayed" if the train takes significantly longer than it should between two reporting points ... I was able to let people know that the train was waiting for the train that had just gone through to get out of the way, and estimate that the delay would be around 5 minutes.

Granted "delayed" was correct ... but if I as an informed station friends volunteer can work it out, it shouldn't be beyond the means of some clever programmer chappie or chapess to come up with a more fine tuned headline. "10 minutes away, awaiting signal"  would be appropriate for a train that has left Chippenham but is not cleared through signals 1293 and 1297, or for a train that has left Trowbridge but is not cleared through signal 119.  And if that's too long a message for the box available, "See detailed message", where the is plenty of space for that longer text.   Shouldn't be rocket science, shouldn't need manual interventional every incident.


Title: Re: Delayed
Post by: froome on December 01, 2019, 01:34:00 pm
There are occasions - and this is one of them - where things co-incide ... as you were posting (or perhaps a few minutes after), Froome, I was at Melksham Station watching the 10:47 to Swindon change to 10:49 and then to DELAYED.  Cue very serious concern (not quite panic) on the part of people waiting there.   It had gone from on time, to slightly delayed, to "I don't know when your train will be along".

Being in the know ... (1) an IET had just gone through on the single track and (2) The 10:47 was shown as being between Trowbridge and Melksham and (3) the system says "delayed" if the train takes significantly longer than it should between two reporting points ... I was able to let people know that the train was waiting for the train that had just gone through to get out of the way, and estimate that the delay would be around 5 minutes.

Granted "delayed" was correct ... but if I as an informed station friends volunteer can work it out, it shouldn't be beyond the means of some clever programmer chappie or chapess to come up with a more fine tuned headline. "10 minutes away, awaiting signal"  would be appropriate for a train that has left Chippenham but is not cleared through signals 1293 and 1297, or for a train that has left Trowbridge but is not cleared through signal 119.  And if that's too long a message for the box available, "See detailed message", where the is plenty of space for that longer text.   Shouldn't be rocket science, shouldn't need manual interventional every incident.

Exactly. On the screen at Stroud, I kept watching the delayed train show all information anyone could possibly want - how many carriages, which zone to stand in etc - except the most vital bit of information, where the train was. It could easily have said it was between Didcot and Swindon, and then people would at least have had an inkling. But it didn't.


Title: Re: Delayed
Post by: Adrian on December 01, 2019, 05:24:42 pm
"Delayed" seems to mean that a train hasn't left a station or passed a timing point within a certain time of when it was predicted.  When the reason is that another train has been pathed in front of it, the system doesn't seem to be intelligent to make an appropriate re-calculation, and give an updated delay.

The same issue sometimes means that an earlier predicted time is given for a train that is following one showing a later time.  This, of course, means they show in the wrong order.  When the first train arrives in the platform the system sorts itself out, but that doesn't stop some passengers who weren't paying full attention from getting on the wrong train.

In these days of AI, railway information systems seem still to be remarkably stupid.


Title: Re: Delayed
Post by: stuving on December 01, 2019, 05:44:46 pm
I suspect it works like this:

The ETA predictor is based on the timetable itself plus numbers for the timing slack so it can predict recovery. (Of course if the reason for losing time is still present, any ETA based on recovery will keep slipping.) For that to be worth doing, the train has to be on the move - so if it isn't, the ETA is "delayed".

For anything more clever, you are looking at (as a minimum) some model of the track layout, how trains interact, signalling...in other words the signalling system. Worse, the bit where the relevant knowledge is kept is route setting - people (signallers), or an ARS. Nether was equipped with a direct interface you can plug into the CIS to transfer an explanation of what it expects to happen next.

Now, what about TM (traffic management), which is being tried out at the moment? It sounds as if that does sneak its tentacles inside the ARS and observe what it's up to - is there anything there that can help predict better ETAs?


Title: Re: Delayed
Post by: paul7755 on December 01, 2019, 07:46:47 pm
I think this word “delayed” appears in the “expected time” slot on a typical 3 line display, I doubt it can actually display anything much more detailed in that position.  It’s also likely it is displayed long before the exact reason has actually been worked out.

But is it really better than just letting the calculated time edge ever upwards like they used to do?

Paul


Title: Re: Delayed
Post by: janes on December 05, 2019, 01:57:39 pm
What annoys me is when the train is actually standing in the platform but the screen is showing as "delayed" and then it just leaves without updating a departure time first. This seems to happen regularly at Reading for example - so if you are on the concourse or the footbridge and the train you want is showing "delayed" you would not exactly be breaking into a sweat to make it to the platform, when in fact the train is about to depart imminently and the doors close just as you are coming down the stairs/escalator.

I have been caught out by this more than once and have seen penty of other people just miss trains in this way too. Surely there must be some way to address this e.g. an announcement saying that "The delayed XX:XX to YYYY is almost ready to depart - please can any passengers wishing to board this train make their way to the platform now" or something?



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