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Creating Timetables.

    Writing & Submitting Timetables for use with PC-Rail Simulations

    With the inclusion of the Timetable Editor to the range of PC-Rail Simulations (except Champaign) this powerful Editor has now become available to all. These notes are intended as a guide to writing PC-Rail Working Timetables (WTT's) and submitting them for use by other users.

    Obviously, whilst encouraging everyone to write new timetables we need to ensure certain standards are maintained as one would expect from a PC-Rail product. Therefore all timetables, prior to release, are thoroughly tested to ensure that it can be run well, trains can be run to time (with 2 minute allowance set as standard) and all those little spelling errors are spotted. Plus we like to see notes added where it helps the operator know where trains have to go and various shunting moves to help you on your way. Please note we also have a policy to only have on test one timetable at a time per author. This keeps things manageable and to make sure one timetable is satisfactory tested and released before another one is uploaded to the test site.

    Before starting a timetable please check that no one has already created one, or started to write one. Existings timetable authors can check the WTT Yahoo Group (invite only) and check the Timetable Status file. If you are a new writer please check by e.mailing me with your proposed timetable and I can check and advise you. This check may save you a lot of time and effort beforehand.

    What do you need? 

    To write a timetable for say Westbury you obviously need the simulation of it. Then you need the source of the information. This is normally obtained from working timetables produced by the railway for the period in question. The older they are the more difficult, and expensive, they are going to be. Working Timetables were not public timetables and was issued as a "Private and not for Publication" document.  This can make it difficult, though not impossible, to obtain. Seasoned wtt writers may have collected these over the years for perhaps a certain period or location.  I have a few boxes myself stored in the garage. Brought from various venues over the last few years.

    Some sources where they can be obtained :-

    • On-line auctions such as eBay. []
    • Railway Swop Meets such as one held at the Great Central railway 3 times a year. []
    • Current working timetable information can be obtained from the Network Rail web site. [Network Rail]
    • Heritage Railways Shops and Cabins. Many of the groups on the sites have their own shops to raise funds for projects. Many have old railway timetables.
    • Railway Auctions. A quick search on 'google' will bring up many sites to check.
    • National Archives, Kew.
    • Having the right Contacts, knowing folk in the industry for current or modern documents.

    It was usual for Working timetables to be produced for various areas and divisions of BR and it's predecessors. In addition there were separate timetables for Passenger and Freight trains and also in the 70's wtt's for 'conditional' traffic as well which ran as required. To even further complicate matters additional trains where also run using STN's (Special Train Notice) and Trip trains with some local freight and shunting requirements issued in another separate document.  Some locations, e.g., Sheffield, would require 2 or 3 passenger wtt's from the various areas plus freight. All in all it can therefore be seen to be a difficult task to have a 'full set' as it were for a particular period.

    Public Timetables have been used by some authors but are lacking in detail sufficient to provide enough information unless other additional information, say freight times, are available.

    As well as working timetables there are now "Station Working Books". These are an excellent source for passenger workings and usually include the WTT Ref No, Times, Platform Numbers, Motive Power Details and other notes such as stock disposal or what trains arrivals form etc.

    Motive Power : Ian Allan Combined volumes and locosheds books contain shed allocations and would help determine the type of motive power used. Another source is photographs in railway books and magazine and various forums and newsgroups on the Internet. 

    Writing the Timetable

    Now you have obtained all the data you require you can now commence writing the timetable and entering all the data. 

    Some considerations to make before you start :- 

    Time to start and finish, thus determining length of timetable.
    Some authors and users prefer a full 24 hour timetable starting at 00:01 and finishing at 00:00.  If you start at midnight the early hours may not contain enough trains to maintain interest. Operators don't want to be watching say one train moving across the layout with nothing else to do.  Then again there is the time advance and skill level's which can be changed to speed this part up. Some passenger services started around 05:00 - 06:00 so you may choose to start the wtt around this time.

    Motive Power - Class or Full?
    The author can decide whether he wants the Motive Power information to show either just the Class, e.g., Class 60 or the Class and the actual loco number such as 60 032. Obviously the latter will take more time and care will have to be taken to ensure say the same number isn't used on obvious trains, i.e, ones appearing at the same time or impossible combinations. The writer can select this in the WTT Editor using the [properties/MP set up option]

    Entering the data.
    I'm not going to go into too much detail here as I don't want to duplicate information which is already in the help files of the WTT Editor. I would highly recommend you read these so you know how to add, amend, delete trains, dealing with motive power information and linking departures to arrivals. However, before you actually enter the data you may decide to write all the information down first on paper from all the different resources you have then enter the details. Or you may get stuck straight in and enter the details from the original documents.

    Either way you need to know at least the following :

    • WTT Ref Number. e.g., 2H04.  You can of course make your own up which is sometimes necessary when duplicates are used.
    • From : The line the train enters the simulation on.  There may be many of these and it may be idea to print the diagram for reference. I use the 'print screen' button when the track layout is shown then copy into word to print out.
    • To : The line the train leaves to area.  As above you need to know which to select.
    • Times : arrive, depart or pass.  As well as the main station you may have other stations in the area of the simulation so check if it stops at these as well.
    • Motive Power : Enter the details as required. If you haven't the exact information you may have to make an estimated guess here depending on the year, location etc.
    • Length : Again you may have to guess for loco hauled coaches and freight. As long as it is reasonable there shouldn't be too much of a problem.
    • Max Speed :  Information on the various locomotives and units usually indicate the maximum speed. This is different to track speed which the simulation will run the train up to or it's maximum speed which ever is the higher of the two.
    • Notes. There has been much discussion on these and over the years some standards have been adopted.  The following notes give some guidance as to conventions used .

    Guidelines for Timetable Notes

    The first line of the Train Notes should be the Train description.

    For simulations with more than one station:
    All trains should be shown as: “hh:mm Origin – (or to) Destination”.

    For simulations with only one station:
    Terminating trains may be shown as: “hh:mm from Origin”
    Departing trains may be shown as:    “hh:mm to Destination”.

    Train descriptions such as 07:00 DMU from Hatfield should not be used as the ‘consist’ shows that the train is a DMU.  The correct format is 07:00 from Hatfield. However it is acceptable to use 07:00 Mail from Hatfield as the ‘consist’ does not indicate the specific type of rolling stock or purpose.
    Similarly it is unnecessary to detail the next working unless this is not linked in the Timetable, however it is an advantage to show the next use of the Locomotive if it is to be uncoupled from the incoming train and of incoming Empty Stock.
    The notes for Empty Stock (ECS) should be in the form:

      “ECS for hh:mm Destination”


    When a second line is used to give more information, the first line may need extending to 25 characters by using spaces for some of the earlier simulations.

    Additional notes provided for information only should be in square brackets […].

    Eg “[10]” indicates that the train usually uses Platform 10. Note that later sims have the facility to enter the Platform information in the Timetable Editor.

    Notes giving mandatory information should be in curved brackets (…).

    Eg “(Released Loco [as 0A18] used for 17:35 1A18)” means that the Loco must be used for Train 1A18 departing at 17:35 and it is suggested that it be described as 0A18, which is an unused Reporting Number in the timetable but will assist in remembering the next use of the Loco.  The departure time of the outgoing train may be omitted if desired.

    When a train splits into two or more portions, the incoming train should be linked to the earliest departure and the notes should include:

    “(front <X> forms nCnn hh:mm Destination, next <X> forms nCnn hh:mm Destination, rear <X> forms nCnn) hh:mm Destination)”.

    <X> is the number of vehicles or sets and nCnn is the Reporting Number of the new train.  The Notes for the earliest departure should include a similar note, excluding its portion.  Other portions, except the last, may also need similar notes.

    Other notes giving general information are not included in brackets.

    “Joins Manchester portion at Crewe”, or “Freightliner” are typical examples.

    Where an incoming train is intended to be coupled to one already in the platform or siding, the first train should be linked to the outgoing train and other portions should not be linked to another train but should have a note “Joins (or “Couples to) nCnn”  where nCnn is the description of the outgoing train.

    Abbreviations should be avoided, however the following typical examples are acceptable:

    CCD Coal Concentration Depot

    CS  Carriage Sidings

    DMU Diesel Multiple Unit

    Dn  Down

    ECS Empty Coaching Stock

    EMU Electric Multiple Unit

    E&V Engine & Brake Van (EBV is an alternative)

    FLT Freightliner Terminal

    Gds Goods (only when used as a place name eg Gds Yd)

    I/C Incoming (Used in notes eg: I/C loco forms 0L01)

    Jcn Junction

    LD  Light Diesel

    LE  Light Engine

    MPD Motive Power Depot (Loco Shed)

    Pcls    Parcels (only when used as a place name eg Pcls Sdg)

    PS  Power Station

    Sdg(s)  Siding(s)

    St  Saint (eg St Pancras) or Street (eg Liverpool St)

    Yd  Yard


    Station Names may be abbreviated, but not the locality name, other than London.

    Liverpool LS = Liverpool Lime Street but Lpool LS is not acceptable.

    Euston = London Euston

    A typical example of the notes is:

    08:30 Kings Cross – Hatfield


    (Released Loco [as 0A16] used for 08:50 5A16)

    Timetable Notes should indicate the date the timetable represents and should also give details of the source documentation.

    Details of the meaning of the Train Reporting Numbers should be given as this can change depending upon the date of the timetable.

    Similarly the shed codes (where used) should also be detailed in the timetable notes.

    It is often useful to include any special operating notes in this area.


    Once the notes section is completed you have now completed the entry for one train.  Now all you need to do is enter the other 300 or so trains! This will of course take much time and I find it difficult to maintain interest in this part, especially if one is to avoid entering mistakes.

    Under the timetable properties you can enter notes and information on the background of the timetable and period chosen. Again, a quick look at some existing timetables will give you some idea of what to put. This information, or part of it, is used on the timetable description on the download section of the web site as well. Also don't forget to put your name in the acknowlegements together with others who may have helped obtain information etc.

    Testing The Timetable

    Before submitting the timetable the author should read through the notes of each train in the editor to check for errors, preferably run it though to see if all is well and it can be run at 100% or near punctuality without late running selected. Once this has been done the files can be submitted (see below) so that's testing by the testers group can be started. We have a small band of dedicated timetable testers, some are authors as well, who run the timetable to check it and report any findings or queries to the testing group. The author can read and reply to these reports and maintain a 'master' version of the timetable if any changes are made or errors corrected.  WTT Authors are invited to join the PC-Rail WTT Forum which is hosted by Yahoo Groups similarly to the PC-Rail Discussion forum. Messages from testers will be sent to all group members which helps in duplicating messages of similar errors etc.  Once the testers are happy with the final version the 'master version' timetable files can be submitted to PC-Rail services for inclusion on the timetable download section.

    Submitting the Timetable Files

    The easiest way to submit the correct files is as follows :

    Using Sheffield as an example.

    1. Open the appropriate timetable in the WTT Editor.
    2. Click on the option 'Tools'.
    3. Click on the option 'export'.
    4. Click on select and make a note of the location of the files. e.g., in Sheffield say the export copies the files to a folder export/wttag003.
    5. Find the folder using say 'my computer'. In this case it can be found under C:/Program Files/Pcrail/Sheffield/Export
    6. Compress the folder into one zip file. (For help here refer to windows help - Compress a file or folder)
    7. Use your e.mail programme and attach the file to the e.mail and send to

    Once the timetable is submitted, as well as being held in great esteem by fellow PC-Rail users, as a token of our appreciation will can supply you with 2 free timetables of your choice or 50% discount off a PC-Rail simulation.

    We hope these notes help you to write timetables as this is one of the great assets of PC-Rail. Please let me know if they do, or don't as the case may be, and also if there's anything else I should add.

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