New Alert Mode Available: Pre-Movement Alerts

New Alert Mode Available: Pre-Movement Alerts

Rail Record Text Message
SMS alert showing the pre-movement notification, followed by the movement notification over an hour afterwards. The pre-movement notification provides an early warning, when a train is soon to depart in most cases.

From today, a new alert mode is available: pre-movement alerts. This new alert aims to detect the presence of a train in the signalling system before the train’s journey begins. Therefore, when the signaller inputs the headcode into the signalling diagrams, the Rail Record website will notify you, either by SMS or email, whichever you have set.

When might this be useful?

Pre-Movement Alerts can be useful in a number of scenarios, such as:

  • A WTT schedule that gets activated regularly, but tends to get cancelled because it is not required to run (cancellation code FL), you’ll be notified that it’s on the diagrams and likely to run on this occasion.
  • When you need more more notice than the Rail Record first movement alerts.
  • When an engineering possession train has come out of the possession and onto the stretch of track where the signalling system is working, prior to the train leaving back to the yard. Engineering trains can sometimes leave incredibly early or late. If you’re at the closest station to the possession before it leaves, this can be handy as it would trigger before it actually leaves giving you an early warning.
  • In some rare occasions, a train might not even report its first, or any movement, at all until later in its journey. This new alert will hopefully alert you before it leaves, so you can check the diagrams on a website such as Traksy or Opentraintimes maps so you can see when it leaves.

Pre-Movement alerts can only be set on services with a distinct head code for now. This includes freight trains and special workings such as railtours. The reason being, some passenger and ECS services use the same headcode across the country. For example there might be a 2L15 at Brighton, and a 2L15 in Glasgow. Intending to receive the pre-movement alert for Glasgow, you might end up getting false alert from Brighton. So with the distinct headcodes like 649P and 6Z29, where other trains are less likely to use the same signalling ID, it makes this alert feature more stable.

The use of the train describer system will also prove useful for future development of Rail Record train movement alerts. At present, Rail Record uses the train movement TRUST feed to notify you about train movements, but with TD, Rail Record will be able to provide notifications about train movement, before they start reporting on the schedule timetable page. Again, this feature would only be available for freight and other distinct headcodes in order to avoid false notifications.

It may also be possible to run these alerts quicker than the existing 5 minute alerts. In some cases, the train might leave a few seconds after it shows up on the diagrams, and so pre-movement and first movement notifications come through at the same time. Therefore faster alerts are definitely something worth looking at.

We have some more ideas in the pipeline to maximise use of the train describer information available to us, hopefully bringing some exciting uses not seen on any other train times websites.

I hope that this new alert is useful for trains waiting to leave freight yards, engineering possessions etc. Especially those services that don’t always run, and you need a bit more notice than the Movement Alerts.

Rail Record members area users get 3 free SMS credits when joining, and up to 15 email alerts can be set at any one time free of charge. When logged in to the members area, alerts can be set at the bottom of a train schedule page. Additional SMS can be purchased with PayPal.

I drive around a lot but because I cannot use my phone while driving, I end up missing rare trains. I can connect my phone to the car radio via Bluetooth to receive SMS alert. This new alert feature will be useful on my way home from work as i’ll get told if my local marine aggregates train is running so I can stop by and see it without breaking the traffic laws.

– Happy user of Rail Record alert system

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