Understanding a TOPS List

Understanding a TOPS List

A number of railway websites and gen messages provide occasional TOPS lists and locomotive location reports. These are useful to identifying the locations and current workings of freight operating company’s locomotives, but do you know what the information on a TOPS list actually means?

What Is TOPS?

TOPS (Total operations processing system) is a computer system used in the railway industry to assist managing locomotives and rolling stock used on the UK rail network. TOPS is not available to the public, but some railway websites offer occasional TOPS lists.

Understanding a TOPS list

A loco list printout is simply a list of a freight operating company’s locomotives, along with their previous and next locations, status, and if any, their current working.

See below an example snippet TOPS report for GBRf

66780 GBOB DON UPDCY DON UPDCY C N 3D A
66781 GBOB IMDKHITGB 216M19C327 0 RATCLIFGB N 21D C
66782 GBOB RATCLIFGB 564E79CA27 0 DONCDNDCY N 16D A
66783 GBOB PBOROSDGB PBOROSDGB C N 28D A
66784 GBOB IMM CB1GB IMM CB1GB 6 N 19D A
66785 GBOB NBLYTH GB 126B80CU26 0 WSTBURTPS N 10D A
66786 GBOB DONCDNDCY DONCDNDCY 4 N 13D A
66787 GBOB BARDONHLQ BARDONHLQ 4 N 23D C
66788 GBOB IMMHRECGB 214R11CA27 0 IMDKHITGB N 14D A
66789 GBOB HEXTHPRRD ROBERTSRD X 0D C

Lets look at the first line

66780 – The locomotive number.
GBOB – The locomotive’s POOL code, GBOB being ex DB Cargo locomotive with Buckeye Couplers and Large Fuel Tanks
DON UPDCY – Previous location registered on TOPS (Doncaster Up Decoy)
DON UPDCY – Next location registered on TOPS (Doncaster Up Decoy ie stabled)
N – The locomotive’s status is NORMAL
3D A – Locomotive is due, in 3 days, an ‘A’ exam.

Now lets look at 66781

66781 – Locomotive number is 66781
GBOB – GBOB POOL, Ex DBC with Buckeye couplers and large fuel tanks
IMDKHITGB – Past location is Immingham Docks
216M19C327 0 – TRUST ID (explained below) – the train’s current working. The 0 refers to the type of train being worked ie the commodity code. See bottom of page.
RATCLIFGB – Next location registered on TOPS ie the destination of its current working
N – Status is NORMAL operating condition
21D C – locomotive is due , in 21 days, a ‘C’ exam.

TOPS TRUST ID

A locomotive that is working a train, is allocated a TRUST ID. TRUST stands for Train Running Under System TOPS. Lets look at what a TRUST ID means…I’ll use 66781’s TRUST ID as an example.

216M19C327

21 – The first two digits of the departure STANOX (see location list here) – as in the breakdown of 66781’s TOPS report, its at Immingham Dock. Now if you check the above link and search for Immingham, you’ll see the STANOXes start with 21.

6M19 – The headcode. Check the page (understanding a headcode)
C – The schedule type.
3 – The time frame at which the train leaves it’s origin*
27 – The day of the month, which the train departs.

*The 3rd to last character

0= 00:00- 00:59
1= 01:00- 01:59
2=02:00-02:59,
3= 03:00-03:59
4= 04:00 – 04:59
5= 0500- 05:59
6= 06:00- 06:59
A= 07:00- 07:29
B= 07:30- 07:59
C= 08:00 – 08:29
D= 08:30 – 08:59
E= 0900 – 0929

then every half an hour a different letter…ill miss every other letter as below otherwise itll go on forever and ive got other things to do…

G= 1000 – 1029
i = 1100 -1129
K = 1200 – 1229
M = 1300 – 1329
O = 1400 – 1429
Q = 1500 – 1529
S = 1600 – 1629
U = 1700 – 1729
W = 1800 – 1829
Then Y is a whole hour
Y = 1900 – 1959
Z – 2000 – 2059

Then just when you’d thought the numbers had finished…

7= 21:00- 21:59
8= 22:00- 22:59
9= 23:00- 23:59

So thats it for the TRUST ID, lets take a look at the operating statuses and exam codes.

Locomotive TOPS Status Codes

A – Locomotive is accepted for works, and is awaiting transfer to a TMD for repairs/works

B – Not to be moved without authorisation

D – At a TMD awaitin the commencement of maintenance work or repairs

E – ???

F – Locomotive has failed in traffic

M – The locomotive is undergoing maintenance work / repair but parts required

N – Locomotive is in NORMAL working condition

R – Locomotive is withdrawn and waiting to be scrapped, and can only be moved DiT

S – Locomotive is stored in a serviceable condition but should have an exam before being used.

T – Awaiting transfer or is en route to a TMD for repair/maintenance

U – Stored in an unserviceable condition.

V – ???

W – Undergoing a test

X – Undergoung maintenance or repair at a TMD or is on a test run

Exams run from A exams through to F exam, with G H and J exams for electric locomotive only. We aren’t entirely certain what the exams entail, but A exams are the least work, usually a visual inspection that can be carried out wherver, whilst an F exam is more comprehensive.

Commodity Codes

0 – Coal or Flasks
1 – Intermodal or Metals
2 – Automotive (Cars)
3 – Channel Tunnel Automotive (Cars)
4 – China Clay/Minerals/Aggregates
5 – Domestic & Industrial Waste/Chemicals/Hazardous Materials
6 – Construction Materials
7 – Petroleum
8 – Wagonload Traffic and Other Traffic
9 – Freightliner Intermodal Traffic
C – Civil Engineers/LDC Traffic
D – Departmental and RHTT
F – Light Engine
H – Empty HST/Express HST (Class 1)
L – Test Trains
M – Departmental – Multiple Unit/Post Office Parcels
O – Local Passenger Train
P – Parcels
U – Unadvertised Express (Charter Train)
V – Empty NPCCS
X – Express Passenger Train
Z – Sleeper train (Class 1)

Info missing or incorrect? Please comment below and we’ll update – thanks

Comments 1

  • What a well put together description well laid out with good explanation and worked example keep up the really good work you were doing on this site all the best Shaun

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *