Frequently Asked Questions
We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions. We've grouped them into their appropriate categories below:
- Realtime Trains
- Detailed Mode
How can I send you feedback?
Email us at email@example.com. We do read all of your emails but we can’t guarantee to reply to all of them.
How is this site funded?
The site is funded by the proceeds from advertising and commercial use of the API.
Are there mobile apps?
We did have mobile apps for iOS and Android, which were withdrawn in 2017 due to incompatibilities with the latest operating systems. We are working on updates to them and, at the time of writing, are expecting to release them in early 2020.
In the meantime, just visit realtimetrains.co.uk in your phone or tablet’s web browser. The site is designed to scale responsively so that it looks nice and makes the best use of space on all devices.
Why did Realtime Trains show incorrect information?
We make a ‘best effort’ attempt to show information as accurately as possible. Sometimes, the data we receive isn’t completely accurate. We try and correct information if we think it is incorrect but this isn’t always possible.
How do I find the next trains from my station?
Enter the name of the station in the Quick Search box at the top of the page, or on the homepage.
Do you have a "favourites" function?
No, we don’t. You can, however, just bookmark pages that don’t have a specific date and time filter on them - these will update on every refresh.
How do I find trains in the future or the past?
From the front page, after entering your station, enter a date and/or time in the box. Make sure that it’s within the past week, or within the next ninety days.
How far in advance can I look up a service?
You can look up information about services running up to 90 days in the future.
How far in the past can I look up a service?
You can look up information for services that ran up to 7 days ago.
Where can I buy train tickets?
We do not issue train tickets. You can buy train tickets online from any train operating company website or independent third party retailers. Alternatively, you can simply turn up at any station and buy a ticket from the ticket office or the automatic ticket machines. For the best fares, always buy a valid ticket before you get on the train.
How can I get a refund if the train is late or cancelled?
You should contact the train company which operated the service on which you were delayed. All train operating companies operate compensation schemes which will be detailed in their passenger charter.
Do you run the trains?
No. We are an independent site that provides information about train departures. We don’t have anything to do with the operation of trains, or the upkeep of the railway infrastructure. Trains are operated by Train Operating Companies, who provide a service under contract to the Government. The railway infrastructure is maintained by Network Rail, a company owned by the Government. Most fares (and the rate at which fares can be increased) are set by the Government’s Department for Transport.
Why is my train replaced by a bus or diverted on the weekends?
Sometimes Network Rail need to close the track to maintain and improve it. Britain’s railway network is the oldest and one of the biggest in the world, and it’s showing its age! Regular maintenance is needed to make sure that trains can run safely, and to improve the service (for instance, to replace old diesel trains with electric ones, or to replace worn-out track, points or signalling cable.) Doing this on the weekend is inconvenient, but it is the most efficient way of doing it: simply doing the work overnight would mean that improvement work would take much longer, and also run the risk of overrunning and disrupting people going to work in the morning peak.
Why do platform numbers turn bold?
This means that the train is confirmed to be using that platform. Sometimes, trains have to use a different platform from the one they are booked to use: the original platform might be out of use due to a points failure, or because there is a late-running train already occupying it. A bolded platform number means the train will almost certainly be leaving from the relevant platform.
Why do the colours of platform numbers change?
If the platform is in red text, that means that the train is using a different platform to the one it is booked to use.
Why wasn’t the platform number correct for a service I used?
Realtime Trains makes a best effort attempt to give the correct platform numbers for stations across the network. In some areas, we do not get any signalling movement data and so we will be unable to provide information in these areas for the forseeable future.
What does 'Approaching station' mean?
This means that the train is, in general, no more than two minutes from arriving at the station.
What does 'Arriving' mean?
This means that the train is rolling into the station platform.
What does 'At platform' mean?
This means that the train is standing at the station platform.
Why did Realtime Trains show a platform before the screens at the station did?
Realtime Trains uses signalling data to determine the position of trains. At some stations, the screens are programmed not to show a train’s platform until the inbound train is “ready for departure” (usually after the train has been cleaned.)
What does WTT, STP, VAR and CAN mean?
These indicate how they fit into the timetable. A service marked with 'WTT' means that it features in the working timetable. These can be downloaded from Network Rail. A service marked 'VAR' means it is a 'WTT' service modified slightly. A service marked 'STP' is a service that does not exist, at all, in the working timetable. A service marked 'CAN' means that it is a cancelled WTT service.
Why are some train operators obfuscated?
Network Rail's open data platform obfuscates services operated by most freight train and some passenger train operators. The obfuscation has been requested by these operators. This obfuscation appears in the form of the reporting ID showing as a series of three numbers followed by a single letter, and is generated sequentially by the open data platform. Where we do not yet have an reporting ID for the train, we will show FRGT.
What does (Q) mean?
This service runs only when required and has not been activated in a railway computer system to indicate its operation. Due to occasional technical issues with our connection to the open data feeds, this doesn't necessarily mean that the train is not running but is a strong indicator.
Why was the freight train activated and then it never ran?
Some services are 'called' (activated) automatically by railway computer systems despite being unlikely to run. The best indicator of a service running is an actual reporting time being displayed - these will be in bold type in the 'realtime' section.
Why can I not find the numbers of the train that ran on a service?
This data is not given to us through the Network Rail open data service.