Archive for April, 2011

Metro Timetables

April 30th, 2011

For a long time I have been trying to get a copy of the Tyne and Wear Metro timetables in a format that I can work with in software. Although Nexus (the owner and the former operator of the Metro) is mandated to distribute the timetable they can choose the way the information is distributed, and they chose a PDF for each station.

Last year I decided to create the Metro simulator that shows the state of the Metro system at any given time. This was so I could find out how many trains there were on the network at a time and visualise where they were. To do this I manually entered the weekday timetable. A task that took 18 hours over several days just to get the weekday timetable in.

I did not give up thought and although the recent timetable changes were not great with only a few peak time trains being dropped I decided to make a big push for the new timetables rather than altering my current on.

The way I eventually successful in getting the information was via a Freedom of Information request to Nexus via the My Society web service What Do They Know where you can follow the communications relating to the request. I must confess I was expecting the standard we have the PDFs again, or perhaps now the commercial interest card to be (inappropriately) played, but instead the gentleman responsible was most professional and got the information I was requestion instead of trying to get out of giving it. For that I am truly respectful and grateful.

I have been also given some legal advice regarding any IP issues and in short we can do just about anything with it and distribute it. The one thing we can not do is exactly reproduce and distribute it, but that is not an issue here. If you want to play with the data yourself then it can now be downloaded from Weekday and Weekend.

Update: The time tables have changed again slightly but I intend to create an updated database to reflect that.