We create the timetables for passenger and freight services – and it’s a complex process
Every day, we work closely with passenger and freight operators to make sure the timetables allow trains to run safely on our network at their published times. This is the Working Timetable (WTT) and is the rail industry’s version of the public national timetable.
It shows all movements on the rail network including freight trains, empty trains and those coming in and out of depots. It also includes our unique identification codes for each train, and intermediate times for journeys, including which stations a train is not scheduled to stop at.
Important: these documents have been made available for rail industry professionals and should not be confused with the passenger timetable. For train times and journey planning, go to National Rail Enquiries.
Electronic National Rail Timetable
The electronic National Rail Timetable (eNRT) is a long-term timetable for planners which covers services on the national rail network. All timetables are split into Routes.
Planning the timetable
Timetables need to balance demand for trains serving small communities and non-stop fast trains as well as the requirements of businesses that rely on freight.
We take lots of factors into account when we plan a timetable, and many of these are to keep passengers safe:
- Speed limits vary on a length of track – for example, at bends and over points.
- Only one train can occupy a given section of track at any time.
- Because signalling infrastructure varies across the network, what is considered to be the safe distance between trains at one part of the route can differ at another part.
- There’s a minimum time gap required between trains using the same platform at a station.
- Stopping, non-stopping and freight trains all travel at different speeds, so a mix of these on the track affects the number of trains that can use that section of track.
- Trains can’t be scheduled to run too closely together because we need flexibility if there is an incident to get trains back on time. We work hard to avoid knock-on delays.
- Different schedules are run on bank holidays, so we work closely with the train operators to plan revised timetables.
- Time for improvement work and routine maintenance needs to be planned in to increase capacity and keep the network running reliably.