PEAKS at Manchester Piccadilly Sept 1976- Mar 1977

A forum for the discussion of railway related topics
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Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2015 8:51 pm

Re: PEAKS at Manchester Piccadilly Sept 1976- Mar 1977

Post by MisterC » Fri Dec 02, 2016 5:21 pm

Trust me I'm a statistician!

While use of pdf is superficially attractive it is not the way to go. Rule 1 of data management is to store once and use many times. It is essential to have a background database, that stores each record once, with a web front end for interrogation. This allows users to look for locomotives, trains or dates, and always gives the latest database update. Pdf is just paper publication on a screen that has to be changed every time the data change. Timewarp made the same mistake (they were pioneers, and pioneers inevitably make mistakes), but with html pages instead of pdf. With small amounts of data it worked but as it grew the data management workload became overwhelming.

Fortunately we already have examples of what's required on the existing RCTS website, both the liveries library and photo archive work in this way. Providing that these can be successfully migrated to the new website then a "gen" database with interrogation via the RCTS website is technically feasible.

Peter Hall
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Databases of Locomotive & Train Movements

Post by Peter Hall » Sat Dec 03, 2016 12:52 pm

I do hope members of the MC and others involved with the Web4 project are reading these postings. It might also be worth the moderators splitting out the various postings into different threads.

The technological aspects referred to by MisterC are a bit beyond me. Show me what to do and I will get on with it is where I stand. Clearly though he is talking himself into being involved in some way with data transfer into the website and I for one would very much appreciate that. An issue has always been transfer of a lot of the sighting based data, such as Class 060s, between the websites. Clearly this has to be done in away described by MisterC. Of course some of these were samplers to see what response we would get and experience suggests that not all will be transferred anyway, at least as we have them. Unfortunately the Kent and East Sussex Shunters is attracting vast numbers of contributions daily which is completely wrecking everything else. These of course are all spam contributions.

The pdf concept for the Summer Saturday information is based on the desire to make what we have available as soon as possible. Obviously it is very desirable to have as MisterC says but it is the logistic nightmare of inputting that is the stumbling block. Unfortunately the typed pages are the equivalent of ancient parchment manuscripts being created with the technology of the time not knowing what was to come in the future. In the early 1980s what is now possible with data at home was pure science fiction, so much so that even Holywood would have thought it too far fetched. Thus, two stages, firstly making the information widely available so if my house burns down it is not lost, secondly moving it into the digital era.

Rule 1 of data management, to store once and use many times, is basically the concept used when creating my coaching stock records in the 1990's. For those various databases where created that are tapped into to create the pdfs used for Preserved Coaching Stock and Internal Users. Both draw from the same lot details and code interpretation databases to give the details as they appear. The disposals listings could be adapted similarly, but it was easier to create again for use on the website. Some of my 'Through Dore' prints work on the same principles as they date from post typewriter technology.

It is as Ian says probably the data entry part that is the biggest hurdle. I personally prefer editing what is there to inputting. Of course much inputting has been done for other often stalled projects and transfer of some of this might be possible. Much of my data is on FoxPro databases but these can be seemingly quite easily exported so no need to input all that data again.

Ian Prince
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Re: PEAKS at Manchester Piccadilly Sept 1976- Mar 1977

Post by Ian Prince » Sat Dec 03, 2016 1:33 pm

Ahh......summer Saturdays seaside and other specials....I can help out at one specific location particularly well in that respect, as well as the other data I have been trying to supply from the 1970s. I will add that to the long list of things to do! Watch this space!

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Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2015 8:51 pm

Re: PEAKS at Manchester Piccadilly Sept 1976- Mar 1977

Post by MisterC » Sun Dec 04, 2016 7:07 pm

In the case of mostly complete datasets I'm relaxed about data entry.

I started my career when all data capture was quill pen and parchment. We had procedures for keying in data quickly and accurately: they worked then and they'll work now.

I don't have the Ed Lund books but I recall seeing copies many years ago. If my memory is correct the data is laid out in grids on each page. I think we are talking about 3 years and about 20 dates each year. Even if there's 100 trains that wouldn't take long if the data is nicely laid out in rows and columns.

At present I can't do it because too much of my time is taken up with a current data capture project; I have virtually complete records of GN class 317 movements going back to 2009. But that finishes when the class 317s leave the GN early in 2017. In winter 2017-18 I plan to spend a lot more time keying in historic data from manual records. I'd be happy to do the Ed Lund dataset then, as I'm also interested in seeing it as part of my Brush Type 2 research project, and can "kill two birds with one stone".

The bit I can't do, and for Anglia Ranger was done by the student, is to write a macro to convert the spreadsheet data into a text file for upload into the database.

Peter Hall
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Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2014 11:51 am

Summer Saturday Data Input

Post by Peter Hall » Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:29 am

How ever much data needs inputting it can be achieved. Just a matter of time. Errors then hopefully can be picked up through usage and some proof reading. Just think what a task it has been for big organisations to put records onto to databases but it has eventually been done.

The amount of data is though far in excess of what was contained in the 'SO' books. The typed and similar sheets come to around 250 at 10 or 12 point on A4. Obviously not all completely use the page but many do and there is a labyrinth of footnotes and codes to be interpreted and somehow allowed for. In addition to that is data never transferred from ledgers and even some not transferred into ledgers. The general layout of the typed sheets though is as in the 'SO' books. An a trial scanning was tried some years ago (not to pdf or similar) but the results were not good. Typewriter layout such as half lines caused problems. Technology has probably advanced though.

Earlier Ian mentioned "the value to the railway community of the tatty old notebooks etc." They do have a value but as mentioned earlier these are generally a lists of numbers but with little detail. Thus, unless they are like those of the late Peter Tonks or Ed Lund where a wealth of detail is included their value to the Summer Saturday project is limited. A list of locomotives at a location on a Summer Saturday might have some value as a particular locomotive might stand out as being on a particular train and from that it might be able to work out what others might have been on, not what they were actually on. Fine at say Boston but less so at York! That being said, for other projects they have great value. The WRHTS project has scoured notebooks consisting of just date, location, number looking for sightings after withdrawal. The result has been increasing knowledge of movements of the locomotives concerned. Similarly with the suspicious and not proved diesel locomotive disposals such scouring has been very beneficial. But of course, if they go in the skip they have no use whatsoever.

Bevan Price
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Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2014 3:59 pm

Re: PEAKS at Manchester Piccadilly Sept 1976- Mar 1977

Post by Bevan Price » Wed Dec 28, 2016 11:28 pm

Of possible interest to those interested in historic loco-hauled workings, I have been informed that an updated version of the "timewarp" site has now gone on line, now known as "The RailGen Archive". It includes many thousands of entries for loco hauled workings in the 1970s & 1980s

New filter options allow you to search for specific loco classes and dates, so, for example, you can search for Class 45 workings. One example related to the current topic is that 45073 worked between Gloucester & Manchester Piccadilly on 4 October 1976 on the 15:15 service from Plymouth.

Caution - if a loco is reported on a service to Manchester via Birmingham, you cannot assume that there was not a loco change at Birmingham, unless the loco is listed as having worked through to Manchester.

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Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2014 6:49 pm

Re: PEAKS at Manchester Piccadilly Sept 1976- Mar 1977

Post by GRV777 » Mon Jan 02, 2017 2:58 pm

Worth taking a look at : which is regularly updated with new information.

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