Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Real-Time European Rail Maps

Real-time transit maps still get me excited. Being able to watch the real-time live position of trains on a map really appeals somehow to my inner geek.

While running Maps Mania I've seen the scale of real-time transit maps grow from city-wide transit systems to maps which cover whole countries. In Europe in particular there now exist a number of maps which visualize the rail networks of entire states. I'm fairly sure that within the next few years someone will take the plunge and combine all the data to create one huge real-time map of the whole European rail network.

Until then we will have to make do with these European country-wide transit maps.

In France SNCF has released a map of French trains in real-time. Réseau SNCF en Temps Réel shows the live position of all SNCF's trains throughout France. Zoom-in on the map and you can watch SNCF trains moving on the map. You can even select individual trains on the map to view the train number and the train's scheduled stops.

Travic has probably come closest to creating a European rail network map. Travic uses data feeds from around the world to provide a real-time transit map of a number of global cities. The Travic map also includes country-wide live train maps for the UK, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Vasile Coțovanu's Swiss Railways Network was probably the very first nationwide transit map. Vasile has been a pioneer of real-time transit maps for a number of years and has even released a Transit Map library to help other developers create their own transit maps.

Vasile has also released the code for a GTFS (General Transit Feed Specification) plug-in as well. GTFS-viz converts a set of GTFS files into a SQLite database and the GeoJSONs needed by the Transit Map library.

In the UK Mathew Somerville has also been pioneering the development of live real-time transit maps. Mathew's UK Train Times map allows you to view a real-time map of the whole UK rail network. Mathew has also released a Live Tube Map of the London Underground and a Live London Bus Map, showing the location of London's buses in real-time.

If you are American then there is no need to feel left out. Amtrak's rail network may not be as extensive as some of its European counterparts but it does have its own real-time transit map, the Amtrak Track a Train map.

If you want see more real-time transit maps (including bus and tram networks) then you should have a browse through the transit and real-time tags on Maps Mania.

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