Train Timing: A Beginner's Guide

Our introduction to Train Timing in the UK


Train timing has earned itself an air of mystique over the years and is viewed by many as an aspect of the railway hobby that is confined to boffins and statisticians. This reputation is both unfortunate and misleading.

Most participants enjoy a strong sense of sporting challenge. Even in these days of greater standardisation, there is a thrill to be gained from studying the form and assessing whether the conditions are right for a fast run; the weather conditions, temporary speed restrictions (TSRs) in force, likely signal checks, the requirements of the schedule and, not least, the motivation of the driver. Will the train be late enough to allow time to be regained or is it so late that it will lose its path? Paradoxically, of course, some of the best performances are obtained when the indications are unfavourable.

So, what benefit does the train timer receive that is denied to someone who just watches the scenery go by? Only a soul-less individual would choose to strain and time east coast main line Milepost 66 instead of enjoying the vista of Durham Cathedral from the famous viaduct, but deciding to compile an accurate log provides a stimulating mental challenge. It is necessary to be organised, quick witted and observant. The result is a permanent record of your journey which will survive the vagaries of personal memory.

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