Jump to content




Photo

Introducing... The Museum of Railway Timetables! (from main forum)


  • Please log in to reply
26 replies to this topic

#1 Anthony

Anthony

    Founder

  • Honored Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,310 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 12 March 2010 - 10:39 PM

Dear friends,

I am proud to announce the public release of perhaps the single most ambitious online railroad effort in history. For the first time ever, a comprehensive digital archive of Amtrak schedules dating back to May 1, 1971 is open and ready for viewing at www.timetables.org.

This project has been in the works for over five years, and was a fully volunteer effort from start to finish.

I came up with the idea back in 2004 when complaints arose over the old MileTrak system's inability to account for trips taken on discontinued routes. It became clear to me very quickly that I would need to begin collecting old timetables in order to add this historical information to the system. In order for MileTrak to make use of schedule data for the calculation of mileage traveled, all of the stations and arrival times would have to be converted to text form. Of course, the imperfect nature of timetables produced before the digital era was such that accurate optical character recognition (OCR) is almost impossible. For that and other reasons, including a lack of time to keep developing the site, I shelved MileTrak but I didn't stop collecting timetables.

After giving it some thought, I realized that the American passenger rail community composed of travelers, advocates, researchers, historians, politicians and employees would benefit much more from easy access to the timetable source materials, rather than just a niche application that made use of them. I decided that I would put together the resources to scan each and every page of the timetables, and host them for free on the Internet. It was a lofty and daunting goal!

My full-time career as a MIT student has left me with minimal free time to devote to the especially laborious task of flipping timetables page by page on a flatbed scanner. After a certain point, it became obvious that I would need some help if it was all to be finished in a reasonable time frame. What I really needed was a computer-savvy individual with the patience, skill, and attention to detail required to properly process and archive these delicate documents. I assure you that they cannot just be run through any ordinary document feeder!

About two years ago, I met my match right in my own backyard: Tom Bedwell, better known around here as MrFSS. Tom and I struck an arrangement whereby I would mail him packages of schedules, and he would then scan and upload them in digital form. Tom can give you a better idea of the time commitment on his part, but suffice it to say, it was substantial. Each national, northeast or system timetable took several hours to scan, correct, and organize. The end result is yours to behold.

We are just a few timetables away from a full digital set, and will finish scanning and processing them as we find the time. We are also aware that some adjustment is required with the interface and for certain images. But since we're so close, we figured it was ready to open up for everyone to enjoy. Tell all your friends, and share the link widely. All of the original ads, maps and photos are included in the timetables, which will make for hours of reading and entertainment. And finally, join us in our new Amtrak Timetable Discussion area to talk about the interesting things you find along the way.

#2 rrdude

rrdude

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,677 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:No AGR Status anymore... Baltimore, MD Area
  • Interests:I like riding trains, in First Class, Sleeper, or Coach. (If just a short jaunt) I expect courteous service, equipment that works, arriving close to "on time", & clean windows. Is that too much to ask for?

Posted 12 March 2010 - 10:43 PM

Kudos Tom and Anthony! This should be great, and end a lot of debates and "I swear I remember........"

When I first read your post about "in a few minutes you won't have to leave your chair......" I was thinkin' WTF?

Well, you and Tom came thru. Nice work, thanks for the effort to all involved.

#3 sunchaser

sunchaser

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,724 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Salt Lake City, Ut
  • Interests:Jesus, husband, children & grandchildren. Worship through music, my pets. Archaeology, Ocean, Mountains, camping, cooking & baking. Avid reader, like to learn new things, helping others. (if I can)

Posted 12 March 2010 - 10:48 PM

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! :cool: What an awesome idea!

event.png








Trains we have taken:

California Zephyr- (11 times)-8 Superliner Bedrooms/1 Roomette, 2 Family Bedrooms 

Capitol Limited-(once) Superlner Bedroom   

Cascades-   (6 times) Business Class   

Coast Starlight- (6 times) 6 Superliner Bedrooms

Crescent- (once)Viewliner Bedroom

Heber Creeper- (1)
'I'm packed, tickets in hand, I'm ready to go-Is it train time yet?'
Sunchaser


#4 railiner

railiner

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,734 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Queens, NY
  • Interests:All public transportation....land, sea, and air

Posted 12 March 2010 - 10:49 PM

Congratulations on your superlative achievement!
I venture to say that this will be a most welcome reference that will end a lot of speculation and arguements on these boards as to what ran where, when, and how.
I'm sure that it must have been a labor of love to perform this sometimes tedious task, but it surely will be appreciated by all.
Once again, congratulations!
metroblue?

okay on the blue!

#5 the_traveler

the_traveler

    Engineer

  • Global Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 23,513 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Whatever siding I'm sitting on!
  • Interests:Planning my next trip

Posted 12 March 2010 - 10:57 PM

Thanks Anthony & Tom! :)

I'm sure it will come in handy - but I remember when ... :lol: (I was told not to swear!)
Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

#6 rrdude

rrdude

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,677 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:No AGR Status anymore... Baltimore, MD Area
  • Interests:I like riding trains, in First Class, Sleeper, or Coach. (If just a short jaunt) I expect courteous service, equipment that works, arriving close to "on time", & clean windows. Is that too much to ask for?

Posted 12 March 2010 - 11:08 PM

Great, I've already got totally sucked into this dang thing, and I'm still in 1971!

Really, really, good stuff. Thanks again.

#7 Rafi

Rafi

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,225 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Baltimore, MD (primary); Culpeper, VA; Washington, DC

Posted 13 March 2010 - 12:35 AM

My first thought, upon browsing the site, was "well, there goes the weekend." Well, I'm now a good 2 hours into it and it's pretty much "there goes the month" now.

....just one more page before I hit the sack.... ARGH! okay.... just one more page.... ARGH! okay... just one more...

This is RailFan crack, Anthony.
Travel with me by rail around the world at Rafi on the Rails!

#8 rtabern

rtabern

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,530 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Suburban Chicago

Posted 13 March 2010 - 03:38 AM

What a great thing to have!! Thanks for doing this guys.... great work Anthony & Tom!

#9 Ryan

Ryan

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 15,169 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:OTN
  • Interests:a fact checker combined with a ferret

Posted 13 March 2010 - 06:14 AM

This is RailFan crack, Anthony.

Pretty much.

Thanks, Anthony! If you're looking for any more assistance with scanning, let me know - I'd be happy to help.
Posted Image

Disclaimer: Any images or links you see in my post may in fact be invasive advertising or even fraudulent phishing attacks silently injected into my post by our spam based hosting service. If anything looks suspicious or inappropriate or you have any doubt whatsoever then do not click any links (particularly those appearing in green and/or with a double underline) or interact with the spam in any way. You may also want to consider using ad-blocking plugins such as Adblock Plus and/or Ghostery)to help reduce the number and severity of advertising scams directed at you.

#10 MrFSS

MrFSS

    Engineer

  • Honored Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,777 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Central Kentucky

Posted 13 March 2010 - 06:16 AM

Tom can give you a better idea of the time commitment on his part, but suffice it to say, it was substantial. Each national, northeast or system timetable took several hours to scan, correct, and organize. The end result is yours to behold.


I guess Anthony's comment here calls for my input.

At last count, but who is really keeping track, I think I have scanned between 80 and 90 tables.

Some were easier than others as they had less of a page count. But the closer and closer we came to the 2000's that page count for each table began to increase.

On average, it would take me between 2-4 hours for each table. In addition to scanning each page I also used Adobe Photoshop to straighten each page (Photoshop has a wonderful tool for doing this) and also cropped each page to the exact proportions of the original sheet.

I could also remove small imperfections that would detract, but Antony decided at the beginning we would leave as much of that as we could so as to represent what they really looked like in the day. I didn't do any color corrections, either. Some covers had bleed through from the back side of the page and this could be dealt with as needed.

Now you may see why I was able to insert a page here or there over the last couple of years in a thread when a question was asked about old tables.

For the last two years I have almost memorized every table Amtrak has produced. But, as old as I am, I have to keep going back and looking at them over and over again. I especially find some of the covers to be almost worthy of being framed.

If anyone has a question about the process, let Anthony or me know.

We have a few more tables to get on the site and will add them as we can get our hands on them and get them scanned.

Tom

#11 Everydaymatters

Everydaymatters

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,081 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Just North of Normal, Illinois
  • Interests:Travel, antiques, reading, pinochle, grandkids

Posted 13 March 2010 - 06:41 AM

Congratulations!

Tom, now that this project is almost finished, what are you going to do with all your spare time? :huh:
Routes Traveled: Desert Wind, Southwest Chief, Missouri Mule, Empire Builder, Capitol Ltd., Lincoln Service, Lake Shore Ltd., Missouri River Runner, City of New Orleans, Cardinal, Silver Meteor, Texas Eagle, Cascades, Broadway Ltd., Acela, Downeaster, Sunset Ltd., Coast Starlight, California Zephyr, Hiawatha, Capitol Corridor, Maple Leaf   74,291 Amtrak miles.  Via Rail Vancouver to Toronto 2775 Miles.

#12 Steve4031

Steve4031

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,999 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Chicago
  • Interests:Riding Trains Often!!

Posted 13 March 2010 - 08:04 AM

Oh no!!!!! In gonna get fired from my job from looking at all of my old trips. Lol. Thanks!!

#13 MikefromCrete

MikefromCrete

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,057 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Crete, IL

Posted 13 March 2010 - 01:46 PM

Wow, this is great. I know I'm going to spending many long hours at this site. Thanks for the hard work and effort, Anthony and Tom.

#14 JayPea

JayPea

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,388 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Colfax, WA (CFX)---Hey, it's only an Amtrak Thruway bus stop, but at least my town in mentioned on Amtrak's website and in their timetable!
  • Interests:Trains, photography, photography of trains, travel, travel by train, reading, reading about trains............

Posted 13 March 2010 - 05:12 PM

Just what I needed: an excuse to spend hours more time on the Web, looking at old Amtrak timetables. Thanks a lot, guys!!!! :angry: :P :D :lol:

Just kidding. Looking at info like this is right up my alley! And I do thank you both sincerely!

Amtrak Routes Traveled: City of New Orleans, State House/Lincoln Service, Empire Builder, California Zephyr, Southwest Chief, Cascades, Crescent, Capitol Limited, Coast Starlight, Texas Eagle/Sunset Limited, Silver Meteor, Lake Shore Limited, Pacific Surfliner, Cardinal. 
Pre-Amtrak Routes Traveled: Empire Builder (Great Northern), North Coast Limited (Northern Pacific), Abraham Lincoln (Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio), City of Hinkle  (Union Pacific) Panama Limited (Illinois Central)
Bustitutions: Portland-Spokane (EB),Galesburg-Bloomington (CZ/Lincoln Service ) 
Amtrak Miles: 77509

Pre-Amtrak Miles: 8478
Bustitution Miles: 450
Excursion trains ridden:  Centralia and Chehalis Railroad, Mt. Hood Scenic Railroad, Alaska Railroad, 1880 Train (Black Hills Central RR) and trains at the Illinois Railway Museum, California Railway Museum, and the Monticello (IL) Railroad Museum.


#15 GG-1

GG-1

    Engineer

  • Honored Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,113 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Las Vegas, NV
  • Interests:PRR GG1 and riding the rails to "see the USA in your Chev".....Train

Posted 13 March 2010 - 07:58 PM

Aloha

I am so happy that this is almost done and announced, now there is no chance of me spilling the beans, something else maybe but not the beans.

GG-1, Aloha, Mahalo = Thanks
http://gg-1.smugmug.com/'>Picture Galleries

Posted Image


#16 WICT106

WICT106

    Conductor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 806 posts
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Location:Wisconsin

Posted 13 March 2010 - 09:48 PM

Good Work. As someone who has a postgraduate degree (MA) in History, this is an important resource alongside ridership and Revenue Passenger mile statistics.
:cool: Well Done! :D
"Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you'll regret the things you didn't do more than the ones you did." - Unknown

#17 Anthony

Anthony

    Founder

  • Honored Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,310 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 13 March 2010 - 09:59 PM

Thanks for all the overwhelming support, everyone. :) The site has been getting a ton of traffic in the last 24 hours, and everything seems to be running smoothly.

WICT106, you touch on a particularly important aspect of this project. I hope that the site can serve as a helpful resource for gainful pursuits that may lead to enhanced service -- for example, reports including long-range comparisons of service along a particular route, schedule padding over time, gain or loss of destinations served, etc. I'd love to see somebody whip up some spreadsheets with some interesting statistics, like trip times between given city pairs over the years... :)

#18 Anthony

Anthony

    Founder

  • Honored Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,310 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 15 March 2010 - 01:39 PM

The site has now been featured on Amtrak.com!

http://www.amtrak.co...d=1246044464072

#19 printman2000

printman2000

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,635 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Amarillo, Texas

Posted 18 March 2010 - 03:02 PM

Great job guys.

I was wondering if you intend to keep it at only Amtrak timetables or if you plan to add other roads in the future? Since you chose the name timetables.org and not amtraktimetables.org, I suspect you are open to the idea of adding others.

If so, how about a submission process so others can scan their timetables and get them added?

#20 Anthony

Anthony

    Founder

  • Honored Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,310 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 18 March 2010 - 06:39 PM

Adding "amtrak" to the domain name would require a license agreement from Amtrak, which is just a lot of unnecessary paperwork to deal with. I don't really have an intention of adding non-Amtrak timetables to the site -- the domain "timetables.org" is short and memorable, which is why I took it several years ago. :)




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users