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Rail Data > About > FAQs
About - FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Or perhaps this should be IAQ (Imaginary Asked Questions) since nobody has asked me anything yet! Hover or click on any question to see the answer, or click here for a plain-text version. If there is a question you think should be added to the list, please get in touch using the Contact Us page or by e-mailing tom 'at' ltsv.com.
About the website in general
What is this website about?

LTSV Rail Data contains information on the numbering and classification of trains running on British Rail. It primarily deals with locos, coaches and wagons operated from the mid-1970s to the present but has been designed to cater for older stock as well.

What does LTSV stand for?

LTSV actually stands for London Transport Service Vehicles, the subject of my first website. Although this has nothing to do with the content of the railway websites, I didn't want to splash out on an additional domain name. As such, LTSV has become my on-line 'brand'.

Is there a mobile version or an app?

No. This website is designed for use on a desktop PC, although it should also work on mobile devices. I decided not to develop a fully mobile-friendly version of the site for the simple reason that many of the pages have large data tables which could not easily be displayed on very small screens.

Can I download data/content from this website?

Not yet, although this is something that will be introduced within a year or so. I have amassed a huge amount of data during the building of this site, and hopefully users will contribute even more. I don't want this to all be lost if something happens to me, so I am looking at ways of making the content downloadable. The most likely option will be to make spreadsheet or text versions of the data tables available.

How does this website work? What software was used?

This website uses a MySQL database for the data and PHP for the pages. Apart from installing these, the only software used was Notepad++ (for coding the pages) and Paint Shop Pro X2 (for preparing the photos and graphics). The pages were tested in Firefox v70 and Internet Explorer v11.

Why create this website?

That is what my wife keeps asking me! The reason for creating the original LTSV Wagons website (back in 2008) was that I felt there were no websites giving information about modern UK wagons. LTSV-RD extends the scope to other rolling stock, some of which is already covered on other websites. Even so, most of the content (such as the full lists of batches, lots and re-numberings) has not been easily accessible before. The other purpose of the new site is to allow the collation of snippets of information from other sources, to then be used in the production of new content (such as articles and profiles).

Why launch this website in an un-finished state, and when will it be finished?

There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the site will never really be finished. Data (both new and old) will be continually added, and the features and design will probably evolve in response to user feedback. But I won't get any feedback until I get some users! The site was in development for all of 2019 and it was felt that the new year of 2020 would be a good time to go public, even though some of the design was un-finished. In the event the launch got pushed back to the autumn! The second reason was that, due to a technical fudge-up, my existing LTSV Wagons website could no longer be easily updated after autumn 2017. I didn't want to leave the pages in place (getting increasingly out of date) any longer than necessary.

Why are there so many spelling mistakes?

Well, I hope there aren't any/many. However, I have not included any spellchecking function in the site, so the correctitude of the content canoot be garranteed! If you spot a significant error, please let me know about it.

Why is there no 'links' page?

The original plan was to incorporate links in the reviews section. However, on reflection, it might be useful to provide links to other websites without having to review them. This will be added shortly.

What does roadworks icon beside a link or text mean?

This indicates that a section is still under construction. It may be accessible (in an un-finished state), or it may be added in a future update.

Haven't you gone a bit over-board with all the round-edged boxes and drop shadows?

Well, perhaps a little! This is the first website I have built using CSS3 and some of the features seemed too good not to use. If you have any comments or suggestions about the design of the site, I would be interested to hear from you.

There have been no updates for a while and/or my notes have not been approved. What's going on?

If there have been no updates or approvals for a short time (up to a week or two), then it is probably just that I have been busy with other things, away on holiday, or just unable to get online. Please be patient. However, if there have been no updates for a long time (a month or more), then it could be that something has happened to me. This is always a risk with websites that are run (and paid for) by a single individual. In this case, it might be wise to grab any content that you would like to keep, since there is a risk that the site will be closed down if I am not around to pay the bills!

About the data content
How accurate / up-to-date is the information on this website?

As mentioned, a lot of the data on this website is taken from other sources, and as such I cannot guarantee its accuracy, although I do try to find confirmation of any information that seems dubious. In terms of topicality, I will endeavour to keep the core data as up to date as possible. During the development of this site (c.2018-2019) the data has not been strictly maintained, and it may take a few months to cover changes from the past couple of years. As always, if you find something that is wrong or out-of-date, please let me know about it. If you are only looking for up-to-date information about current locos, coaches and/or units, there are other websites which can do this better.

What stock is listed? What stock is not listed?

The database that runs this website has been designed to be able to handle the majority of mainland UK rolling stock from the past 70 years. However, there is some stock that has not yet been added, and some that cannot realistically be added.

1. Stock that is (or will be) listed in full:
- All diesel and electric locos with BR numbers (un-prefixed, D/E-prefixed and TOPS)
- All coaches and mutiple units built since 1948
- Most wagons built by or for BR
- All known private-owner wagons with TOPS numbers
- All track machines etc given numbers in the CEPS series
- All other known departmental and internal user conversions

2. Stock that is partially listed:
- Pre-Nationalisation (1948) coaches, units and wagons (generally only listed where they survived into the 1990s or were re-numbered)
- Some of the more numerous BR wagons (eg 16ton Minerals) are only individually listed where they survived into the 1990s or were renumbered

3. Stock that is not yet listed but which may be added later on:
- Steam locos inherited or built by BR
- BR-owned containers
- Stock of metro and tram systems (eg LT/LUL, Blackpool, Tyne&Wear etc)

4. Stock that is not listed:
- Pre-TOPS private-owner wagons
- Small plant items (except those given CEPS numbers)
- Stock of industrial, private and narrow-gauge railways

I have seen a preserved loco/coach/wagon but your site lists its status as renumbered.

Numbers (and renumberings) listed on this site are those current while the vehicle was registered on the national network. Vehicles in preservation often revert to earlier numbers, but such changes will not generally be shown here (other than as notes). For example, loco 37248 is currently running in preservation with its original number D6948. Current information about a given vehicle will always be linked to its current (or last 'national') number.

I've found a mistake. What should I do?

Firstly, please don't just ignore it. Let me know about it and I will do my best to make sure it is fixed. Initially the best way to contact me is by e-mail (to tom 'at' ltsv.com) or by using the Contact Us page. Later on there will be means for users to add notes or messages without using e-mail.

Is all the content regurgitated from other sources?

Not quite! One of the initial aims of this website was to act as a means of collating snippets of information from other websites, books and magazines. As such, a lot of the content is from such sources, referenced wherever possible. However, there is 'original' content in the form of profiles and articles I have written, reviews, photos and also information derived from my own analysis of external data (such as TOPS reports).

About the data formatting and presentation
Why are some dates shown in a weird format?

Dates in some sections of this website may appear in the format d19860518c. This example translates as 'around 18th May 1986'. Other suffix letters which are used are p (for 4-week period ending) and b (for by or before). If there is no suffix, the date is exact. The reason for their use is because database date fields only accept valid dates. A lot of the information I wanted to record included vague dates, such as 'in March 1987'. To allow these to be entered, while still retaining the correct sorting functions, a text field was used with the date entered as dYYYYMMDDs, where Y, M and D are the year, month and day respectively and s is the suffix as already mentioned. Code to automatically convert these dates into more familiar formats has been applied to most sections, but there may be some that I have missed.

Why are prefixes (and suffixes) to numbers not always shown?

Although many items of rolling stock carried the same prefix throughout their working lives, this is not a given. Prefixes were liable to change or omission. Also, in recent years the 'rules' about prefixes have often been broken. Because of this, it was decided to just record the numerical part of the number in the main data tables. The prefixes/suffixes applied to a given number at a given time will be shown in the listings table where known.

Why are reversions (when a vehicle is given a number it had carried before) treated as separate numbers?

The main reason for this is that it is needed to track the renumberings. For example, loco 90026 was renumbered 90126 in 1991 then reverted to 90026 in 1998. The latter is shown as 90026 (R) and appears as a separate database entry. If this was not done, the query that looks for renumberings would get stuck in a loop. It would find that 90026 was renumbered 90126, and that 90126 was renumbered 90026. But 90026 was renumbered 90126, which was renumbered 90026, which was renumbered 90126 and so on!

What do figures in brackets ((2), (R), (+) or (n)) after a number indicate?

These figures are used to show additional information about the particular application of the number. 2 (or any other number) shows a number that has been re-used. For example 2001 (4) indicates the fourth different SR unit to carry the number 2001. R indicates a reversion, for example 90026 (R) was a loco originally numbered 90026, re-numbered 90126, then re-numbered back to 90026. Repeated reversions are rare but shown as (R2), (R3) etc. A re-used and reverted number would show a combination, such as 2001 (5R2). This would be the fifth item numbered 2001 and which had reverted to that number twice.

(+) indicates a number that is additional. This applies where an item of stock is allocated two numbers at the same time, such as with the MXA wagons and various track machines. The (+) indicates that the main data entry for that item will be under the other number. (n) is used when a number is allocated but not physically applied, most commonly on internal user vehicles. This is distinct from NTU (not taken up), where a number was proposed but not implemented. These are not generally shown but, where they are, will be indicated with a (p) for planned or proposed.

The re-use indicators also apply to codes such as TOPS classes and types, diagrams and designs. For example, the current class 143 DMUs are shown as 143 (2) since the class number was earlier used for Gloucester DMUs.

Why are the pool descriptions grouped, instead of saying which actual description applies?

Pool codes were a problem, due to the lack of comprehensive information. The meaning for each pool code could (and often did) change over time, but information on such changes - particularly to wagon pools - was not generally available. As such, it was impossible to pin down a given description to a given pool at a given date. The upshot of this is that the listings page might show (for example) that coach 12345 was in pool ABCD at date 01/01/2000, but it could not show the meaning of that pool code at that date. You can click on the pool code to see the details (including all the known descriptions), but that is as far as it can be taken at present.

Why do all the notes appear on yellow squares, and what do the signal graphics represent?

This was a sort of joke on my part. I wanted people to be able to 'stick' notes on almost any record in the database, and it occurred to me that these would be kind of like 'post-it' notes. So I styled the notes to actually (hopefully) resemble these. As for the signals, I wanted a graphical way of showing the approval status of each note and whether it had any flags attached (flags can be used by people posting notes to 'flag' up to me that the content of their note requires some of the data to be reviewed or changed). I decided to use a railway-themed graphic, whereby a red signal will indicate a note that has been rejected (most users will never see these), a single-yellow indicates a note that is awaiting approval, a double-yellow indicates a note that has been semi-approved and a green signal one that has been approved. Similarly, a junction 'feather' will appear on notes that have a flag marked on them. Once the flag has been dealt with (for example, the data has been changed), the feather will change to un-lit. Simple?

About the photos and graphics
Why do some photos appear twice?

A small number of photos appear twice because they show two different vehicles and/or numbers. It was decided to use a single data table for the photos, meaning that each could only be linked to one number. A photo of two locos side-by-side may therefore be added twice, so that it can be referenced to both numbers. Similarly, photos of multiple units may appear under both the 'side' (carriage) and 'end' (set) numbers. With units, photos which only show a single coach are normally referenced to the side number while only photos showing complete sets are referenced to the end number.

Can I re-use photos from this website?

Photos on this website can be freely downloaded for personal use. Users can also freely re-use a limited quantity (no more than 10) of my photos (ie those marked as taken by Thomas Young), with or without the text block at the bottom of each, on other websites or elsewhere. If you want to use more than 10 images, require higher-resolution copies, wish to use photographs credited to other photographers or want to use the photographs for commercial purposes, please contact me by e-mail at tom 'at' ltsv.com.

Can I view the photos any larger than 1200px wide?

Most of the photographs on this website are available at a size of 1200px by 800px. Starting from July 2020, larger copies (2400px by 1600px) of some photos are being added, where the source material allows. The default view will still be of the 1200px version but users can select to view (and download) the larger photo. Photos that have a larger copy will be indicated by a HD icon in the top-left corner when in gallery views. Larger copies of many of the earlier photos are also held and, although I do not plan to retrospectively add these, I would be happy to send originals to anyone who e-mails me a request.

Where do the side-view icons come from?

The side view icons were all created by me, but not quite from scratch. The colour images where taken from screenshots in the Trainz railway simulator game. I used to build models for this game and many of the icons are of those, or of models built by others and made available for downloading. The monochrome images are created from digital copies of BR wagon diagram books, with dimension lines etc manually edited out.

Can I re-use the side-view icons?

The icon files can be freely downloaded (right-click and select 'Save Picture As..') for personal use, including limited (no more than twenty images) non-commercial use (for example on a website). For anything beyond that, please contact me by e-mail first.

About contributing content
Can I upload my own photos?

I would be very happy to add photographs by other people, but I have not created a means for this to be done on-line. If you have a photo you would like to have published, please e-mail it to me (tom 'at' ltsv.com), along with details of the subject, location, date etc. I cannot guarantee that every photo received will be used.

I have added a note but it does not appear.

This is most likely because the permissions on your account do not allow un-moderated posting. When you first join, your postings have to be approved by an existing member before they are generally visible. Once you have accrued a set number of these 'approvals', your permissions will be upgraded to un-moderated. Alternatively, your post may have been rejected. If so, you should be able to see the details on your account home page.

I have a lot of data I would like to add. Is there a way to 'bulk load' it?

There is no facility for users to bulk load data. However, if you contact me by e-mail we can look at ways your data can be incorporated.

Why are some of the processes (such as adding sightings) so convoluted?

Any page that requires the inputting of numbers has to have additional stages added, to ensure that the entry is linked to the correct number. For example, if you inputted a sighting of 56099 the database would not know whether you meant the loco built in 1981, the DMU car built in 1957 or the tank wagon built in 1965, or even perhaps a different vehicle (such as a pre-nationalisation coach) that is not yet in the database. Prefixes could have been used to some extent, but their application is not consistent. The chosen approach was to have a first stage where the numbers are inputted. The second stage shows potential matches for each, allowing the user to confirm which is correct. The final stage allows notes to be added against any individual number.

Troubleshooting
Some of the pages seem to take a long time to load.

Well, yes, some do. This is simply due to the huge amounts of data that some pages need to process. For example, if you are looking for a list of numbers in a given series, the page will only display the first 100 results. However, to work out which are the first 100, the query that provides data to the page needs to check all the records, which can run to hundreds of thousands.

I get a message: Fatal error: Allowed memory size of xxx bytes exhausted... when trying to load a page.

This error can sometimes appear when loading pages that perform large database queries (such as number or 'listings' lists). Usually the page will work if you re-load it (for example, by clicking on the 'Apply Filters' button). Alternatively, try filtering the results so that fewer are shown. If the problems persist, please e-mail me (tom 'at' ltsv.com) and I will see if the code can be improved.