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Rail Data > About > Overview
The short version
The long version

LTSV-RD is about UK railway rolling stock
This website is about British railway rolling stock, covering all types but focusing on wagons. Most of the content is about trains that are (or have been) registered to work on the mainline rail network, though there will be some information on other systems (such as the London Underground). This website will replace my earlier 'LTSV Wagons' website (launched in October 2008), and parts of the content have been transferred across.

It mainly covers the 'diesel and electric' era, i.e. post-1968
The database that runs this website has been designed to be able to handle most types of rolling stock and numbering systems as far back as the grouping of 1923 (which produced the 'big four' of GWR, LMS, LNER and SR). However, different categories of rolling stock have different cut-off dates. For stock built by (or for) British Railways or its successors, all diesel and electric locos, coaches, multiple units and wagons are included, as are many of the older items that remained in use into the 1980s. For private-owner wagons it was not possible to include items withdrawn before the introduction of TOPS in 1974. For departmental stock, all items since 1974 (when the CEPS numbering was introduced) will be included, as will older items where the information is available.

It is mainly about the numbering and classification of rolling stock
Most of the information on this website is about the numbering and classification of rolling stock. There will also be data about allocations (where available) and sightings, while more general information can be included in the notes.

It includes a database of rolling stock numbers but is not comprehensive
The database includes a list of known numbers, but not every number has been included. For example, BR built several hundred thousand 16ton Mineral wagons. For the vast majority of these there would be no additional information available (such as withdrawal dates and disposal details) so there seemed little point filling the database up with the numbers, since this could slow down the loading of pages. Individual numbers can be added as and when needed, and the situation will be reviewed later on. The database also includes lists of batches (groups of numbers with similar characteristics) and these are - hopefully - complete.

It will be up to date, but not yet!
The data that runs this website was developed over a period of several years. However, during the period when the website itself was being created (2018-2021), the database was not kept up to date. This will be achieved over the next few months, with the end result being a website that will be able to show the details of all current rolling stock.

It was originally envisaged as a way of collating information from other sources
When I was writing profiles for the earlier incarnation of this website, I often had to refer to several different books and/or websites to find out specific details. Also, while doing so I would often come across a snippet of information (usually in the most unexpected places) which I thought would be useful for a future profile. I realised it would be useful to have a way to collate information about a particular item of rolling stock (or class, diagram etc) so that it could be referred back to more easily. That is why many parts of the database have a section for recording the source of the information. Over time the plan became rather more complex, with lots of additional sections and features, this explaining why it has taken several years to get to launch.

Many sections comprise pairs of pages. You can view a list of all records, or look at the details of an individual record
Although they differ in detail, many sections of this website are formed of pairs of pages. One page shows a list of all items, while the other shows details of an individual item. This means that a relatively small number of page designs can be used to show a huge array of records.

There are links all over the place to take you to related information
Links have been used in many places to allow users to view related information. For example, you might start on the news page. The small photos there are links to view the photo at full size. When looking at a photo, you can click on a link to see the details of the number shown. When looking at the number, you can click a link to see the details of its TOPS code, and so on.

'Listings' have been used to capture the histories of individual items of rolling stock
I wanted to be able to capture changeable data such as allocations and classifications, to show how individual items of rolling stock were used and changed through their lives. While the allocations of locos (in particular) are updated in news magazines, items such as wagons are rarely covered in detail. The approach was to include what I have called listings, these being information about a given number at a specified date. The sources for these include the transfer reports in news magazines, and the 'snapshots' that are provided by 'ABC'-type books and by TOPS reports. If enough listings are gathered, an overview of an item's history can be shown. In due course, users will be able to add their own listings, though a bulk-load service will also be offered (q.v.).

Sightings have been included
I decided to include a facility for recording sightings, as these can help to show where particular types of train are used. There are websites and forums that list freight train sightings but these are usually just lists of numbers with no contextual links. Unless you are looking for a particular number, it can be hard to find information. I have added some of the trains I have seen over the past few years but this section will become more useful if other people make use of it (q.v.).

Users can register for an account and then add their own information
Since this site was partly designed to allow me to add information on particular subjects, I figured it would be useful to also allow other users to do the same. Anyone can register for an account and then start adding information.

User accounts have a permission level which is determined using a 'trust' model
To prevent potential misuse of the facility to add information, each user account has a permission level assigned to it. When you join, the first few items you post will be moderated (i.e. they will not be generally visible until they have been approved). When a certain number of your posts have been approved, your permission will be upgraded and your subsequent posts will then be unmoderated.

'Notes' are the primary means of adding information
The main means by which I (and other users) can add information is what I have called 'notes'. These can relate to any individual record within the database (e.g. a number, a batch, a diagram, a photo etc). Normal users will not be able to change the underlying data, but they can post a note and flag it for attention so that an editor can then make the required changes.

Users can also add sightings
Users will be able to add their sightings, making that section more useful. This facility is still being worked on and is hoped to be available in spring 2021.

Some users may be promoted to editors
I have created an additional permission level of 'Editor', and accounts at this level will be able to edit the underlying data. It has not yet been decided whether progression from Contributor to Editor will be automatic (based on the quantity of approvals gained) or at the site admin's discretion.

Contributions of photos would be welcomed
I have already published over 5,000 photos, the majority of which are of wagons seen around London over the past ten years. To increase the geographical and historical coverage of rolling stock types, I would be very pleased to receive photos from contributors. There is no facility to upload these yourself. If you have photos you would be willing to share, please contact me.

Contributions of bulk data would also be appreciated
As mentioned, users will have the ability to add notes and (soon) sightings and listings. However, the process of adding these to the website is rather slow if you have a large quantity of data to add. If you have lots of data and it is in an electronic format (e.g. a spreadsheet), please get in touch. I can then do a 'bulk-load' using back-end access.

The site is not complete, and probably never will be
At the time of launch some of the pages and functionality were incomplete or missing. The same applied to the data. I intend to use the rest of 2021 to complete the design work, adding the remaining features and also fixing any glitches that arise. I will also make a start on adding and updating the data, though this is a long-term project. Plus of course there will always be changes (such as deliveries and withdrawals of trains) which I will try to keep up to date with. I will also review how well the website is working and respond to feedback by making further design changes.