Navigating Britain’s rail networks

Navigating Britain’s rail networks
Basemap's GIS Technology and Bing map

Train travel information the traditional way

If you wanted to plan a train journey or enquire about fares, timings and alternative routes you would most likely visit the National Rail Enquiries (NRE) website, phone the call centre or use one of the apps to find the rail journey information you were looking for.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) that runs NRE had a slight dilemma. They needed a way to show passengers alternative routes to their destinations by ticket type.

Yes, they could have simply listed out the routes in a snazzy interface, but this was an opportunity for NRE to introduce more visualisation into NRE’s web presence.

The challenge for NRE was to come up with a way to develop a responsive digital map that could quickly draw geographically represented routes.

Train travel information the visual way

The answer lay in Basemap’s GIS technology along with a corporate BING licence, which would allow the journeys to follow the geographical route and be visual enough not to get lost on the BING map.

Basemap's GIS Technology and Bing map

Most journey planning websites that draw rail routes, do so by representing these routes with straight lines from their origin station to the destination. One major advantage of our technology however, is that we can draw the rail routes accurately. We do this by processing the rail data through our algorithms, which produce impressive looking lines that are then drawn on the map. In order to integrate our technology with NRE a number of services had to fit together. The Integrated Public Transport Information System journey data, provided by THALES and Silverail had to be queried and matched to the routing engine developed by us and then drawn on the map using the BING Software Development Kit. Internet users are demanding, so all this had to be processed in under 3 seconds and displayed on the user’s browser.


In order to draw and process the data, Basemap developers used their skills in SQL Server, web services, JQuery and C# to develop a robust query and processing engine. We then used BING’s SDK to display the data on the client’s browser, all whilst compressing the data and Javascript using various well documented techniques.
Visualise for yourself!

Why not take a look at the map in action or watch the video.

Improving journey planning

ATOC and Basemap working together

The Association of Train Operating Companies has consulted with Basemap on many studies and ways to improve Britain’s rail network and especially Journey Planning. They are very happy with this mapping engine that we’ve developed for NRE and there are plans afoot to roll out more mapping within the site and other channels.

If you would like to transform your spatial data into something that your clients can visualise and is easy for them to use, please contact Richard Steele on 01483 688 470 or send a message via the contact form.