computer program to provide schedules

disisme Sep 24, 2003

  1. disisme

    disisme TrainBoard Supporter

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    OK, I'm a puter geek by proffesion, and I;ve been looking at quite a few different threads in here that seem to stress the importance of staging..... I Agree that after running your train around your mainline for 2 laps, if your not staging, your gonna get bored......

    That made me think "how are they deciding what trains go where, and when?".... I cant think randomly building trains would be terribly exciting after a while, nor would it be that realistic.

    This calls for a program..... At this stage I am just fleshing out ideas on what this program should do, but I am considering along the lines of the following :

    Provide a timetable and make up for each train related to its destination. This means each trains load out would be based upon quite a few variables. Industry resource requirements, in tons, rolling stock capacity, in tons, relative locale of each industry, return trip time from staging to each industry, staging time etc.

    This means, the program would build a schedule that would see trains made up to reflect the industry needs, with closely linked industris (linked by location) resulting in mixed make-up load outs on trains compiled in staging. Throw in some 'age prioritisation' so that industries that havent had any input for a while become more important the long they have to wait, and you will end up with, basically, different trains EVERY time. So, you can have your two or 3 (or 5) mainline trains trekking stuff to the industries on autopilot while your shunters work hell for leather making up the next consignment.

    Now, I dont think thsi program would be terribly hard to write, and certainly would never be a commercial release. Who would be interested in using something like that? It would be endlessly variable according to your own layout (ie industries, travelt ime, locations and rolling stock inventories could all be added / modified by the user). Would someone be interested in beta testing it for me (ie, run the program, then try to run against the schedule generated)???

    Yeah, I dont have a layout right now, but I want to do something with trains :D
     
  2. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Sounds like Ship It by Albion software. I use Ship It, but I don't know how to evaluate it based on your requirements. See the info here:

    http://www.albionsoftware.com/
     
  3. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Sounds good to me count me in :D , I looked at ship it and it certainly looks the goods although a little pricey for my liking.

    [ 23. September 2003, 22:48: Message edited by: Colonel ]
     
  4. disisme

    disisme TrainBoard Supporter

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    hey, I'm talking FREE...... no pretty graphics.... just something you need to input your 'stuff' into (rolling stock, locos, industry locations, track 'zone' timing etc) ONCE, the run it.

    I've roughed out what I think I'll need, and while it will be tedious to enter the stuff for rolling stock, industries etc first time, its a one off. Program should run in about 3-4 seconds and provide a weeks schedule for every train on your layout if your aggressive with the config.

    Hey, fi you were REALLY aggressive, you could use the results of the program to go to the wife and say 'oh no, look! I need 3 new locos to adhere to my timetable!' <snicker>
     
  5. disisme

    disisme TrainBoard Supporter

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    hell....your talking about over $200 for ship it! While it does nice little windows, and the REALLY expensive version lets you change schedules in real time, mine obviously isnt gonna do that....They cant change schedules in real time on real railroads, so you'll just have to do what they do.... work harder and catch up!

    Colonel, I'll speak to you about this on ICQ tonight. You've got a substantial layout already, with loads of track, so we should be able to either break the program or break ur ass testing it :>)
     
  6. UP_Challenger3985

    UP_Challenger3985 TrainBoard Member

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    disisme,
    I would LOVE to be a beta tester. I am also a developer, but on the webend so I could help you with the logistics of the program. If you need any help, email me at matt@internetmill.com

    GL
    Matt
     
  7. disisme

    disisme TrainBoard Supporter

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    No worries Matt. How big is your layout? Colonel's is massive so we will certainly be able to stress test both the program and the user on his. It would be nice to use it on something not quite so big as well.

    Maybe I can write the blitz code and you can do the nice glitzy panels up front? The screens a program presents have never really given me a buzz (mainframe boy), but the guts of the code is where I get my thrill.... Thats why I tend to get excited over a program that seems to do nothing in a millisecond, and noone else does :>) I KNOW whats its doing, even if you cant see it.

    I'll have a talk to Colonel tonight and flesh out some details, then I'll send you an email outlining my rudimentary flow chart and variables structure (gonna be a LOT of em)
     
  8. ncng

    ncng TrainBoard Member

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    :eek: Oh no, not again. I just finished beta testing a program for over two years called Interchange . It does everything you are talking about and a LOT more. It is available for $100 USD.

    Unless you don't value your time very much or you would prefer to program more than you want to run trains, I would recommend you look at the program first.

    Here is a link to download the program plus a demo:

    http://www.mcswiz.com/MCSMRCDS/MainPage.asp

    There is also a Yahoo Group for this program:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MRCDS/

    David

    [ 24. September 2003, 04:40: Message edited by: ncng ]
     
  9. disisme

    disisme TrainBoard Supporter

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    Dave... LOL...yep...you dont stay in this industry this long without liking code generation! I dont believe a program like this, which is 100% utility and geared towards enhancing a hobby should cost as much as a loco..... $100 is far too much for what these programs can do for you. The object, from what I can see, is to add variety and enhance the activity. How much value do people place on a program like that, particularly when the hobby is enjoyable without the software? $15? Certainly not $100.

    This is a hobby thing, and I have some really good ideas, but I;d be happy to hear any ideas you operators have for what a program like this should do!

    inventory management?
    Resource allocations?
    Way bill generation?
    Rolling stock capacity projectioons? (ie, you dont have enouogh ore cars!)

    What sort of thing would you like to see?
     
  10. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I'd like to see the software generate locomotive allocation based on what locomoitves are currently being utilised then allocating the least utilised loco. That way you are guarentted to use your whole roster, Maybe need to take into account the grade or the layout to allow for multiple units
     
  11. disisme

    disisme TrainBoard Supporter

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    Yes, for sure. Helper units and that sort of thing as well. How about 'industry hub staging' as well? You know in a big industrial siding you can actually have quite a bit of staging going on, but how do you best utilise that shunter so its not parked there inactive at times. Also, what about 'through expresses'? The last thing you want is a train parked on the mainline dropping rolling stock for an industry when the high speed express comes racing through.

    Heres a question for the operators out there. Should rolling stock be taken to an industry in advance of the resources being available and left there, or should they be loaded by the train thats going to carry them away. This would have a pretty big impact on the way scheduling would work... I believe the rolling stock probably should be on a siding at the industry prior to them being needed, because that seems to be what happens in reality, even on some spurs, though 'bring it, load it, carry it away' also happens.

    In the 'real' world, how would this happen, and what could you use to determine what industies would do this and which wouldnt? Output capacity of the hub?
     
  12. disisme

    disisme TrainBoard Supporter

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    Another pretty tricky point is, how many mainlines are run bi-directional? While its not really a problem for any particular single line track, it does get tricky when you throw in switches that may see traffic travelling in any direction. X crossings arent a problem, a a switch to a single line OFF a single line (eg a triple 'Y' junction) makes things a little more complex :>(
     
  13. UP_Challenger3985

    UP_Challenger3985 TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Guys,
    I have been talking with Roger(disisme) and we will be working on this project together. As I'm sure Roger will agree with me, we will be happy for any suggestions and will be looking for beta testers. If you have any questions, please feel free to email either one of us.

    Matt
     
  14. disisme

    disisme TrainBoard Supporter

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    and guys, ANYTHING goes on your observations, suggestions, recommendations etc. "The only silly question is the unasked one". I defer to your superior experience in all things model railroad, so steer us along the right path. As time goes along I am starting to realise just how huge a project we've taken on here. Not impossible, but AWFULLY big. For example, if you have a simple circle track of double line, with a single Y spur line, there are going to be around 120 variables JUST for the track.... add industries, loco's, rolling stock, time acceleration algorythms etc and it starts to get largish. Then add another 2000 feet of track on dozens of lines and several thousand pieces of rolling stock and you've got a behemoth :>)

    Good thing I love a challenge....
     
  15. Pete

    Pete TrainBoard Member

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    I run "Shipit!" and it is awesome! Worth every penny.
     
  16. Lehigh Valley

    Lehigh Valley New Member

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    Here is what I use. Protrak. A windows based program. No, its not free, but it is an amazing program. The web site does a good job of explaining the features. It also will do signaling and has a feature to add a working weigh scale.

    http://www.protrak.cc/

    [ 20. October 2003, 22:59: Message edited by: Lehigh Valley ]
     
  17. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    any progress on this?
     
  18. Tiny

    Tiny E-Mail Bounces

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    Will this program work with steamers ??
    I run all Steam on my 1880-1900 railroad, But I'm sure most of the asignments would work for me too.
     
  19. disisme

    disisme TrainBoard Supporter

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    Ahh, it wont care about what era your modelling....a train is a train, and a track is a track..... Doesnt matter if its a 200mph hyper train or a 10mph Shay.
     
  20. Tiny

    Tiny E-Mail Bounces

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    Please let me know when this is available, I'd like to try it out on my Outdoor RR, will soon have more then 1000 Feet of track I have 3 small yards, and several sidings to switch out, not to forget the passenger trains disrupting the local
     

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