About The ABC Railway Guide

A little bit of background

The original ABC Alphabetical Railway Guide was first published in 1853, and was probably the most significant competitor to the more well known Bradshaw's. Unlike Bradshaw's, which disappeared from Britain's railway stations at around the same time as steam trains, the ABC Railway Guide persisted into the 21st century after being renamed firstly to the ABC Rail Guide and finally as the OAG Rail Guide.

OAG finally ceased publication of the OAG Rail Guide in 2007, but the title was picked up by Ian Allen Publications for a new series of books by Colin Marsden starting with the abc Rail Guide 2010. Unlike the previous versions, the abc Rail Guides (with a lower case 'abc') do not contain timetable and travel information; instead, they are aimed at the rail enthusiast and, as the publisher blurb puts it, are "designed to guide railway enthusiasts through the pitfalls of spotting, and to provide tips on how to make the most of this popular hobby". If you want to buy a copy of the abc Rail Guide, you can get it from Amazon.

The original ABC Railway Guide never had a website; it had become the OAG Rail Guide long before the Internet became commonplace and OAG never set up a website for their own branded version. The name "ABC Railway Guide" was never trademarked, and the trademark for "ABC Rail Guide" was allowed to lapse when OAG rebranded the guide under their own name. That means that both names are available for a new web-based publication; the reason for choosing 'ABC Railway Guide' rather than 'ABC Rail Guide' was partly to avoid conflict with Colin Marsden's books and partly as a deliberate link to the historical title.

Initially, the new ABC Railway Guide was intended to primarily be a timetable site (in line with the emphasis of the original ABC Guide). However, the complexity of the timetable data, together with the need to ensure that it is updated in real time, turned out to be unsuitable for the framework on whih the site is built. It has, therefore, been removed. In the long term, it's possible that timetable data may return to the site, but this is no longer the primary focus.

Instead, the decision has been made to refocus (or "pivot" in the technical jargon!) the site to be primarily a database of railway infrastructure. This suits the underlying platform, which is based on that originally written to British Listed Buildings and Motorway Services. To begin with, the station data itself has been retained and updated, and level crossing data added.

This is now version 3.0 of the ABC Railway Guide website. The main changes from the previous version are a move to the shorter URL (abcrailwayguide.uk instead of abcrailwayguide.co.uk) and the use of a responsive design (so that it works better on smartphones and tablets).

Future Plans

With the new emphasis on infrastructure, future plans revolve mainly around adding things like line information and buildings such as signal boxes and bridges.

Future Non-Plans

The release of the timetable data has already seen a number of websites spring up which use the information. The ABC Railway Guide isn't intended to be just another clone of these, so, at least for the moment, there are a few things that are unlikely to be added to the site. Chief of those are working timetables and freight movements.

If you want working timeables and freight movements, then the excellent Open Train Times is probably the best source at the moment.

Why not call it "Bradshaw"?

Because there are several organisations called "Bradshaw" already, none of which have anything to do with railways and several of which have websites.


You can contact the administrator of this website by email at 'stationmaster{at}abcrailwayguide.uk' (making the obvious substitution to turn that into a valid email address).

Geeky Stuff

For those that care abut such things, this site is built on an open source platform using Linux, Apache, PHP and MariaDB. The underlying design is based on a lightweight object-oriented codebase utilising Savant3 as a templating framework and runs entirely on recycled electrons. No animals were harmed in the making of this website, but large numbers of coffee beans gave their lives for the cause.

abcrailwayguide.uk is a Good Stuff website.