Animated from 1997-2015

The growth in our railways

Working with the Campaign for Better Transport, I have created a great new animated map that shows the increase in rail passenger numbers over 18 years from 1997.

I am delighted that the BBC published it on the BBC News website. At least two radio interviews followed. Scotland’s national newspaper, The Scotsman also picked it up. After asking for images with a different background that would make the coastline (of which there is a lot in Scotland) clearer, they made it their lead story online. The campaign’s story was retweeted many times and published on other industry websites and blogs.

As at April 2016, the map had received over 96,000 views!

So how did I do it?

I analysed the underlying data provided by the campaign from the Office of Rail and Road to understand changes in passenger numbers from year to year for over 2,500 stations in the UK.  The campaign team provided the GPS coordinates, so we had everything we needed.

All that produced over 45,000 data points which I plotted on an interactive map using the fantastic CartoDB mapping platform.  Now the amazing thing about the map is that you instantly get a feel for what has happened to rail usage over nearly two decades in a way that simply wouldn’t be possible without the map.

And then beyond that instaneous understanding, viewers can zoom into their local area to see how their stations are doing.  The map clearly shows lines of stations snaking out from major cities and across the country. Press the full screen symbol below the + and – zoom markers to see a larger view.

For those of you are interested, the map utilises the animation of the CartoDB Torque Map.  Although Torque doesn’t normally provide these, I found ways to show station information both through information windows and differently styled markers.

For more information and the full analysis, please see the Campaign for Better Transport website.

Fire up your data!

If you’re interested in what you see here, please do drop me a line.