Goodbye TubeTracker

The closing chapter to my biggest and proudest achievement.


It is with great sadness that I finally go through with something I've been meaning to do for over a year now, and that is to finally put to bed my longest lasting project, and the one I am most proudest of, TubeTracker.

It all started from a random idea in autumn 2021, and never really steered far from the original vision as can be seen from the first ever mock-up drawing below, but the technology and techniques behind the project have massively changed over the 2 and a half years that I have spent pouring my heart and soul into the project.

Unfortunately with me getting a job working for a TfL service operator and me not wanting TubeTracker to be seen as a conflict of interest, the project became private and invite-only a mere few weeks after the launch of the public beta version, so very few people ended up getting an opportunity to use and benefit from the service. That is the one and only thing that I wish turned out differently, because I wish with all my heart that I got to share it with a wider audience, but alas.

Original TubeTracker mock-up drawing

Why now?

I have been meaning to bring an end to TubeTracker for a while now, as I have had a couple other very large projects like Lost in the City and BestExits that I had to put on hold primarily due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and after having dedicated multiple years to TubeTracker, it felt like time to move on and work on something new for a change.

I was very fortunate to be invited to do a talk at Electromagnetic Field 2024 about TubeTracker and TfL open data in general (which I cannot stress hard enough is not related to my day job, and was all entirely based on my own views). This felt like the opportunity that I had been looking for for so long to finally show the world this secret big project that I had been hiding for all these years, making for a great conclusion to the story - the closing chapter.

I was actually going to wait until the recording of my EMF talk was published publicly, but this decision has been hastened by the fact that I no longer have access to the CUF timetable files that London Underground produces for all engineering works and special events. It makes no sense to keep TubeTracker up with out of date and incorrect schedules, so it is time to close it down.

The talk will be published Soon™, and as soon as that happens I will be sure to share it on all of my social media profiles and here on this page.

Is this goodbye forever?

Under current circumstances, I'm afraid so. I no longer have access to all the CUF timetables, without which TubeTracker is nothing; and despite me being able to find alternate sources, it is again time I turn my attention to other projects that I've been putting off for years.

With that being said, if by some miracle my EMF talk is heard by enough of the right people, and TfL starts publishing these again in a sensible way, I may bring TubeTracker back from the grave... as long as most of the general day-to-day upkeep can be automated out of its current mundane chore nature.

I will keep hold of the TubeTracker domain, all the code has been backed up, and the millions of existing rows of realtime and timetable data will be archived, so there is still a glimmer of hope of TubeTracker returning.

I thank everyone who has helped and supported me along the way, and hope that you understand and support my decision to work on other exciting projects for years to come. An especially massive thank you to eta for intertube, an incredibly useful tool that not only do I use on a daily basis when travelling around on the Underground, but was what made TubeTracker's real-time information system possible.

Much love, Arturs Dobrecovs.

June 30th, 2024.

Small illustration of the Dean Street end of platform A at Tottenham Court Road.

© Arturs Dobrecovs 2024, all rights reserved.