What's happening with TransXChange?

Some context in Is there an endpoint for a complete bus timetable? - #12 by MMJZ

Things I think I’ve gathered:

  • TfL posts a big dump of its bus schedules in TransXChange-compliant format for open data consumers
  • TransXChange is the national standard for this data, and is used by everyone
  • TfL has no other easily-parseable offering for pulling a complete timetable for a bus in one go

I had a few questions about TransXChange and was hoping someone from TfL/DfT/anywhere else could shed some light:

  • Is TfL using TransXChange as the primary format for its timetables?
    • I have a hunch the answer is no given some peculiarities in the data suggesting there’s some in-house tools that spits these out as a transformation on some other data, but maybe I just don’t understand the format well enough
    • If not, and the alternative format is easier to parse, could it be made publicly consumable?
  • Is TransXChange a dead/dying format?
    • I ask because documentation about it is hard to find and over a decade old, and the only bit of tooling available is a showing-its-age Java application
    • In short, it all seems to have a bit of a smell - it seems amazing that a widely used format could go a full decade without needing an update
    • Possibly related:
  • Is NeTEx support in the plans?
    • The lack of change in TransXChange land coincides with the release of NeTEx, but I haven’t found anything suggesting a proposed shift, even though the transformation is allegedly straightforward
    • Even if not in any current plans, is there some eventual faraway goal of adopting NeTEx? If not, why not?

Just to add that TfL has for many years supplied a similar but not identical set of xml files to Traveline, or whatever it is called these days. A London zip file of these is produced (by Traveline?) alongside similar files for each region in the UK, region being defined by the organisation of the Traffic Commissioners, or whatever they are called these days. I registered years ago for access to the password-protected site; not sure if you can still do that or how.

I seem to recall something a year or so back on this site to the effect that TfL would be switching to a new version of TransXChange. That suggests that there is life in the old dog yet. No idea whether this happened or whether it makes any practical difference.

I started looking at TransXChange last year and was also puzzled by the absence of any recent online information or, other than this TfL forum, discussion of what is a UK-wide standard. My guess was that DfT (DoT?) kicked it off with reasonable funding and a group of enthusiasts, both of which have long since dwindled. If anyone from DfT reads this thread it would be great to learn the official viewpoint. :slightly_smiling_face:

Is https://naptan.dft.gov.uk/transxchange/schema/2.5a/doc/TransXChangeSchemaGuide-2.5-v-55.pdf still not the spec?

It’s owned by the Department for Transport - TransXChange: overview - GOV.UK - who aren’t especially into discissions.

But yes, XML is dying it various forms but it’s still used for the Darwin Pushport (STOMP) and various things set up by Microsoft (SOAP /WSDL ).

Remember, however, that the Browser-Server comms we use with JSON is stilled called AJAX and the “X” at the end if for XML…

@drjharrison, may be something for you to come in on.

Thanks @petejackson745 - I finally found the replies part of the forum … and got time to be here for more than 5 mins… trying to explain the slowness of replies

I think a discussion on TransXchange would be great in the future. Not right now for all sorts of reasons.

Tldr; yes we should offer more than XML, longer version about why we’re here in XML land

I agree that relying XML is not the best future proofing here - and I would like to see NaPTAN and the other data sets in this ecosystem move to more modern standards.

To set your expectations - I am building NaPTAN with a vision that it will be stable, performative, and secure in 2050 - being that key data set of “what” is “where” keeping all of public transport across Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) running.

In many of the public meetings I show how the data flows across the ecosystem, and helps Beryl in Bristol travel to see her friend Beverly who moved to Birmingham. She catches the right public transport and the right time, in the right place, for the right fare. NaPTAN is key to making all of this work.

The current systems were all developed in the late 90’s or earlier (I have some data hangups I need to sort from 1967!!!)

Does this help some?