TOPS

Total Operations Processing System , or TOPS , is a computer system for managing the locomotives and rolling stock ( railroad cars ) owned by and / or operated on a rail system. It was originally developed by the American-based Southern Pacific Railroad and was widely sold; It is best known in Britain for its use by British Rail (BR) and its successors.

Early development

The Southern Pacific Railroad was a first step in its embracing of technology. In the early 1960s, it developed a computer system called ‘Total Operations Processing System’, or ‘TOPS’. The purpose was to take all the paperwork associated with a locomotive or rolling stock – its maintenance history, its allocation to the division and depot, its status, its rent, and much more – and keep it in computer form, constantly updated by terminals At every maintenance facility. [1] On paper, this information was difficult to keep track of, difficult to keep up to date, and difficult to query; Requiring many telephone calls. Computerizing this information enabled a railroad to keep better track of its assets, and to utilize them better. [1]

In order to offset the development costs of the system, Southern Pacific sold to other railroads. A number of American railroads took to the system, as did many others around the world.

Adoption by British Rail

In the mid to late 1960s, British Rail (BR) was searching for ways to increase efficiency, and cam across the TOPS system in a 1968 by IBM US Transportation Industry Representative, which shortly after, formed IBM World Trade Corp. Transportation Industry Center in Brussels (E. Wrathall). They acquired the system (along with source code, as was typical for such a wide mainframe-based system in those days) and implemented it, assisted by Southern Pacific data processing experts. At the time, the British Government operates a ‘Buy British’ policy for the nationalized industries,

The adoption of the TOPS system made for some changes in the railway system in Britain worked. Hitherto, locomotives were numbered in three different series. Steam locomotives carried unadorned numbers up to five digits long. Diesel locomotives carried one to four-digit numbers prefixed with a letter ‘D’, and electric locomotives with a letter ‘E’. Thus, up to three locomotives could carry the same number. TOPS could not handle this, and it also required similar locomotives to be numbered in a consecutive series in terms of classification, in order that they might be treated together as a group.

TOPS numbering under British Rail

For more details on this topic, see British Rail locomotive and multiple unit numbering and classification. 1973 numbering and classification – TOPS , and British carriage and wagon numbering and classification .
Brush Type 2 locomotives became Class 31 under TOPS. This is the data panel from a Class 31/4; The 31/4 subclass being used for locomotives with Electric Train Heating .

TOPS number was divided into two parts. TOPS number was divided into two parts. The class of locomotive or multiple unit numbered over 1000 examples, so the last three digits were used for the individual number between 001 and 999 (although Class 43 goes down to 000, it being the HST Prototype power cars) in that class. The first two or three digits were used to denote the class of locomotive or multiple unit. 47401 “to highlight that division, but the TOPS system having stored and displayed them without the space:” 47401 “. Subclassifications were indicated in the TOPS system with a slash and a subclass number, eg “47/4”. It was convention, though not enforced within the TOPS system, that subclass numbers were boundaries in the locomotive numbering system, such that “47/4” started with number “47 401”. If there were more than 99 numbers in a subclass, the number would be extended to the next value of the third digit; Therefore, since there were more than 200 locomotives in class “47/4”, subclasses “47/5” and “47/6” did not exist, and the next valid subclass by convention was “47/7” starting with “47 701 “. HOWEVER, In Some cases, the sequences do not match, eg 158/ 0 numbers start at 158 7 01. But not enforced within the TOPS system, that subclass numbers were boundaries in the locomotive numbering system, such that “47/4” started with number “47 401”. If there were more than 99 numbers in a subclass, the number would be extended to the next value of the third digit; Therefore, since there were more than 200 locomotives in class “47/4”, subclasses “47/5” and “47/6” did not exist, and the next valid subclass by convention was “47/7” starting with “47 701 “. HOWEVER, In Some cases, the sequences do not match, eg 158/ 0 numbers start at 158 7 01. But not enforced within the TOPS system, that subclass numbers were boundaries in the locomotive numbering system, such that “47/4” started with number “47 401”. If there were more than 99 numbers in a subclass, the number would be extended to the next value of the third digit; Therefore, since there were more than 200 locomotives in class “47/4”, subclasses “47/5” and “47/6” did not exist, and the next valid subclass by convention was “47/7” starting with “47 701 “. HOWEVER, In Some cases, the sequences do not match, eg 158/ 0 numbers start at 158 7 01. Started with number “47 401”. If there were more than 99 numbers in a subclass, the number would be extended to the next value of the third digit; Therefore, since there were more than 200 locomotives in class “47/4”, subclasses “47/5” and “47/6” did not exist, and the next valid subclass by convention was “47/7” starting with “47 701 “. HOWEVER, In Some cases, the sequences do not match, eg 158/ 0 numbers start at 158 7 01. Started with number “47 401”. If there were more than 99 numbers in a subclass, the number would be extended to the next value of the third digit; Therefore, since there were more than 200 locomotives in class “47/4”, subclasses “47/5” and “47/6” did not exist, and the next valid subclass by convention was “47/7” starting with “47 701 “. HOWEVER, In Some cases, the sequences do not match, eg 158/ 0 numbers start at 158 7 01. And the next valid subclass by convention was “47/7” starting with “47 701”. HOWEVER, In Some cases, the sequences do not match, eg 158/ 0 numbers start at 158 7 01. And the next valid subclass by convention was “47/7” starting with “47 701”. HOWEVER, In Some cases, the sequences do not match, eg 158/ 0 numbers start at 158 7 01.

Locomotives are assigned classes 01-98: diesel locomotives 01-70 (originally 01-69), DC electric locomotives 71-79 (originally 70-79), AC electric locomotives 80-96, departmental locos ) 97, and steam locomotives 98. One oddity was the inclusion of British Rail’s shipping in the system as Class 99. Diesel multiple units (DMUs) with mechanical or hydraulic transmission are classified 100-199, with electric transmission 200-299. Electric multiple units(EMUs) are given the subsequent classes; 300-399 are overhead AC units, while Southern Region DC third rail EMUs are 400-499, other DC EMUs 500-599 (including AC / DC dual-voltage units, and new DC only units with pantogaph wells for AC conversion) .

Most classes in the 600-999 range are not currently in use, but selected numbers in the 900 series have been used for departmental multiple units, mostly converted from forming passenger units. There are also a number of electric and bi-mode (diesel-electric) units which currently use the 700 and 800 series, which include:

  • Class 700 – for the Thameslink Program , planned to enter service as early as 2016
  • Class 800 and Class 801 – for the Intercity Express Program , planned for service in 2017

Coaching stock and individual multiple units are allocated five-digit numbers; Since the early 1980s, it was forbidden for them to have the same numbers as locomotives, but before then duplication was possible because they carried a prefix letter, which was considered part of the number. More recent EMU deliveries have six-figure coach numbers.

Recent history

TOPS has grown very out of date in recent decades. It is a text-terminal , mainframe-driven system; Which is very user-friendly, and hard to use. In addition, it is written in its own programming language, TOPSTRAN (not strictly speaking a separate language but a set of IBM Assembler macros), and it is increasingly hard to find and train developers to maintain it. The division of British Rail and Privatization has also hurt TOPS, because it was never really designed for that; Some freight operating companies do not keep information as up to date as they should.

Attempts have been made to ‘skin’ the system with a more user-friendly interface, called TOPS 2000; in addition, there are other parallel systems now, such as TRUST, Genius and the Mobile Consisting Application,[2] but none has yet fully supplanted the TOPS system.

Sample output

This is a typical report that a TOPS clerk could generate. The train in question is a 25 wagon freight train travelling from Over & Wharton, near Winsford, to Reading West Junction.[3]

K383400 0010 2837 22/10/86 U483 ON N199 BY KO
TRAIN ENQUIRY RESPONSE FOR 377Z380 22 TFA - 9KJ
ACTUAL TRAIN ID 377Z380 22 BOOKED 7Z380
DEP OVER&WHAR 1520 22 2 HRS 20 MINS LATE FOR REASON L CAT B SECTOR 5
LOCO 25901
LOCO 25908
 25 LDS 0 MTYS 886 TONNES 799 T/FT 418 POTENTIAL VAC BRAKE FORCE
STATION CONSIST ARR DEP LDS MTYS SCHEDULE
37015 OVER&WHAR 1520 025 000 71212
65700 BESCOTYD NRP 1707 EST 1709 EST 025 000
74260 READINGWJ DETAIL 2007 EST 025 000
END

References

  1. ^ Jump up to:a b Simmons, Jack; Biddle, Gordon (1997). The Oxford Companion to British Railway History From 1603 to the 1990s (1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-211697-5., Pp515-516.
  2. Jump up^ “Mobile Consisting Application”. 3Squared. 3Squared. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  3. Jump up^ South Devon Railway newsletter 8

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *