Train Allocation Systems

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TOPS (Total Operations Processing System) is a mainframe system introduced by British Rail in the mid 1970s.

It was originally designed for the management and control of freight vehicles and trains, but has since been expanded to handle all locomotive activities, and act as the controlling source of all train schedules (passenger and freight), driving TRUST and various downstream train performance and billing systems.

On TOPS all locations on the railway network are identified by 5-digit STANOX codes.
Location names when they appear are abbreviated to 9 letter STANME codes.
Example train schedule from TOPS

Loco Pool reports on TOPS can show the status and location of locomotives in each of the freight operators fleet.
Locomotives in use with passenger train operators may appear with the comment 'Under Genius control'.
Example pool report from TOPS
Example pool report from TOPS, simplified format

Operating Status of Locos is indicated by single letter STA codes. Train category COM codes may also appear.

How to read TOPS reports

Each train listed on TOPS or TRUST has a unique Train ID made up from ten characters, e.g. 541S23MS18.
The first two numbers are taken from the STANOX where the train originates, in this example 54311 London Kings Cross.
Characters 3 to 6, 1S23, are the headcode.
The seventh character M refers to the type of schedule, Short Term Planning (STP) trains would have a number, ususally 1.
The 8th character S refers to the origin departure time, and the final two characters 18 refer to the day of the month that the train departed.

Some information on Loco defect and repair codes can be found here: <TOPS Repair Codes>


TRUST (Train Running System TOPS) monitors train movements for punctuality.

The system was introduced by BR in the mid 1980s, by privatisation it had national coverage and became the source of information for the performance regime, where train operators get fined or compensated for delays.

The system works by taking a copy of each train's schedule (the train's planned journey details) and creating a parallel record against which the actual departure, arrival and passing times at designated locations are recorded.

The actual train movement events are generated automatically on routes with Track Circuit Block signalling but requires manual input at other locations.

By comparing the actual events against the plan, TRUST is able to detect when a train has lost time between two locations, and automatically prompts staff for an explanation of the reason behind this loss of time.

These delays are then allocated to incidents and categorised for performance analysis.

TRUST is a useful tool for rail staff to check on real-time running of trains. Many staff use the terms 'TRUST' and 'TOPS' interchangeably.

Example TRUST report


GENIUS is used by passenger train operators for controlling the allocation of trains.

It links to TOPS and GEMINI. It is also provides information on train crew.

GENIUS is a graphical system and can highlight trains which are out of position or have defects which require a diagram swap.


GEMINI is the system used for managing Multiple-unit trains
It is used in the same way that TOPS is used for managing locomotives.
It keeps track of unit formations, records mileage, reported defects and maintenance requirements.

GEMINI can report on units, fleets, diagrams, and locations.


Train Operator Companies such as Scotrail now use a map-based system called 'P2' to provide train running information to station staff.


CCF (Control Centre of the Future) is a Network Rail system similar to P2 which shows the precise movements of trains over the track layout in power signalling controlled areas.

As well as showing real-time running, it can playback earlier train movements.