I’m going to surprise you: the same trains don’t run day after day. Nope, it’s true. They don’t. The quarry may send out a dozen trains to different destinations, but unless you’ve got a big local industry, it’s unlikely that your station will want a delivery every day.

There is also the question of market days, of seasons (there is more need for coal in winter than in summer), of holiday periods (when trains were the usual public transport, huge numbers of Saturday-extra trains took holiday-makers off for a week or brought them back at the end of it). And most people didn’t work on Sundays: well into the railway era, it was a sin do anything that fell outside the Lord’s teachings, and similar strictures applied for other faiths as well. Later, of course, this changed – but so did working hours.

The outcome of this is that both freight and passenger traffic have patterns and rhythms through the week and through the year. It’s hard to recreate this in manual operating systems, but Wagonflow makes it simple. Its timetabling system has built-in “setters” for the common patterns such as “Daily, Except Saturday and Sunday”, or “Fridays Only”, but you can add more if you need them for frequencies such as once every four weeks, for a period of the year such as harvest time, or even for Christmas day only. Take a look at the Timesetters screen below:

Timesetters screen

In the black panel at the bottom you'll see a set of four patterns – some of the commonest seasonal and other non-daily patterns. You choose the pattern (“setter”) type you want, and an example then appears in the display to guide you in making a new one. Here, the user has set code 21 to require a train once every fortnight, visiting on the second Thursday.

This Timesetters screen is aimed at general timetabling, but a separate Blocksetters screen specialises in block (unit) trains. It has more detail, but it uses the same pattern as you see here.

Even if you don’t want a full-blooded timetabling system, using setters can still bring the variety that irregular trains will offer you.

And on the timetable it’s all nice and clean...