Realtime Trains has a number of different sources of revenue to operate the site and the work we do. We have been, over the course of the last 6 months, reviewing our input revenue and the costs of operating the site and our other activities to support it.
There have been a number of events over the course of the last 18 months that have resulted in an increase to our operational costs. Up to now, we have been absorbing these cost increases through other workstreams. As some of these come to a natural conclusion, we have to take steps to ensure that the site has sufficient revenue to continue to operate and to bolster our cash reserves so we can afford the next ‘rainy day’. Our last ‘rainy day’, in March and April 2020, resulted in an 80% drop in our revenues almost overnight.
We’d like to spend more time focusing our energies towards improving the site rather than having to generate revenue through other routes. This would allow us to roll out new features, such as Track Your Train’s expansion across the network, faster than we presently can due to the complexities of resourcing the time of our team (and no, it’s not just me anymore.) To do this, we ideally need to increase the amount of money that comes from the operation of the site itself. The only clear options on this front are to review the advertising or seek sponsorship of the site. The latter is significantly complex to achieve so we concluded to review the former as a first step.
We have been in discussions with a number of advertising technology providers over the last month. From these discussions, we have elected to perform a series of trials over the next year. These trials may end at any time. In these trials, compared to now you may see more adverts, different sized or in different locations.
From today, we are trialling a new provider of advertisement services onto RTT. It is vitally important to us that we do not damage the user experience of the site and we would welcome your feedback on any of the changes that we are making. We will review the arrangements internally from your feedback frequently and work with the provider(s) on the appropriate mitigations that are necessary. If you do have feedback, then please email it to the usual place.
If these trials are successful, we intend to increase the number of donations that we are able to make to railway preservation or other projects. In the past, we have contributed to 125 Group’s Project Miller, SETG’s work to restore 4VEP EMU 3417 and, recently, the Class 442 DTS(A) fundraiser. More information on this will follow in due course if the trial is successful.
Thank you for continuing to use Realtime Trains and we hope that these changes will allow us to dedicate a lot more time to improving the site.