The video above by the MIT Senseable City lab is one of the nicest I have seen to illustrate train and passenger flows along a rail network. The network itself, the SNCF high speed trains in France, is fairly sparse in terms of the number of trains passing along it each day so the visuals can be kept relatively clean and simple. As the quote from the team below suggests, this animation is a nice way of quantifying the impact of train delays both in terms of their duration and also the number of passengers affected.
“Trains, at times, do run late. While a rail network operator is interested in reducing overall delay as such, an especially critical aspect relates to the number of passengers directly affected by such delays and their location.
In this visualization we combine data on the time trains run behind schedule with the actual number of passengers on any train at any moment. This information is represented at the actual location of a train on SNCF’s high speed rail network. With this, a rail operator can quickly understand where many passengers are affected by train delays and use this information to take appropriate action, ultimately limiting delay per passenger and increasing overall passenger satisfaction.”