A time track, also called a temporal track or time path, (PROSE: A Device of Death) was a path through time related to a time vessel or traveller. "Jumping" a time track could place a time traveller off their intended destination in time, and could even cross their own destiny.
According to the Fifth Doctor, time tracks were to time what parallel dimensions were to spacetime, running side by side like grooves on a record. Travel along the groove and time progressed or regressed in a linear fashion, but skipping a groove meant the distance travelled increased or decreased exponentially. (AUDIO: Aquitaine) Compassion considered the record analogy - and by extension the term "skipping a time track" - to be overly simplistic explanations. (PROSE: The Brakespeare Voyage)
The Sixth Doctor explained that time tracks could diverge from the causal nexus of a large time fissure, allowing for travel to a parallel universe (AUDIO: The Wreck of the Titan) or an alternate timeline, (TV: The Space Museum, AUDIO: The Mutant Phase) although the Fifth Doctor stated that travel to a parallel universe was not possible as the time tracks didn't meet.
Crossing time tracks created recursions that had unpredictable effects. They behaved differently in different universes. (AUDIO: Renaissance of the Daleks) The First Doctor and Susan Foreman visited the fourth universe which didn't run exactly parallel to N-Space as its time tracks crossed at an angle. (AUDIO: Quinnis)
The distance between time tracks is non-linear, as the Fifth Doctor mentions when he is on the Aquitaine. It is subject to Delahay's inverse cube law, which means that although someone may have only been thrown backwards in time a few seconds, they will actually be about three hours behind. (AUDIO: Aquitaine)
TARDISes either possessed or created time tracks as they travelled. An Osiran lodestone picked up the residual vortex energy of the Doctor's TARDIS's time track, drawing it off course. (PROSE: The Sands of Time) While looking for a TARDIS to copy for the Rani, Iam found the Sixth Doctor's space-time track and copied his TARDIS. (PROSE: State of Change)
The First Doctor jumped a time track in the TARDIS. The TARDIS seemed to only partially materialise, turning the Doctor and his companions into ghost-like visitants in an alternative future timeline in which they had becomes exhibits in the Moroks' Space Museum on Xeros. (TV: The Space Museum)
The Fifth Doctor's TARDIS jumped a time track and was thrown through a time corridor, ending up in an alternate timeline in which the Daleks mutated into insect-like monsters. (AUDIO: The Mutant Phase)
TARDISes possessed a time path indicator, which alerted travellers if something was following them along their same path. (PROSE: The Dark Path) Time track crossing protection protocols were pre-set circuits in TARDISes that were supposed to be engaged all the time. When visiting a place multiple times, this prevented a TARDIS from reaching it by making the TARDIS think it had just been somewhere when it really hadn't. The Doctor's TARDIS's protocol was sometimes engaged and sometimes not, which often caused it to jump time tracks. (AUDIO: Renaissance of the Daleks)
The Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler chased a Chula ambulance through the Time Vortex. It began jumping time tracks and the Doctor lost it for a while which caused it to jump ahead of the TARDIS. He managed to find where it landed and believed it to only have landed, at maximum, a month before he and Rose arrived. (TV: The Empty Child)
The Eleventh Doctor suspected that the TARDIS had slipped a time track when he, Amy and Rory were having several dreams, before discovering it was the work of psychic pollen which had fallen into the TARDIS' time rotor. (TV: Amy's Choice)
Behind the scenes Edit
In Dimensions in Time, a 1993 thirtieth anniversary story not considered part of the DWU by this wiki, the Seventh Doctor was trapped by the Rani, and was jumping time tracks between the years 1973, 1993, and 2013. During this time, he jumped back and forth between his third, fifth, sixth and seventh incarnations, while Ace, his current present companion, became a number of his past companions.