National Rail Enquiries review


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Using National Rail’s website on the iPhone can be frustrating since it can be slow to load and unwieldy to use, so this official application has been eagerly awaited. Previously, independent apps, such as Jack Hale’s Live Trains, were available but had to be withdrawn from the App Store due to National Rail’s legal threats. A previous official app, Kizoom’s MyRail Lite, was free but only had basic departure board information.

The first part of the app is the departures and arrivals boards. Frequently used stations can be saved to the app’s home screen for quick access. Tapping on the station’s name shows a list of all the trains leaving from that station, which platform the train will be departing from and even where that train is now and whether it is running late and by how many minutes. A separate tab shows similar information, but for arriving trains.

The second part of the app is the journey planner which lets you organise future trips. You can specify the date of your future trip and what time you want your train to arrive or depart, or choose to see times for the first or last trains of the day. The trip itinerary will show any train changes you need to take, how long your journey will take as well as details of the return trip if you chose this option. The itinerary will also incorporate any applicable bus replacement services, but you can’t see further details of the service advisory affecting your trip.

Usefully, the ten most recent journeys are automatically saved so you can view trip itineraries without an internet connection, Unfortunately the app lacks some of the more advanced journey planning options found on National Rail’s website, such as choosing only direct services or avoiding certain stations.

Unlike Live Trains, you can’t bookmark frequently taken journeys so you may have to do a lot of retyping. You can, however, specify a home station in the app’s settings so you can find details for the next train home from your current location by tapping the Next Train Home button on the app’s home page. You can specify your departure station manually or let the app find the nearest station using GPS.

Despite the lack of some advanced features, National Rail’s official iPhone app is a useful tool if you frequently travel by train. It’s pricy by App Store standards though. If you travel less frequently, you may be satisfied with the more basic web app at http://m.traintimes.org.uk/.

National Rail Enquiries info

Ease of use: [[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”thumbnail_60x60″,”fid”:”21622″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”60″,”width”:”60″}}]]

Platform: iPhone/iPod touch

Price: £4.99

Developer: Agant

Website/Demo: National Rail website

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