National Rail Enquiries
The train now arriving on Platform 3...
Android App of the Week I should use local trains more often, but there are several reasons why I don’t. One is I’ve no idea where most of my local stations are, let alone the ones dotted further afield around Manchester. Secondly, I can’t be bothered picking up timetables.
The new National Rail Enquiries app solves both these problems and could herald a new era of local train usage of Android - and iPhone, it’s a simultaneous release - users. Or at least this particular Android user.
Find your nearest station (left) or your way home (right)
The main feature of this app is that it pulls all the available rail network data live from National Rail so it’s as reliable and current as it’s possible to be and will flag up any problems. On what’s probably the least reliable rail network in Western Europe this info is rather handy.
One signal function is the ability to monitor train arrival times. Very useful if you're picking someone up, or if you are on a train and want to give an accurate time of arrival. You can pin individual services to the app if you use or meet the same train regularly.
Monitor stations (left) and trains (right) in real time
A features I really like, though, is the one labelled 'Get Me Home' - or more often than not in my case 'Get Me Home, I’m Lost and Drunk'. The app notes your location and shows you the various journey options from the nearest stations to whichever spot you have set as your domicile.
Using this feature over the last week has opened my eyes to a plethora of local train options in Manchester. I had no idea you could even get from Salford Crescent to Manchester airport direct.
Create push alerts (left) - handy for services you use regularly (right)
Regular commuters can set up push notifications that will let them know if their service is subject to disruption. I’d have sold my left testicle for this when I worked for Sony in London but lived in Bedfordshire. Every evening’s arrival at King’s Cross was laden with trepidation in those days.
With so much information on offer, the developers have made a good fist of keeping things simple by grouping the various functions into sections called My Travel, Live Trains, Planner and Settings for your alerts, preferences and favorites.
Check out train times (left) and stops en route (right)
What the app won’t do is let you book or pay for tickets, but The Trainline has a more-than-serviceable app for that and it generally offers the best prices.
The only leaves on the track are the adverts, which are rather obtrusive and if you want to get shot of them it will cost you an eye-watering and pocket-gouging £4.99. ®
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I'm currently workling in Bern, Switzerland right now and the main operator here is SBB [in Swiss German]. Their application is also very good, and is free. Ad' free and free to download. For Andriod, Nokia N9 [my device] and the Apple stuff.
The Swiss view is : this will generate revenue by 'helping' people to get the correct train at the correct time. What is the word I am looking for.... it is a SERVICE!
Why does Blighty have to be like Little America and charge for SERVICE ?????????
Yes, it should be free.
Or rather, some of the stupid money gouged out of me for tickets should have gone towards packaging this public information into a free app.
@Piloti - The Swiss (and German model) is to provide a SERVICE to the PUBLIC.
The UK model without gouge the public to fatten corporate pockets.
They both work well for their intended purpose.
For purchasing tickets, don't use TheTrainline, use an app provided by one of the train operating companies, it doesn't have to be your local one. That way, you don't pay booking fees.
On iDevices, TheTrainline is probably better for general information on services, as you can download timetables, and it doesn't have adverts. The Android version isn't anywhere near as good as the iVersion, as it doesn't have the ability to use GPS to find your nearest station, or download timetables.
If you want to buy tickets to London to connect with a Eurostar service, RailEasy sells a "London International" ticket which allows peak-time travel at off-peak prices for Eurostar ticket holders. There is a booking fee, but it can still work out cheaper than paying for a full price ticket elsewhere.
The train now arriving at platforms 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 has come in sideways...