When is the next train? That will cost you a fiver…

myrail

There was a great free application for the iPhone, called “My Rail Lite”. Regardless of whether you believe the iPhone (or trouser Mac, as I prefer to call it) is the second coming or not, this was unquestionably a useful thing to have.  I used it virtually every morning to see whether I had to run for my train, or whether the lovely train operating companies had decided not to bother running any trains today. Then, this morning, as I was checking, I was greeted by this little message:

My Rail Lite not working any more

So, it seems that National Rail Enquiries have revoked the license they offered to Kizoom (who make the app) to use real time timetable data. Awesome. So not only do The Railways (yes, I know that term encompasses about a zillion different companies) keep putting their prices up, they also want to charge us for the privilege of finding out whether their trains are running. Most apps on the app-store cost £1.80 or so… They’re charging £5 for something that used to be free. I’m not the only one who is unimpressed.

So, if you’d like to grumble at them, here’s the feedback form, and here’s something to get you started:

Hi,

I’d like to know why you have forced My Rail Lite to be shut down, so that we have to pay a tax to find out how late your trains are running. When it suits you, you pretend that the rail system is an open market, and that consumers are free to choose which services to use, and yet a key part of that choice is being allowed to see what is on offer (your fabulously overcrowded sweaty trains).

Thanks for shutting down a great app. Do you actually want people to choose cars over trains?

Personally, this may be the spur I need to write a little Blackheath web-app that scrapes their poxy, ad ridden, poorly designed site, and sticks it into an iPhone friendly format…. Where did I leave that O’Reilly book on Python?

NB: Apologies for the excessively geeky tone of this email… Normal service will be resumed as soon as the Bugle has calmed down, and dismounted from his high horse.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “When is the next train? That will cost you a fiver…

  1. James

    I was pretty annoyed too

    could check the train times in bed, and see whether I could sneak another 15 mins kip

  2. Matt

    I don’t have an iPhone but I do tend to check the train times on the internet on my phone – I heartily recommend this site for the purpose:

    http://m.traintimes.org.uk/bkh/lbg

    That’ll tell you the next few trains from Blackheath (bkh) to London Bridge (lbg), with no added nonsense. Change the lbg at the end to chx for charing cross or any other rail station code. You can even put full station names in.
    I’m sure it’s not quite as easy as a dedicated app BUT once it’s in your favourites it’s pretty quick going.

  3. Lee turner conn

    This was my favorite app ever. I just have an I touch and loved it. Will send harshly worded letter right now. ¬£110 a month I pay to travel on this train and they’re insane if they think I’ll pay more to see a schedule. Furious.

  4. er

    There are ways to get them free of course, apparently

  5. Stephen

    Thank god others are so begruged over this…My Rail Lite was the final selling feature of the iPhone for me.

    This is the complaint I submitted:

    ————
    Hi,

    When the government privatised the rail service it was based around the concept that a better public service would be provided. In not renewing the “My Rail Light” iPhone license to distribute public information, you have greatly eroded the trust and of those you serve. This information is part of your public service and should freely available, for any and all to distribute via any medium available.

    Please, Please, re-instate the My Rail Light license.

    Regards,

    Stephen

  6. I was mildly vexed by this as well, although the National Rail version does give you access to the full journey planner. I believe the plan was to offer this in a paid-for version of the “MyRail” app at some point.

    Freebie fans could also look at bookmarking Southeastern’s live departure boards and running information like so…
    http://www.livedepartureboards.co.uk/southeastern/sumdep.aspx?T=BKH
    http://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/live_running.php

  7. singhy

    I completely agree; National Rail are a public body who are not only publicly subsidised but receive private money from the extortionate train fees we have to pay, but are now taking £5 from thousands of us to provide us with information that should be available for free. It is nothing but a profit-making exercise and an absolute disgrace. I would ask everyone to please go onto the National Rail app on iTunes and make sure everyone who is spending £5 does so without being naive!

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