National Rail Enquiries for iPhone review

The App Store is packed to the rafters with vaguely handy ‘utilities’ but it’s not often you find an app that genuinely improves upon how you used to do things. In National Rail Enquiries we’ve found an accurate, functional app that’s much quicker than phoning up the National Rail Enquiries ‘hotline’ and waiting in the queue for an operator.

The app allows you to set a ‘Home’ station, as well as multiple favourites. Once set, you’ll have buttons on the app’s home screen that take you straight to departures from those stations.

Your Home station has the added functionality of enabling you to plan your journey home with one click from anywhere on the National Rail Network – just tap the button and the app looks up where you are using the iPhone’s location services, finds your nearest stations, and tells you what time the trains are leaving.

The app also has search features that allow you to plan any journey with ‘To’ and ‘From’ fields. You can search for stations by typing in names, and select from your favourites, recents, or nearest. The app will also tell you if engineering works are taking place, giving you revised journey times and notification of rail replacement buses.

It’s not quite perfect. It doesn’t allow you to search for trains in the past, so if you want to find out what time the train you just caught gets to your destination you can’t do it. It would be helpful too if the app could tell you the price of tickets, but given National Rail’s complex pricing structure it’s perhaps a good job the developers didn’t open that can of worms.

It is pricey, and many reviewers on the App Store are up in arms that National Rail Enquiries nixed the free app MyRail Lite when this £4.99 app came out.

OUR VERDICT

If you can swallow this rather cynical ‘monetisation’ of timetable data, then the National Rail Enquiries app is massively helpful, and one you’ll turn to again and again.

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