We all remember putting through those calls: "Hello, when is the last train from Waterloo…?". Timetables are one thing, but being able to talk to a human being who can answer your simple questions was one of the charming things about phoning National Rail Enquiries.
Of course in this day of apps galore, there are plenty of travel apps out there. One of the nice things about having a smartphone is being able to get live information into the palm of your hand. Today we're looking at the app that brings national rail services to your phone.
National Rail Enquiries
- Google Play
Some rail apps are based around buying. They will let you browse and buy tickets, which is useful to a point: they show schedules. However, the premise of the National Rail Enquiries app is better suited to creatures of habit.
One of the first things you are prompted to do on opening the app is enter your home and work stations. You simply select your local station so you have access to it as soon as you open the app.
There is also a big button on this opening screen that simply reads "Get me home". It's the button that gives you the instant information you need when it really counts.
You're standing in a bar in central London. You said you'd be home by 9pm. It's just gone 11. You have no idea when the last train is, how you get to it, or if you'll make it home. Mrs Pocket-lint is sending you messages asking when you'll be back.
"Get me home" is a lifesaver. One press and you'll get the information you need. Perhaps you've missed the last train, in which case you might as well get back to the party and get a taxi at 3am. Or, you might just have time to run to the station and get yourself home.
For many, of course, the National Rail Enquiries app will be most useful for the live results. You'll be able to see when there is a problem so you can alert those you're meeting that you'll be late. You can also plan routes so you know where you're going.
The thing we really like about the way the information is displayed is that you get a list so you can easily see what your options are. You can plan journeys setting departure or arrival times. If you're a regular rail user, there is a lot of useful information to be had.
Or you can simply dive into the live train times and see how services are running. Expecting a visitor? You can see when their train will arrive so you can collect them from the station.
Of course, we've only been able to test this within the confines of our own travel over thepast week, where it has performed well. Although this version is free, it is ad supported, with an exorbitant £4.99 requested for the ad-free version.
Freed from the clutter of ticket sales, the National Rail Enquiries app didn't have to do much to win a place in our hearts. Like a suburban rail service train, we've been waiting for this to arrive for some time.