Rail ticket retailer thetrainline has just released a new free iPhone app, which allows users to check UK train timetables and plan journeys.

With the only competition being the Rail Enquiries iPhone app, which retails at £4.99, then it could be a popular app. I’ve been taking a closer look…

The user interface on the trainline app is nice and simple, and allows users to plan their journey. The app also stores previous searches and places a shortcut on the homepage, which makes subsequent searches easier: 

With so many stations to choose from, it helps that you can use the phone’s GPS to find the nearest station to your current location. Otherwise, you can enter the station, choose from the map, or simply scroll up and down the list: 

You can search for the next available train, or plan ahead:

Results are well presented, and you can click on any particular journey for more details. There is also a link to buy tickets, but this leads to the main trainline website, which isn’t the easiest to use on a mobile. 

Also, the link to buy tickets is right at the bottom of the results page, and seems like an afterthought. If thetrainline wants customers to be able to buy tickets from the app, which some would find useful, then a checkout designed for mobile is the way to do it.

It has also integrated Twitter into the app in a slightly odd way. Once you have picked a journey, you have the option to Tweet about it via the app, though nobody seems to have done so as yet.

The app has some useful extras too. I searched for a train to King’s Cross, and was provided with a map of the area, as well as a list of numbers for local taxi firms and available facilities at the station. You can also get Tube updates:

This is a very useful app for regular rail travellers, containing some nice touches such as taxi information and looking up nearby stations. The mobile commerce part is bit half-hearted, though this is something which could be added to the app in future.

Since I’m too cheap to pay £4.99, I can’t really compare it to the National Rail Enquiries app, but it is useful, and I think plenty of iPhone users will opt to download the trainline app instead and save a fiver.