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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.

Graham Charlton

Published 29 October, 2009 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (9)

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I like the app, very handy indeed. I like the 'Next train home' option when it boots up.

But I do think they've missed a trick with not being able to purchase a ticket via the app, even sending you to the site after you've searched would help but nothing.

Oh and yeah, what's with the twitter thing, are people going to tweet about the journey so i can read real time tweets as travel news or something??

over 7 years ago



Totally agree. I wanted the National Rail app, but £4.99 is a ridiculous price... especially when I pay an extortionate amount for my monthly ticket (maybe it should have been free for season ticket holders? Discuss).

The 'thetrainline' app seems to contain all the functionality I need. Admittedly I've only played around with it at my desk but overall this looks like it will do everything I need. Not too bothered about buying tickets through it, but they should follow the Amazon app approach if they want people to use it that way.

Ideally some live 'service disruptions' push notification would be good.... fingers crossed eh?

over 7 years ago


james ainsworth

Like many people, I am not willing to stump up £5 for the official National Rail app-especially as it isnt too hard a task to use their website on the iphone anyway.

It was only a matter of time that someone came along and brought out a free app that does similar things but as you point out, the checkout function is a missed opportunity on where the company could clean up and corner the ihone train ticket sales market

The app could also do more with live updates and let you know of delays, especially on your 'favourite routes'

Altogether, it is a great app that isnt stupidly priced.

over 7 years ago


Kev Charlton

This is great,

I have regularly used the trainline website on my iphone anyway, but this is much easier to use. Absolutely love the 'next train home' feature, very very handy...

over 7 years ago


Joe Macintosh

I just picked this up from my morning surfing. Looks good but I dont yet have an iPhone (note the word 'yet').

I have a Bberry and have succesully been using an app provided by Cross Country trains. Admittedly you do download the time tables you need (paddington to cardiff in my case). great for using on the tube to see what time and platform the next trains are and avoid the Padders Stampede. I will it had live times and updates.

Looks like I will have a new app on my new iPhone soon then.

over 7 years ago



I've been using the iPhone app published by CrossCountry trains for the last month. It too is free and provides real time info for the entire uk rail network, including delays, disruptions and plan your journeys around these on the move with your iPhone, maps of the local area, save your favourite destinations - in short it's been incredibly useful!

Before purchasing my iPhone i was using their mobile app which is also really good, allowing all of the above, purchase of tickets, checking next train departing from etc the mobile app is available from


i look forward to giving the app above a look to see if it comes up to scratch with the CrossCountry trains offering

over 7 years ago



i had the same problem but i unlocked my iphone to use it on any network using www.unlock-iphone.org

over 7 years ago


Tim Gray

Brilliant wee application. Coming into London ina week's time - and I can compare train times from the three airports I might consider, in a flash!  Thankyou "Trainline".

over 7 years ago



I can't tell if thetrainline app also gives you updated info on delays and cancellations etc. Does it?

over 6 years ago

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