British Train Companies Are Releasing Data to Make Travel Apps Better

By Tom Pritchard on at

Rail travel sucks. It's awful. The southern trains barely operate on time, and the incoming passengers all swarm around the door while people are still trying to get off the damn things. The northern trains might as well not exist, seeing as how utterly terrible they are. What's the government doing about it? No clue, but the Department for Transport has teamed up with rail companies to try and make travel apps better.

The whole announcement hinges on train companies publishing more data in real time, which is supposed to help travel apps improve what they have to offer. You know, so you can see just how later your train to work is going to be before you walk into the station. It's also suggested that passengers will be able to see information about seating and toilet facilities more easily, which is a good idea. Assuming those toilets work, and aren't covered in literal shit.

Unless the train is packed because Northern cancelled every other train that day and felt two carriages was enough to transport half of Manchester.

The announcement also claims that better data work will help rail companies anticipate delays and issues ahead of time, which will supposedly make the whole network more efficient. I'll believe it when I see it, though.

To achieve these goals the rail companies have promised to release more timely and consistent information over the coming months, while removing barriers and working towards a standardised data delivery system. That also includes more transparency about what data can and can't be used, and how it's all collected in the first place. The government will be incentivising further innovation here, but it's not been revealed how. There probably need to be consultations first. []