The app is Realtime Trains, available on iOS and Android, and it lets you view live train running information. Whilst this is something that many apps offer, Realtime Trains is a little more clever. It’ll tell you whether a train is approaching the station, or has already arrived at the platform (not always possible at all stations). Sometimes it can even tell you the platform that a train is due in on before it’s announced at the station.
You can set an alarm for a train, so that your phone alerts you when it’s 5 minutes away (or any other time period). And you can mark stations and individual train journeys as favourites – handy for people like me who commute to work on the same trains every day. Timetables can be pinned to the app’s home screen, so that they will work offline if needed.
Selecting a train service will show you the route, with calling points, along with who operates it, its current location and whether it is running on time or delayed.
If you don’t know where your nearest station is, you can select ‘Nearest’ when searching, and it will plot all stations within 10 miles (customisable) of your location on a map. From there, you can view running information, and filter it by destination.
The app builds on the awesome Realtime Trains web site, which provides a huge amount of detail about train services, and is popular with enthusiasts. As yet, there isn’t an ‘advanced’ mode in the app, like there is on the web site, but this is planned for future. This allows you to see when trains pass certain junctions or pass through stations without stopping, for those who like to know such things, and lets you view freight services as well as passenger trains.
Realtime Trains is primarily run by a university student, Tom Cairns, in his free time whilst studying Computer Science. It’s an impressive undertaking. The app is £2.99, and available on iPhone and iPod Touch, and Android devices – an iPad version is in the works. Curiously, the Android app pre-dated the iOS app by some months, which is the opposite of how most apps are developed these days.