National Rail Enquiries defends free iPhone App cutoff decision

Train info will now cost

TODO alt text

National Rail Enquiries has defended its decision to cut off the information from popular free iPhone application My Rail Lite, just days after launching its premium paid-for app.

The decision of National Rail Enquiries – whose remit is to provide national rail information for the broadest possible audience – to cut off My Rail Lite has been met with disgust from some users.

The free application, which used GPS to track the closest station, and indexed train times and delays, was showing: "We regret that this service has been discontinued as our license to distribute real-time train information from National Rail Enquiries for live departure boards has not been renewed.

"We apologise for any inconvenience and thank you for your interest and support."

Fiver application

Users will have to fork out £4.99 for the official National Rail Enquiries iPhone application, which offers almost identical functionality to My Rail Lite, but a spokseman told TechRadar that profit was not its motivation.

"My Rail Lite were basically skimming the information, they never did have a licence," a National Rail Enquiries spokesman said.

"The information is still readily available through web browsers – the National Rail Enquiries app allows you to find the nearest station with GPS."

Functionality match

TechRadar pointed out that My Rail Lite had similar functionality, to which the response was: "the guys who developed the National Rail Enquiries app were the first to approach us. We wouldn't rule out working with other people.

"We incurred costs and part of our remit is to run the service as efficiently as possible. The reality is that, at the end of the day, if people didn't like the app they wouldn't pay for it."

In actual fact, the reality is that many people have been left furious by the decision – and feel that the motivation is financial, despite the National Rail Enquiries denial.

Fury

"It's no coincidence that they release an over-expensive app and then suddenly all the rivals are shut down," said one user to TechRadar.

"There's no way I'm paying £5 for the same functionality as I had before. National Rail Enquiries is supposed to be a service for my information. Why couldn't they have left things as they were?"

We are awaiting a response from My Rail Lite makers Kizoom but they have already told the BBC that they felt that they did have a licence for the information and that NRE had disagreed over whether that licence extended to the iPhone app.