Much like the UK’s multi-faceted railway system, there are also plenty of different train applications for your Nokia Lumia in the Windows Phone Marketplace.
Many of the apps share the same features. For example, they let you check the timetables, buy tickets and get live departure information.
However, each of the apps have one or two great individual features that make it stand apart from the rest.
Imagine if you could all of the great features combined into one great app?
So, here’s a rundown of some of the train apps for the UK railway system and the killer feature in each of them that I would like in my fantasy ultimate train app.
Apologies for the parochial approach, but trains were invented in Britain, if that’s any excuse… Anyway, here goes.
This is a comprehensive app that covers the entire UK railway network.
It gives you access to the official national rail train timetable, lets you buy tickets up to 10 minutes before you board the train and then sends you a code to collect the ticket from the station of your choice.
A nice touch is a Live Tile that reminds you to collect your ticket and it also lets you save your favourite and recent journeys to book repeat bookings a little easier.
Killer feature: Next train home – uses your Lumia’s location to find the nearest station and then plots a route for you to get back home.
Virgin Train Tickets, FREE
Although Virgin Trains is the rail franchise that runs up and down the west of Britain (technically called the West Coast Main Line), this app allows you to check live timetables and buy tickets for the entire rail network.
Killer feature: You can get your tickets sent straight to your mobile, so there’s no need for collection at the station or for printing out your tickets.
Journey Pro, Free
This app is unique among the railway apps in that it also encompasses London Underground, London buses, DLR, Tramlink and river services. It also has Birmingham Tram, Glasgow subway and all domestic flights.
Journey Pro also has interactive maps that calculate the best route from A to B using the different modes of transport.
Killer feature: Particularly for Londoners, this app is a utopian glimpse of a fully integrated transport network.
Train Travel, £4.99
I’ll just come straight out and say it: This is an expensive app.
It has a slick interface that lets you check live train timetables and to plan your journeys. A major disappointment is that you can’t buy train tickets.
So, why does it cost so much? Two letters: AR. Hold your phone up and it has an augmented reality train and London Underground viewer.
Killer feature: Augmented Reality. Some of you will love it and others will dismiss it as a gimmick that doesn’t justify the cost.
Train Tickets, FREE
This is the official application of CrossCountry trains – another railway franchise that operates several inter-city routes in the UK.
Trainspotters will inform you that CrossCountry runs that longest direct train journey in the UK, from Penzance in Cornwall to Aberdeen in Scotland, a journey of over 13 hours.
The app does everything you expect: live national rail timetables, plan a journey, find your nearest station and you can also buy tickets. If the ticket is for a CrossCountry journey then that could also be delivered straight to your phone, otherwise you’ll need to collect it from a station.
Killer feature: You can buy tickets without the need for registering or signing in. It’s a simple idea, but something of a rarity.
My Stop, £0.79p
Well, we were looking for unique features and this one fits the bill.
My Stop uses your Lumia’s GPS to identify when your destination station is approaching and sounds an alarm to inform you. Useful for people who fall asleep on trains, right?
It does not have live departures, timetables, ticket sales or any of that stuff but you can save favourite journeys, see weather information at your destination and it also works underneath the lock screen.
Killer feature: Wake up, you’ve arrived!
What features would you like to see on your train apps? If there any good features in non-UK apps, let us know in the comments box below.