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Government Transportation United Kingdom

UK's National Rail Shuts Down Free Timetable App 145

Posted by timothy
from the hey-buddy-we-said-often-not-always dept.
JHaselden points to this "sad tale of one developer's trying time with the National Rail, the owners of the UK's train timetable data, which flies in the face of the recent assertion of Chris Scoggins (Chief Executive, National Rail Enquiries) in Wired recently stating that they had 'opened up' their data, 'often free of charge.'" This is a good case for keeping your old emails handy; the app's author uses cut-and-paste to excellent effect in his correspondence with the rail system.
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UK's National Rail Shuts Down Free Timetable App

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  • Alternative (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr_Silver (213637) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @07:46AM (#34109686)

    Been there many years ago with television listings presented on a mobile phone. In my case, some of the TV channels felt the listings were copyrighted to them (despite actually encouraging people to watch them!) so I had to pull the service.

    In the end, I rewrote the code to screen-scrape the websites in question and released the code as a download. I was no longer running a publically available service and those people who wanted to use it had to download and set up the code themselves - which was nicely covered under the T&C's which stated "personal, non profit use only".

    You do get a problem where if they change the layout then you have to re-code but big companies tend to do this very infrequently. For me it was more about the desire to keep the itch that I wanted scratched up and running than anything else.

  • Dear Riders ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @07:48AM (#34109692)
    Dear Riders,
    Recently we've become aware of a non-commercial use of our timetables. It is our position that commercial use of these timetables is strictly prohibited and it is highly likely that any license - even those we did not require in the past - will include a charge.

    Based on the facts clearly outlined above, and not our website which used to say something different, we do hereby eliminate your only way of getting live timetable and on-time updates. No, we do not provide this service for you - some poor sap does for free - and will not be doing so in the future.

    Enjoy your ride,
    Maj. AssHat
    NR/ATOC
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by zippthorne (748122)

      If the tables are easy to obtain, people would realize the trains aren't really running on time.

      Obviously they're trying to prevent another Mussolini.

      • by xaxa (988988)

        You know when the trains are late because of the recorded announcement (or the same thing shown on the electronic board).

        "The next service to arrive at platform three will be the delayed seventeen fourty-seven South West Trains service to London Waterloo." I can't help but think of the carefully pronounced voice here... at a rough estimate, in the last five years I've "him" speak about 3000 times, and I only took the train to work for six months...)

        Once the delay is over ten minutes or so you get:
        "The seven

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by teh kurisu (701097)

      This has nothing to do with the usage of their data being 'commercial' or otherwise (despite their rather bizarre assertion that a free Android app constitutes commercial usage). It has everything to do with National Rail maintaining a monopoly over data pertaining to a public service, so that they can make money out of it.

      This isn't the first time that National Rail have killed apps like this. The Apple App Store used to be full of them, until National Rail had them pulled [telegraph.co.uk] because they competed with thei [apple.com]

      • by Macgrrl (762836)

        Down here in Melbourne, Australia we have a free app from Metlink (called Metlink), which gives you the timetables for all bus, train and tram services, including country trains and the after midnight bus service (public transport isn't 24/7 down here as yet).

        Neat features included in this app is the ability to program a starting location, a destination and either a departure or arrival time and it will plot the most efficient route for you.

        It also includes a feature reporting all service cancellations and

  • WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bcmm (768152) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @07:50AM (#34109698)
    What are they worried about? The risk that this might lead to customers sucessfully using their service?
    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Funny)

      by ciderbrew (1860166) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @07:53AM (#34109704)
      I've been using the trains for years and I've yet to see a successful service.
      • by Haeleth (414428)

        The services are so successful that they're packed with travellers and those who don't reserve seats often don't get one.

        What's your definition of success?

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by ciderbrew (1860166)
          I think you may be suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

          I think I might have it too. My definition is - I expect a train at my station (could be late). This train takes so long that I have to run from the station to work every morning. If I try to get an earlier train something must go wrong and that service is cancelled. Of course I expect the ticket price to go up each year.

          I wonder if there is a correlation chart for obesity rates and train overcrowding?
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          A successful service is not just a profit making service.

          I commuted by train last year. During the winter for I found that 1 in 10 trains would be delayed/cancelled. I got so angry with the way we were treated that I chose to cycle 20 miles a day in snow just so I didn't have to use their service.

          Just because the trains are busy doesn't mean that they are good - it means that there is no other option

          • I chose to cycle 20 miles a day in snow just so I didn't have to use their service.

            I often choose to ride my bicycle (only ~12 miles) instead of taking the local buses - they're on time according to the printed schedules (pretty much), but the problem is in the setup of those schedules.
            I can't really ride in snow (because I have a road bike instead of a mountain bike?), but I'll often ride if it's too hot or too cold if the paths are clear.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
        We should get the Japanese to run our national rail system. Their services measure lateness of trains in seconds instead of minutes.
        • Re:WTF (Score:5, Funny)

          by TheLink (130905) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @09:24AM (#34110290) Journal

          Heh, you should see a Japanese person waiting at a non-japanese train station for the first time.

          They start getting anxious when it's 2 minutes and no train has showed up yet...

          Related links:
          http://www.japanechoweb.jp/economy/jew0210 [japanechoweb.jp]
          http://www.dannychoo.com/post/en/25405/Tokyo+Train+Timetable.html [dannychoo.com]

          Japan seems to be a really different country from the rest of the world.

          Joke: when the Japanese went to watch football in a football stadium, the stadium ended up cleaner when they were done... :).

          • Heh, they'd be screwed in Ireland. In Cork (second largest city in Ireland) our bus stops are just red poles with a bus logo on the top. Bus stops in the city centre sometimes have timetables attached, or some indicator as to which busses stop there, but anything a couple of minutes outside the centre is a mystery. It's pretty much a case of standing at bus stops and then seeing what'll turn up.

            Our bus system here works on the assumption that everyone using it knows the city and the routes. Punctual noobs a

            • Yeah, a lot of the local bus stops (Rochester, NY) will list what route(s) stop there, but they won't post timetables. Some stops have small glass, metal & bench shelters; the walls of those would be perfect for posting timetables, but I only sometimes actually see that being done. [I can halfway understand the "just a signpost" stops not posting timetables.]

          • That sounds to me kinda like *German* attention to detail. Okay, maybe the Japanese too, then...

        • by AndrewNeo (979708)

          Augh, my train is always 900 seconds late!

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by ewanm89 (1052822)
          Or the Swiss. There is a reason their trains run on time, and it's not just that they make accurate timepieces.
      • by JWSmythe (446288)

            The trains don't and up at the expected destinations?

    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Funny)

      by jeffasselin (566598) <cormacolinde@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:00AM (#34109736) Journal

      They're afraid terrorists will use those schedules to plan attacks!

    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:04AM (#34109754)
      They're probably afraid there will be a central database which shows just how regularly their services are late, and people will start claiming for ticket refunds based on that data.

      They really don't want that to be particularly easy, much less automated. All you'd need is to pick up the scheduled time and actula arrival time using this app, and you'd be well on your way to free train rides for life.
      • Re:WTF (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @09:37AM (#34110452)

        This information is already publicly tracked. I guess you don't travel by train or you'd know this because there are posters in all major stations advertising their two quality metrics, which are percentage of trains that ran, and percentage that ran to timetable.

        Operating companies that can't hit their targets have to refund part of the season ticket price, and may lose their franchise (this has happened in the past)

        The numbers got a lot better on most lines in the past years, as government funded a backlog of work on maintaining and improving railways. But that doesn't make headlines, nobody wants to hear "trains run slightly better for fifth year in a row".

        Nor do station improvements. "Station closed, Thousands unable to get to work" is a headline, but "Elevators installed to make all platforms accessible to the disabled" is not. Or safety improvements. "Fifty injured in train crash" is a news item, but "No-one killed due to trains not crashing" is not.

      • Re:WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MonsterTrimble (1205334) <monstertrimble@@@hotmail...com> on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @10:20AM (#34111090)
        I seriously don't get it though. Our municipal bus service (Winnipeg Transit) in the past few years has really started putting forward efforts to do this sort of thing free of charge. Trip planners, GPS on all busses, bus stop schedules available by text message, and we are currently (FINALLY!) putting in the first leg of rapid transit. Why any service would want to discourage this sort of thing is beyond me. Frankly, they should have offered this guy money to do it for them if they are planing on implementing it themselves.
        • by xaxa (988988)

          We've had all that for free for at least a decade in the UK, but generally only from one service provider (e.g. tfl.gov.uk for London transport, or nationalrail.co.uk for trains, or the local bus company's parent company for buses). There is a whole-UK one at transportdirect.info, which is OK but not that great.

          The difference is now people want a web service (rather than a web site) so they can implement their own interface.

      • by ais523 (1172701)
        I know that last time I claimed for a ticket refund, I sent the documentation and tickets like they requested. They replied with a form letter asking me to supply the tickets. But they had them now, not me, so I couldn't reply...
    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Captain Hook (923766) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:05AM (#34109758)

      What are they worried about? The risk that this might lead to customers sucessfully using their service?

      That a free to use service would compete against mobile apps which they may themselves may produce in the future and/or paid for apps which others may produce which they can charge commercial licenses for (made by real companies not which they can have proper business relations with, not a lone guy in a bedroom producing a paid for app).

      I really expect an app from National Rail to be arriving any time now based on the squirming exhibted in the corrspondense.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Mr_Silver (213637)

        I really expect an app from National Rail to be arriving any time now based on the squirming exhibted in the corrspondense.

        Based on this list [nationalrail.co.uk] it looks like their business model is to charge for the feeds and lets others manage the hassles of development, testing and publishing.

        You'll notice that they are all pretty expensive, I read somewhere else that this is because the cost for the licence to use the API is a lot of money and this forces up the pricing.

        • by Nick Ives (317)

          The Android Train Times UK app is actually pretty cheap at a fiver. Being able to see the departure / arrival boards as widgets on my home screens has saved me from many hours of sitting around waiting in train stations.

      • Re:WTF (Score:4, Interesting)

        by tim_retout (716233) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @09:12AM (#34110176) Homepage Journal

        I really expect an app from National Rail to be arriving any time now based on the squirming exhibted in the corrspondense.

        Well, nearly: they charge companies for the right to implement the apps for them [nationalrail.co.uk], who then sell them to the public at £5 a time.

        Except when they revoke licenses without warning, and get investigated under competition law [rail-reg.gov.uk]. See my other comment further down the page somewhere.

        I was sending emails to people about this all last week - if all the people who use the API now get in touch with one another, they might be able to collectively demonstrate just how much NRE is hindering innovation. And then the regulator can step in. (Email me via my website if you're interested!)

      • by _Shad0w_ (127912)

        National Rail have had an app on the iTunes store for ages and yes, it's pay-for.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sockatume (732728)

      It might lead customers to not buy their own £5 iPhone timetabling app.

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        thetrainline.com app and the CrossCountryTrains apps are free and do exactly the same thing.

        • thetrainline.com app certainly didn't tell you whether your train was on time or running late last time I checked. Does it now?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ErroneousBee (611028)

      I successfully used their website.

      It was so successful that I went to easyjet and booked a flight instead. No hassle involved at all.

    • by Patch86 (1465427)

      They're worried you won't pay them hard cash for the official app (iPhone version retailing at £4.99, I'm told) if you can get something as good or better for free.

      Not that the trains ever run at the times in the timetable anyway. I used to rigorously plan my journeys- now I find that the pot-luck method is just as effective, and at least adds a cheap thrill of uncertainty to your trip.

  • Late? (Score:4, Funny)

    by 19061969 (939279) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @07:58AM (#34109726)

    Given that this decision was by National Rail, I'm amazed that they came to a decision at all. I applied for a job once - got a description from the job center and wrote off to apply.

    Three months later, I got a reply. Fully expecting, "Sorry but the competition was too intense, etc" I instead got the application form. I replied with it within 24 hours. Over 1 year later, I finally got a rejection letter.

  • to everything being privatised.
  • Now he has a righteous slashdotting to add to his list of woes.

  • At no point in the first letter did Melanie state that it was free to use by the public and non-commercially. She may have assumed that the person already had a license for the non-commercial app listing timetable information, and wished for a commercial license.

    That's my take on it, anyway. IANAL etc etc.
    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      That's what I think too. You're supposed to make no money from your app while paying license fees to them. Which sounds very much like "we don't want to give data access to you but it'd be bad PR if we didn't offer it at all".
    • In which case, her wording would have likely been something like this:

      Licenses for this API/data are only available for personal, non-commercial uses.

      When there's absolutely no mention of licenses on either side, it implies, very strongly, that no license is required, or available.

  • Me too... (Score:5, Informative)

    by tim_retout (716233) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:08AM (#34109764) Homepage Journal

    I wrote the CPAN module for this API, and have had a similar cool response from NRE to my request for an API token.

    ATOC were investigated by the Office for Rail Regulation for possible breach of the Competition Act over this data (the full report is long, but interesting in its own way):
    http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/nav.2433 [rail-reg.gov.uk]

    "Critical to this conclusion was that we found no evidence that ATOC’s conduct in granting access to Darwin had prevented a new product from coming to market or hampered the emergence of new technology."

    I believe the ORR plans to revisit this decision at some point, to examine whether this is still true. So... if the efforts by local and central government to "persuade" ATOC to open this data do not produce results, one approach is to build as many cool, innovative apps on top of this API as possible while it still works. Then ask for licenses for them. If ATOC do not grant those licenses, the rejection notices can be handed to the regulator to show what effect this is having on development in this area.

    Bizarrely, you would think it would be in the interests of the Train Operating Companies for the public to have convenient access to this data - but the association that represents them seems more interested in making a quick buck on licensing Android and iPhone apps.

    • Re:Me too... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by stiggle (649614) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @09:03AM (#34110086)

      The key bit in their Code of Practice for access to the data ( http://www.atoc.org/about-atoc/national-rail-enquiries/code-of-practice [atoc.org] ) is:

      "Whether the proposed use is of additional benefit to passengers. Applications which in NRE’s reasonable opinion are of demonstrable
      benefit to passengers will be granted unless outweighed by a material adverse impact on TOCs (whether financially, strategically, operationally or in regards to their reputation or the reputation of the industry as a whole)."

      So their own code says they will kick you if you financially impact the TOCs (Train Operating Companies). ie. You produce a free product which competes with their own mobile apps.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JohnBailey (1092697)

      Bizarrely, you would think it would be in the interests of the Train Operating Companies for the public to have convenient access to this data - but the association that represents them seems more interested in making a quick buck on licensing Android and iPhone apps.

      You are obviously not compartmentalising enough.
      Companies that run public services such as this do not concern themselves with petty utility or such trivial things as efficiency. They have a brief,and they will stick to it no matter what. Their goal is to publish the timetable data. Not for anybody to actually use it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jimicus (737525)

      Bizarrely, you would think it would be in the interests of the Train Operating Companies for the public to have convenient access to this data - but the association that represents them seems more interested in making a quick buck on licensing Android and iPhone apps.

      I'm not so sure. Many of the train companies would - were it not for very generous subsidies - be losing money hand over fist, even when most of their trains are is standing-room only and UK ticket prices are some of the dearest in Europe. Essentially, they can't make an honest profit even when they've got customers coming out of their ears.

      In which case, every other potential source of revenue - even if it's something like this which patently should be made available free - needs to be exploited.

    • Indeed. I suspect it might go something like this: to the train company itself, sale of the scheduling data can only ever be a drop in the bucket of their revenue stream: people using that data are, presumably, actually buying tickets at some point,

      But to the association, who's revenue is a mere fraction of the rail company's, the sale of licenses to the scheduling data looks like a great deal of money, if they restrict access and the rail company makes 1% less because it's less convenient, maybe the assoc

  • Legality (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LSD-OBS (183415) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:10AM (#34109776)

    This may be a basic question, but is it even legal or enforcable for me to assert that my previous emails to you are confidential and undisclosable, despite the fact that you've read them already and never agreed to any terms or conditions while doing so?

    Seriously, the fucking cheek of these bastards. That can't be right. NDAs and confidentiality agreements are, to my mind, an OPT IN process. You can't be forced to abide by terms you never agreed to, surely! Apart from a court gagging order (which sounds more fun that it is, I'm sure).

    -- For those who can't reach the story, I'm talking about the CEO's insistence that the chap in question isn't allowed to publish excerpts from his previous email correspondance with the guy in charge of the timetable data. Despite the fact that the disclaimer says *specifically* that only the intended recipient can read or *disclose* the email contents, which again is another "WE'VE ALWAYS BEEN AT WAR WITH EURASIA" move from these fuckbags.

    • by Xest (935314)

      I used to work in public sector and this sort of disclaimer at the bottom of e-mails was standard practice at the bottom of e-mails from all other public sector departments as well as ours. I always thought at the time it was a bit of a joke, I don't think it's enforceable I think it's designed entirely as a scare tactic in the hope people will believe it, I don't think for a second it's enforcable.

      • by LSD-OBS (183415)

        I know I'm really uninformed on this shit, but what you've said is the impression I get too.

      • Re:Legality (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jdoverholt (1229898) <jonathan@overholt.gmail@com> on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @10:26AM (#34111182) Homepage
        When I was in the (U.S.) military we were instructed not to put blanket disclaimers about privacy/secrecy in our emails to avoid dilution of the meaning and hopefully keep it more enforceable.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Xest (935314)

          That makes sense really, when we had MPs (who are after all, right at the top) managing to reply to a private request from a constituent including the text of the constituents original e-mail that included their name, home address and phone number as well as their concern and somehow including every single person in their address book (thousands of public sector employees) then it doesn't breed much respect for the Disclaimer at the bottom.

          At least if you don't include the disclaimer people don't associate

      • by urulokion (597607)

        It's also interesting when you got multiple boiler plates on e-mails. For example, those going through a very active mailing list. Which disclaimer applies? And to top things off one mailing list (the Mimedefang list) adds this to each outgoing post.

        ______________________________________________
        NOTE: If there is a disclaimer or other legal boilerplate in the above
        message, it is NULL AND VOID. You may ignore it.

        I think I hear the sound of many a lawyer's head going *POP*.

        • by internewt (640704)

          It's also interesting when you got multiple boiler plates on e-mails. For example, those going through a very active mailing list. Which disclaimer applies? And to top things off one mailing list (the Mimedefang list) adds this to each outgoing post.

          ______________________________________________

          NOTE: If there is a disclaimer or other legal boilerplate in the above

          message, it is NULL AND VOID. You may ignore it.

          I think I hear the sound of many a lawyer's head going *POP*.

          No, the noise is a lawyer's flies going *POP*, as their cock near-explosively engorges at the prospect of how much business they can do bickering over which bullshit boiler plate applies, and if the final one trumps the lot or not.

    • by N1AK (864906)

      This may be a basic question, but is it even legal or enforcable for me to assert that my previous emails to you are confidential and undisclosable, despite the fact that you've read them already and never agreed to any terms or conditions while doing so?

      I am not aware of a case where a retrospective claim of confidentiality has been successful in court in the UK. By my understanding on UK contract law (limited admittedly) even the disclaimers at the bottom of emails saying you can't distribute them are unenforceable. Just because I have received your email it does not mean I agree with the terms. It might be possible to have someone agree by responding (effectively the email would state that they will not communicate further without your acceptance of the

      • It's a modern, and legally unenforceable, version of the king's shilling in the bottom of a tankard. I've worked for some pretty large multinationals, and have never been officially told to use such disclaimers (and not seen legal professionals using them). The main source of them appear to be naifs who've stumbled upon these fancy looking disclaimers and then sent a mail to the rest of the team suggesting that they use them. Probably the same people who'll also wondering why it's a bad idea to store custom

    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      Since there's no contract for them to enforce, the only grounds they have are their basic copyrights. Unfortunately, the CDPA 1988 as [amended] is rather in favour of the author in this case.

      30 Criticism, review and news reporting.
      (1)Fair dealing with a work for the purpose of criticism or review, of that or another work or of a performance of a work, does not infringe any copyright in the work provided that it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement [ and provided that the work has been made avai

    • I think, sadly, the important question in terms of practical consequence is not whether these boilerplate legal blurbs are legal or enforceable. The important question is does this guy, if he decided to ignore them, have a chance in hell of fighting against a legal onslaught from a company as large as ATOC? I think the answer is likely to be no, which enables the CEO to do it with a reasonable chance of success despite the legality.

  • Mirror of text (Score:4, Informative)

    by neil_rickards (563887) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:18AM (#34109808)

    TFA appears a bit sluggish (possible Slashdot effect?) so here's the text...

    National Rail Have Killed My UK Train Times App
    Posted on October 29, 2010 by alexmock

    About a year ago I wrote a simple web application to present UK train times in a simple format for mobile phone users.

    It’s best described by the instructions. The app was deliberately spartan, really just a list of upcoming trains between a collection of stations you specified in the URL. Data came from a free API which National Rail (a body representing the UK’s train companies) has run for years. Output was presented in the cleanest way possible – people on the move don’t want to be encumbered with advertising or excessive page furniture!

    One neat feature was multiple start/end points. Say you live halfway between two stations (I do) and don’t care which station you travel from. The app would look up departures from both, combine and reorder them then produce a unified table of all services you could catch. When I wrote the app none of the official train timetable sites could do this and I don’t believe any can now.

    Useful, huh? And all for free. I only wrote it to scratch an itch, so that rather than wading through the cluttered National Rail site I could click a bookmark on my phone and immediately know when the next train into town was. To reiterate – I built this because it was convenient and would be useful to others. Not to make a profit.

    and today National Rail killed it.

    So who runs this SOAP service?

    The API is supplied within a website operated by National Rail – a brand of ATOC, the grandly titled “Association of Train Operating Companies”. Their name is confusingly similar to “Network Rail”, a publicly owned organisation which owns and maintains all the infrastructure. Network Rail own the track, members of National Rail / ATOC run trains on it for a profit. Confused? Good, you’re probably supposed to be.

    The Live Departure Board API has existed for a few years and I’m not the only person using it. Some kind soul even wrote a CPAN module. The API is well-documented, publicly accessible and presented as something freely usable by the public. A lot of people were doing neat things with it.

    It was even listed on the London Datastore site – a state-run list of open data feeds which developers are encouraged to use to provide data to web users in new and innovative ways. There was a lot of buzz around open data like this around the time of the last election.

    Edit: the page on London Datastore has now been locked. “Access Denied”. Possibly because a lot of discussion appeared on there which was critical of ATOC’s decision to extract money from users of the service. Here’s the page from before ATOC’s bombshell in Google’s cache and in case that evaporates too here’s a pdf.

    After writing the web app last year I had the idea of doing an Android widget to show departure times from the user’s nearest station. It would locate a user from the phone’s GPS, look up their nearest rail station then query the LDB web service to get a list of the next handful of trains they might catch. It even got as far as a Spec for Train Time Autofinder2 – complete with mockups of the widget and definitions of its functionality. Since I’m no Android programmer it’d necessitate paying a developer and I hoped to recoup that cost by selling the app for a nominal fee. I wrote to ATOC asking whether this would be okay. A month later when they hadn’t replied I wrote again, this time by registered post. Their eventual response:

    “I can confirm the National Rail Enquiries Website is for personal and non-commercial use only. Therefore, the suggestion made in your letter, to utilise the data to build an Android application is expressly prohibited. I’m sorry that we cannot be of any further assistance

  • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @10:12AM (#34110926)
    I suspect some bean counter realized that as 3rd-party sites like these proliferate, traffic will be driven away from the "official" National Rail site. As a result, the railways will have fewer eyeballs to which to present packages, specials and other similar up-sells which are key to their revenue stream. I realize /. is dramatically anti-ad, but you need to realize the click-through on deals like these from Joe Average is likely fairly good.... So National Rail doesn't want to lose those eyeballs, even if it's to a site that's 100% non-commercial. The stupid part is nobody thought of this before creating the webservice.
    • Yeah, those kinds of upsells, as advertising relevant to something else you're about to buy, actually kinda make sense, even if a particular addon isn't always a good fit.

  • If only the "running a pleasant and reliable rail service" department was half as on the ball as the legal department...

    I pay them twice over. Once for the exorbitant fairs when I use the system, and once via my taxes due to government subsidies. Instead of using that money to at least try run a decent service they use it on a legal department to chase down things like this.

If a subordinate asks you a pertinent question, look at him as if he had lost his senses. When he looks down, paraphrase the question back at him.

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