Uktrains twitter app getting up steam

February 9, 2009 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

A few weeks back, Ben Smith (@bensmithuk) released the first few parts of a Twitter feed for UK train service information. His application takes disruption and other service information feeds from the BBC, processes them through Yahoo! Pipes, and feeds a set of train company-specific Twitter feeds with the result.  An interested user simply has to follow the feed for the train company they’re interested in.

As with all these things, it ain’t rocket science. But it *is* a great idea, well implemented. And it’s something that NRES (National Rail Enquiry Service) or some other rail industry body really should be doing themselves. As Ben explains on the Uktrains wiki, he can’t even source the information directly from NRES because of their copyright restrictions – instead, he uses the BBC Backstage license to get the same information second-hand from the BBC instead. Madness.

However – Ben’s latest feature is something that NRES would never do themselves. The service is now 2-way. Passengers experiencing delays can send a tweet to Ben’s application, which will re-tweet an alert to all users following the relevant train company feed.

Again, this seems like a simple enhancement. But my bet is that it will catch on like wildfire, and deliver a near realtime train running information service directly from affected passengers to others. You can read about the service on the wiki, and try it out yourself.

That’s what the internet’s for.


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