Planning a journey on the UK’s embarrassingly inefficient rail network can be problematic. It’s simple enough – at least in planning terms – if you only want to travel within one franchise’s area, but as soon as you take a longer journey and have to switch networks, the problems really start. None of the main operators seems too keen on giving out information about the others’ timetables, so you’re often left to work things out for yourself, phoning around the various companies to try to arrange a convenient route.
All of which makes the rail network an idea subject for a route-planning package, and that’s effectively what RailPlanner is. It lets you type in your preferred start and end station names, along with any places that you need to stop at along the way. You can select your preferred travel time, too, then hit the big green ‘Go’ button and let the software do its stuff.
What you’ll then be shown is a selection of different options that may include train, bus, Underground and perhaps a short walk, all designed to get you to your destination in the shortest possible time. Generally this seems to work pretty well; trying a few of the routes we knew produced optimal results combining several different transport methods.
Additional features accessible within the program include a route map of the UK’s rail network, a London Underground map, a map of the UK showing the rough route taken by your chosen trains and the option of deciding which company’s services are included in the search routine.
However, we’d have liked to see better integration of the London Underground (whose stations are largely ignored as potential travel points) and other cities’ public transport systems, to make this more of an integrated whole.
The software is available for Windows and for Pocket PC. There are various versions available – bronze, silver and gold – which relate to the number of timetable updates you’ll receive, starting with one or two for the year if you opt for the bronze package. Multi-user site licences are available too.
Company: Travel InfoSystems
Contact: 020 7428 1288