A resource for cyclists has been added to the existing National Rail Enquiries app, supported by funding from the RISE (Rail Innovation Support Engine) scheme.
RISE offers investment funding for ideas for improving the railway, with funding fund for practical demonstrator projects with concepts which are proven on paper.
The Enabling Innovation Team (EIT) addresses rail industry challenges by supporting demonstration projects, and the National Rail Enquiries app, with added cycle travel information, is, according to EIT, an example of how innovators have partnered with RISE to bring an idea to market.
The number of people cycling to and from railway stations has more than doubled in four years
The need for improved information for cyclists combining train and cycle travel has been recognised because since 2009, as the number of people cycling to and from railway stations has more than doubled to over 53,000 say EIT.
In response to this increase, the industry has recognised that cyclists need to have easily accessible, clear and relevant information relating to their journey. As individual operators have differing restrictions, rules can change by time of day and stations have varying facilities for cyclists. Those undertaking a cycle-rail journey told EIT that they sometimes find it hard to access the information to plan their journeys.
The Association of Train Operating Companies' Integrated Transport team has partnered with National Rail Enquiries (NRE), to make journey planning with bike and train easier. Launched by Phillip Darnton, Executive Director of the Bicycle Association, at the ATOC Integrated Transport Conference yesterday, this new app functionality grew out of an idea submitted to the RISE team.
A joint project by the Cycle Rail Working Group, the app received funding from the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), EIT, the Department for Transport and the Bicycle Association and has been developed and tested in partnership with cycle groups including CTC and Sustrans.
The NRE app is available free on iPhone App Store and Android Play store.
The app offers information on cycling facilities at stations, and 'travelling with bicycle' advice for each journey.
Usefulness depends on accuracy and train operator websites and booking policies
Accuracy of the data will determine the usefulness of the app, and a first look for Chichester station, my nearest, incorrect states there is no bicycle parking.
Also, a review on the cycling website road.cc found that when booking a ticket that variability in bicycles on trains policies inevitably leads to variable results.
"To book a ticket you’re taken through to the train operator’s website, at which point things gets a bit clunky, as you’re then peering through a tiny screen at a site designed for a desktop web browser."
"Whether you'll then be able to book a bike space then depends on the individual operator; some provide this facility through their websites, some don't."
Rail Industry Innovation Fund - how to apply
The DfT has made available initial pilot funding of about £16m and the High Level Output Specification (stating what the Secretary of State wants to be achieved by railway activities during railway Control Period 5 to March 2019, published in July 2012) identified further funding for innovation in CP5.
EIT are seeking initial information on projects that have reached a stage, or are likely to reach a stage within about eighteen months, where they could usefully call upon such funding. The fund aims, primarily, to assist projects in moving through the Technology Readiness Levels 4-7.
The broad expectation is that the fund could support projects to move from successful analytical or experimental proof of concept through to implementation of a technology system prototype in an operational railway environment.
EIT have requested that project leaders that could benefit from access to such funding should complete an application form which should be returned to email@example.com.