Licensed National Rail apps comparison

Britain's railway network is a love and hate relationship with us Brits, right? When it's working as it should and trains are on time it's arguably one of the most reliable railways in the world, but when there's a fault somewhere it turns into the worst within seconds. To help keep on top of timetable changes, delays and cancellations we've been using smartphones to aid us in our travels.

Windows Phone 7 has now two officially licensed apps in the Marketplace, which both share the same base functionality and high price (£4.99 – to be expected with licensing). The big question is what separates Rail Planner and Train Travel? Let's run through the nooks and crannies of both apps and see what functionality is missing in one that the other features and which is best worth the high price tag (please be aware that this article is intended for folk living in the UK, should you download these apps you may be disappointed if you abroad).

Head on past the break for the full two app comparison review (you can skip to the video at the end for a quick walk-through).

There are more familiarities between the apps than differences but when both of them are priced at £4.99, one has to go into more detail with what's different to come to a conclusion with which app is worth the cost. Both of the rail apps feature live timetables, GPS aided nearby station location, favorites support and journey planning. 

Not only is the basic functionality present, but both apps are stable, fast and pull down the same information from National Rail. So what will enable us make a decision as to which is better? It comes down to three features that Train Travel features and Rail Planner lacks. Namely Live Tile support, journey saving/favorites and select stations via Bing Maps.

While Rail Planner does allow users to save favorites and it appears that recent journey plans are saved and displayed for easy access, Train Travel takes a more user-friendly approach. You save that journey plan and it's there next time (and the time after that etc). There's also no option to remove the background image in Rail Planner.

They may be little things that might not be a huge deal breaker for majority of users. For example, should you commute between two stations regularly then either app will prove invaluable, but for that added extra spark, Train Travel is the app for you. Check out the video below for a quick visual run through.

(I say in the video that Train Travel has favorites which is a major difference, I mean "Journey Favorites")

There you have it folks! I'd certainly recommend Train Travel as the best app for the buck with more features, which is perfect in a recession and for an app that costs an arm and a leg to purchase. It's still entirely up to you which one is best for you, but Train Travel provides slightly more customization. You can download Train Travel (Zune link) and Rail Planner (Zune link) from the Marketplace.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.