Guest Post: comparing the NMBS/SNCB, Railer and OnTracks iPhone apps

Since the disappearance of Railtime, the official NMBS/SNCB app was the only provider of travel information for the Belgian railways I was aware of. A few months ago, I got to know Railer, an initiative of the open data working group iRail. It has been my primary travel app for Belgian trains ever since. Last week, I discovered another app called OnTracks (by Maxime Pagnoulle) that also provides travel information for the Belgian railways. Given my interest in the way we present information to travelers, I decided to do a little side-by-side comparison of these three apps, to see where their strengths and weaknesses lie.

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18 August 2015 by
Categories: apps, NMBS | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

August updates

Hi all,

It’s been since April that we haven’t done another community update. Back then, we announced our migration to new servers, we’ve announced that we would have 2 students at open Summer of code 2015 and that we would start building a GTFS ourselves, as the law would now permit us to do so. NMBS/SNCB will open up their data by the end of this year… but why wait if their data is already on their website?

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11 August 2015 by
Categories: News & events, open data, Summer of code | Leave a comment

Call for help: laravel, angularjs and nodejs devs needed

Too long didn’t read; we need your help developing stuff. We’re organising a day in September in Ghent to tell you all about it. Grab your ticket on Eventbrite!

What we need?

1. We want to improve our API and hyperRail webapp. There are a lot of issues open that urgently needs to be fixed. Want to help? Leave a note on our issue tracker for the issue you’d like to fix. (PHP – Laravel – AngularJS)

2. We have created a data dump for the Belgian railway company in GTFS. This has been requested by a lot of people. Yet… We still miss the geolocations of the platforms within a station, and we need a way to find the shapes of the tracks. If this is your thing, please let us know through this issue tracker! (data wrangling)

3. Discuss the next steps of – source code: (nodejs)

If you’re interested in reusing the data, such as the API, the GTFS files or the GTFS-RT, we’ll be glad to give you a tutorial that day.

We’ll explain everything, in person

Day: Friday 4th September

Time: between 10h-19h, whatever suits you.

Grab your ticket here

Where will we do it?

Start-up Garage

Zuiderpoort Office Park
Gaston Crommenlaan 8
9050 Gent

10 August 2015 by
Categories: iRail, News & events | Tags: , , | 1 comment

Students open timetables of Belgian railway company

Two students have opened the timetables of the NMBS, the Belgian railway company, as open data. App-developers can use this data to build innovative and user-friendly apps, like smartwatch-applications or even an integration in the routeplanner of Google Maps.

You can access the data at

Three weeks have the two thought of a solution, during the project ‘open Summer of code’, where students work on a digital innovation, to open the timetables of the NMBS. By using a format, GTFS, is it possible to combine timetables of different transport companies. This way, country boundaries are not longer a problem.

This is a first step towards the ambitious open data-strategy of the federal government, that has been approved last Friday. This strategy forces government companies to publish their data free and accessible for re-use.

The data is now implemented in these intermodal services or apps: CityMapper, Ally,, and more are coming!


Twee studenten hebben de dienstregeling van de NMBS als open data ter beschikking gesteld. App-ontwikkelaars kunnen deze gegevens gebruiken om innovatieve en gebruiksvriendelijke toepassingen te bouwen, zoals smartwatch-applicaties of zelfs een integratie in de routeplanner van Google Maps.

Je kan de data bereiken op

De voorbije drie weken bedachten de twee tijdens het project ‘open Summer of code 2015’, waar studenten aan een digitale uitdaging werken, een manier om de uurregelingen van de NMBS open te stellen. Door een erkende standaard te volgen, GTFS genaamd, is het mogelijk om dienstregelingen van verschillende transportbedrijven te combineren. Zo kunnen app-ontwikkelaars applicaties bouwen over landsgrenzen heen.

Hiermee is de eerste stap gezet in de ambitieuze open data-strategie van de federale overheid, die vorige week vrijdag is goedgekeurd. Deze strategie verplicht overheidsbedrijven om hun publieke gegevens gratis open te stellen voor hergebruik.

De data werden nu al opgenomen door verschillende apps en diensten zoals: CityMapper, Ally,, en meer apps/services zijn in de maak!

2/3d of the iRail team at open summer of code 2015's final event

2/3d of the iRail team at open summer of code 2015’s final event


logo #oSoc15

29 July 2015 by
Categories: iRail, NMBS, open data, Summer of code | Leave a comment

We’ve got 2 students at open Summer of code 2015

In the April update we’ve shouted out for people who wanted to help funding students to work on iRail datasets during open Summer of code 2015. And guess what? We’ve had a response!

Thanks to #iSoc12 alumna Miet Claes and mentor Xavier Bertels from the company Mono, we will be able to hire Brecht Van de Vyvere to work on a way to create the best GTFS export of the Belgian railway company for 2015-2016 so far. The funding is now closed, yet we still accept contributions in the form of pull requests and issues!


11 June 2015 by
Categories: Summer of code | Leave a comment

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