Visualizing our queries

On top of the iRail API, many requests happen. Even if we give concrete numbers, it remains difficult to understand how many requests we actually get. Serkan Yildiz, one of the open Summer of code students, created the open iRail map, that visualizes requests in real time. Check it out:

Screenshot from 2016-07-19 14-37-15

19. July 2016 by Pieter Colpaert
Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Always have a seat in the train

With our API’s query logs, with a ground truth by train specialists in Belgium, and with user feedback, we can show you how busy your train is. The only thing lacking to realizing this feature that the Dutch already have for years, is your support! Go to and get a seat on your next journey.

21. April 2016 by Pieter Colpaert
Categories: iRail, NMBS, open data | Leave a comment

The start of a new era

Time flies! But we have great news:

We can now officially close the era where iRail has been an advocacy group for Open Transport Data, and instead become something we have always wanted to become: a Living Lab (and/or hackerspace) to work towards a  better transport experience for travelers in Belgium. The next steps are going to entail a better collaboration with players like TreinTramBus, iMinds, the European Passenger Federation and everyone who has can help us reach our goal. A first thing is going to be announced next Monday, the 18th of April! We are quite psyched about this.

TreinTramBus and iRail have already been working together in the past, analyzing the query logs we have published in collaboration with iMinds’ Data Science Lab (my current employer). The research that has been carried out was presented at the WWW2016 conference in Canada, during the USEWOD workshop. The full paper can be downloaded here.

14. April 2016 by Pieter Colpaert
Categories: NMBS, open data | Leave a comment

January updates

We are only two weeks in 2016 and it seems like NMBS/SNCB is keeping its promise as a presentation announced they now have an internal innovation project on Open Data. But more interestingly for us, the presentation, geving yesterday at the Digital Agenda Belgium event, announced they were wrong in 2010 sending Yeri a cease and desist letter. While people on twitter responded moderately (“How long is this going to take?”, “How about real-time data?”) we believe this is a huge step forward: it is the first time the NMBS/SNCB acknowledges we were on the right side of history. What iRail is concerned: we would love to start collaborating on a clean slate 🙂


It doesn’t stop there, today, we are featured in De Standaard with a piece on how NMBS should make use of their data in a better way:

Train offer vs. Travel Intentions on average on a Thursday and on December 24th

Train offer vs. Travel Intentions on average on a Thursday and on December 24th

Indeed: the query log files of iRail can be used as an indication of travel intention. You can now also reuse the log files yourself:

13. January 2016 by Pieter Colpaert
Categories: NMBS, open data | Leave a comment


This is a guest blog post by Pepijn Mores, a student at HELMo Saint-Marie. In this blog post he shows how easy it is to create an app to fulfill his own transportation needs, which we thought is very interesting: it is not always the big companies that use the data from the SNCB. Would you like to write a blog post here yourself? Contact us!

For the final project of my C# course at HELMo Saint-Marie, I had the opportunity to choose my very own topic. Only two requirements needed to be met: it had to be developed in C# (obviously) and it had to involve a technology we didn’t study in class. The amount of possibilities was enormous , therefore I decided to search for a subject that would actually be helpful to me in some way. Because I return home every weekend and the train takes about 1,5h, I came up with the idea to make an application for my PC that would look up the train tables and check if I had enough time for a sandwich at Panos at one of the changes. It was the perfect solution for me to look up the trains when I was attending my last course on Friday afternoon, so that I could plan my trip home whilst sitting in class. So that’s where the API of iRail came in.

traintracker1 Continue Reading →

04. January 2016 by Pieter Colpaert
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