For some time National Rail Enquiries have been running a web service which developers could query for live train times from their chosen station. While the service was freely accessible and publicly documented NRE say a license has always been required but the requirement not enforced. Several people were using this service for mashups based on UK train time data, often supplied free to users and certainly of use to the public.
On 2010-09-26 the following text was added to the service's documentation page:
"With effect from Tuesday the 23rd of November, National Rail Enquiries will be introducing tokens in to SOAP header of the Darwin Webservice for licenced users of the system. For more information on licencing and obtaining a token, please contact email@example.com"It therefore seems that users of the service who have not been granted a license key will be locked out of it. These keys may or may not be free of charge but I was told a licensing fee for my free app was "likely". Keys are granted "on a case-by-case basis". A separate license application must be submitted for every object you wish to build.
NRE must adhere to a code of practice when considering applications. From the code of practice:
"In the event that an application is refused NRE will provide the applicant with a written explanation and full details of the reasons for the refusal."If NRE do refuse your license application be sure to get their reasons in writing.
I've setup this page for us developers and the press to keep track of applications. If you've applied to NRE for a license to use the Live Departure Boards service for your app - either free or commercial - and you'd like that fact and the results be a matter of public record email me and I'll add you to the table.
|Application Date||Who||Existing app?||Usage||Granted?||Notes|
|2009-10-11||Alex Hewson||no||commercial android app||refused||No response to initial request; tried again a month later with recorded delivery letter and was told absolutely no commercial access permitted to API. As of 2010-10 National Rail Enquiries say this refusal was in error.|
|2010-10-28||Alex Hewson||yes||free web app||refused||Several emails and an admonishment from NRE's Chief Executive for quoting the contents of one. As of 2010-11-04 no license yet offered or information requested on the app. Update: refused on 2010-11-30 because of critical comments made about NRE. Appealing this.|
|2010-10-xx||Ben Barker||yes||free web app||yes|
|2010-11-23||Miles Rochford||no||Private personal app, web or iPhone||unworkabe offer||Contacted NRE after discovering that a licence would be required. Proposed use identical to original Alex Mock app (multiple station departure boards in single view). Limited to personal use (one person). NRE indicated that they were unlikely to reach a suitable agreement based on cost of licence (no discount for non-profit/private use). Suggested using other applications (despite proposed use being unsupported by any current app).|
|2010-11-04||Alex Hunsley||no||free iphone app||-|
|Cut-off point: apps not licensed after Nov 23 lose access|
|2010-11-29||Joe Bourne||no||free web app optimized for phones||unworkable offer 2010-12-07||NRE offered Joe a license for £1,000 per year. Given his proposed application was free this renders it impossible.|
|2010-xx-xx||Patrick Read||no||free android app||unworkable offer 2010-12-15||NRE offered Patrick an expensive license which was unworkable for his low traffic, practice Android app.|
|2010-12-26||Andy Botting||no||free android app||refused 2011-01-05||Andy specified in his license application that since his app was to be given away free he can't afford a paid license. NRE told him that as a "private company" it is not in a position to supply services for free.|
|2011-01-12||Adam Trickett||yes||command line app||unworkable offer autumn 2010||Adam contacted NRE after they instructed users of the data to apply for licenses in October 2010. They offered a license for £1,000. Despite having run his application for 6 months previously Adam was forced to discontinue it.|
All information here has been supplied by third parties. I believe it to be correct but accept no liability.
Last updated 2011-01-26