W4 - The quest for open rail data

A session at OpenTech 2011

Saturday 21st May, 2011

2:30pm to 3:30pm (GMT)

--- Jonathan Raper - placr.co.uk ---

The rail industry in Britain receives over £5 billion of public funding but releases no open data to allow publication of novel real time information products or to allow independent scrutiny of performance. This is due to the fact that Network Rail, the private sector infrastructure owner operating under public regulation and guarantee, has exclusively sub-licensed all passenger information publication to the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), another private body.

ATOC therefore currently have a monopoly on the provision of train departure information, and they operate under a licence from the Office of Rail Regulation that allows them to make value judgments about who should have access to the data. Consequently ATOC have denied access to their National Rail Enquiries API to several developers whose plans for the use of the data did not meet with their approval.

This talk will explain how this situation has arisen, and what campaigners and developers can do to change it. Firstly, the Office for Rail Regulation has a consultation open about how passenger information should be provided by Network Rail and the train operating companies (TOCs), and this needs to hear the views of those looking for open data releases. Secondly, Network Rail have an internal rail industry train departure portal called TD.net and this could be used to make information available without changing the work that ATOC do with National Rail Enquiries.

Network Rail need to be encouraged to make it freely available as part of a developer programme. Successfully releasing train departures as open data would allow a massive expansion of open transport data across the country, which would be likely to unleash a wave of innovation.

More on all these topics on the placr blog: http://placr.co.uk/blog/2011/05/...

--- Peter Hicks ---
Peter followed up on the politics with a dive into some of the technicalities of file formats such as CIF used by the UK rail industry.

About the speaker

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Jonathan Raper

CEO. Campaigner. Consultant. Geek. Bad skier. Dad. bio from Twitter

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Time 2:30pm3:30pm GMT

Date Sat 21st May 2011

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