iRail updates

We’ve been busy.

First of all, big thanks for all the code and help from Pieter Colpaert.


And again, Git repo located here. Feel free to participate. 🙂

You can very easily fork my Git repository, all working improvements will be merged to the main stream.

iRail is back

After careful consideration with my lawyer Ywein Van den Brande, I have decided to put iRail back online.

The copy of the letter to the NMBS/SNCB can be viewed here.

Minor modifications have been made to make it work correctly again with the new route planner of the NMBS/SNCB (changelog); and I’ll keep working on it to optimise it (next on the todo list is a better results page). Also, feedback is always welcome… But mail me; not the NMBS/SNCB. 😉

Also, dear NMBS/SNCB, please provide us with an API. Clearly, I’m not the only one interested in open data and APIs. This would make small projects like this quite a bit easier and would greatly increase the end quality. Data scraping just doesn’t fit web2.0.

I’d like to gratefully thank everyone for the amazing support, and special thanks go to Ywein Van den Brande, Sébastien Boelpaep and Vincent Van Quickenborne.

Have a nice day,

Yeri Tiete

Edit: Due to a bug in the querying, not all station information is displayed correctly and an error page is shown. Working to get it solved.


While trying to find an API or “mobile” (read: iPhone) access for the NMBS website, I came upon some cool stuff.

The time table and train managing software seems made in Germany. The NMBS “look up” site gives you the software and version it is using (“Software versie/dataversie: HAFAS 5.21.B-RAIL.4.7f/5.21.B-RAIL.4.7k – 14/09/08“).

Googling for Hafas returns some cool websites.

Using this one, you can download a pdf with all train (including hours) info between two stations. Not quite the same as an API-key, but at least you have something you can save and use lateron.

This seems to be giving all stops a train will have (or all trains) between two stations. Though the “stoptrains” aren’t in the list, and the IR-train does stop at Mechelen-Nekkerspoel too, which isn’t on the list either. This PDF seems more accurate, and seems to be including all trains.

But still, the DB seem to be ahead of us (well, what country isn’t?). Here is one of the functionalities of HAFAS, which I haven’t seen on the NMBS site yet. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this seems something different. And… Windows-fucking-mobile-only.

Pretty much same problem with Thalys. They even made, yet, when accessing it with the iPhone (as I lack other PDA-ish devices to test it at the moment) it doesn’t scale/resize/fit my screen, and is displaying the same window I have when browsing it with Firefox.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we had some open (xml?) API, where we could submit departure station, arrival station, and some time, and get a reply with one or multiple results?

I guess I would’ve hoped for more in these “mobile” days.

Edit: my attempt to make something.