Category Archives: News & events

NMBS/SNCB announces data sharing

Today, the Belgian railway company announces a data sharing program for third party developers. They will start sharing the planned schedules (“static data”). We are cautiously excited that this is the first step towards a real open data policy.

You can request your own 1-on-1 contract via We hope to make our own version, linked to our identifiers, available through soon!

[More updates later today]

What does this mean for the end-users?

Companies like Google, Nokia, Microsoft and others can now start reusing the data if they negotiate a one on one contract. Starting today, you will see route planners from third parties work with NMBS/SNCB! Android and Google Maps users will be very excited as they now will also see trains suggested to their destination instead of only buses when selecting public transit.

Why isn’t this open data yet?

Open Data means that there’s no discrimination in who can reuse that data and that there’s no restrictions in in what way it can be used and redistributed. For now, you can access the data after signing a 1 on 1 contract. We think it’s a good thing NMBS/SNCB is testing the water before the law that will oblige NMBS/SNCB to do real open data comes into action in 2016. We look forward working together and iRail is as well in the process of requesting a license. We however want to be able to republish the data once we added our data to the dataset, which now isn’t allowed by default.

Why is iRail (cautiously) happy?

We once were forced to stop building applications using the data of NMBS. The original posts from 2010 can still be found in our archives. Today, the first steps towards Open Data have been taken and we are sure they will not regret it. We will slowly migrate our servers to make use of this official dataset. We look forward to seeing you build awesome new things with this high quality data!

Contact Pieter: +32 486 74 71 22

– The iRail Team

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?

Launch of GTFS and GTFS-RT for the SNCB

Check out! It now contains data from NMBS/SNCB for 2015, including our first realtime feed for the Belgian railway company (huge news for techies)! This feed contains the updates such as train delays and notifications on the entire network. You can discover what’s in this GTFS-RT by checking out our new dashboard

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

The project has been developed during open Summer of code 2015 by Brecht Van de Vyvere and Tim Tijssens. A report on their 3 week journey can be read over here:

Nice GTFS bla bla… but what does it mean for me?

If you are not technical, you might be delighted with this news: you can now do intermodal route planning across entire Belgium with apps such as CityMapper and Ally.

Furthermore, also webservice creators such as the guys from implemented our feeds in their webservice! As a developer, you can now use their API to get route planning advice from A to B across Europe.

New apps on top of our API


I know, this one was also announced in the April updates, but hey… they now added support for the Apple Watch!

apple watch with NMBS/SNCB info


A new Android app hit the market. Let us know what you think!

Our servers

Moving away from apache, now installing nginx and varnish for cachability. We used to have varnish installed over apache a while back. Then we’ve decided to put HTTPS on all our domains. Now, we’re going to make our servers faster again by installing varnish. This will be done by the lovely people of skyscrapers (who gladly gave me a spot to work when I was in Antwerp last week 
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Accepted for a session at the Open Belgium conference

We’re accepted for a 90 minute session on Open Transport and iRail at the Open Belgium 2015 conference in Namur!

The conference is in 2.5 months, so we still got some time to set everything up, yet I would like to get some direction: what would you like to discuss? Who do you want me to invite? You can send suggestions to me by e-mail ( or reply on twitter to the tweet announcing this post.



Open Belgium is a yearly conference first organised in 2014. It’s a come together of Open Knowledge experts and enthusiasts throughout the country to discuss the state of play. In 2015, Open Knowledge Belgium is organising this conference in Namur on the 23d of February. You can secure tickets through the website (mind that contributors to a session can get access to the conference for free).

Submit your app written on top of the iRail API

The iRail APIs have been around for almost 4 years now. Did you build something from our APIs? We would love to know! Fill it out on our public google drive spreadsheet. You can find the current results over here:

We are looking for new ways to finance the maintenance and further development of a national API for mobility in Belgium. Therefore, we first need some numbers to show that our API does make an impact. Next, we will inform you about further development as we will start streamlining the interfaces into one URI space.

Looking forward to your responses!


iRail hack day invitation

We have a pile of awesome development and markcom work still up for the grabs. In order to celebrate that this work is still up for anyone to do, we’re going to organise the first iRail hack day of 2014!

Register here!

What’s the schedule and who do we need?

The 5th of September at 10am we’re assembling in Ghent (exact location to be announced). We will divide in 3 teams:

1. The hyperRail developers team:

This is a small team who is fixing issues of the hyperRail repository, the engine behind

This team already consists of: Nico Verbruggen, Sam Hendrickx, Brecht Van de Vyvere and myself. There’s still room for more though!

2. The strategic team:

iRail is more than just an app. We’re a community of people that wants to make getting around in Belgium easier by wrangling data. How do we proceed though? What communication channels should we deprecate? Which should we keep? Are you writing our next blog posts, tweets or facebook messages?

3. The app developers and API reusers:

Are you already creating an app on top of the iRail API? Great! Come along and talk with the developers about new features (did you know you will be able gather check-ins in trains from your users with the iRail API?).

Are you someone who is planning to create an app? We’re willing to give you crash courses for your specific platform. Come along!

What do we still need?

– A location for ~10 to 20 people. Can you provide us that? Great! You’re our main sponsor!
– Food and drinks!
– You! (if you fit in one of the 3 groups)

Register here!

So, this first hack day focuses on and its API with a limited amount of people in order to keep productivity. The next hack day will be about adding more datasets such as De Lijn, MIVB/STIB and TEC.

The Hub

Hi all,

It’s official! Thanks to our friends of Mobile Vikings (the mobile operator with the best customer service in Belgium) and Massive Media, we now have a (co-)working space in the heart of Ghent.

We are not always there, but feel free to send an e-mail when you would like to visit people who are working on an iRail project (The DataTank,, the API, Ghendetta, FlatTurtle, We Open Data, etc), feel free to ping us on twitter/via mail/via phone and so on.

Open Knowledge Foundation Belgium

If you need another reason to open another bottle of champagne: as of the 21st of September, OKFN Belgium has upgraded from a local group to an official OKFN chapter. Since the foundation of the legal structure in February this year, OKFN Belgium didn’t only had some community events (a general meeting and some Apps For X events) and a lot of board meetings, but they have also started 4 working groups.

Our community, iRail, is leading the official Open Transport working group in Belgium and open transport data is one of the main priorities of the Open Knowledge foundation Belgium. It’s needless to say that iRail and OKFN Belgium will be working together tightly in the future.

This means iRail is also getting involved in international projects, together with Open Train Times, OpenOV, opentransilien, the international open transport group, forum virium, trafiklab,  and many others. One of the first things on our list is creating an Open Transport Data Handbook. The Handbook will summarize the experiences from existing companies in opening their data and provide answers to frequently asked questions. If you think you’re perfect for helping out on this, send me a note!

In the mean time we have been working together with OKFN already, for instance to organize Apps For Flanders. There are more Apps For X events coming up and the chance that we will play our part is big.