I needed to book a train to London the other day, and after checking times on the National Rail site, I was just about to go on the Virgin Trains site to book – as has been my usual port of call – but for some reason I ended up on the Trainline site instead. It was my first time using the site since their most recent update and I’ve got to admit, I was very surprised… I couldn’t quite put my finger on quite why until much later when I remembered that I used to actively avoid Trainline – their process was so clunky and on top of that they charged a booking fee!
This time around, it was completely the opposite from clunky. Not only was the booking process seamless, but I got the chance to use an e-ticket too! I was very excited, if a little sceptical as to how this e-ticket would work, but I downloaded the app, signed in and was ready to go.
On the day of travel, at an ungodly hour in the morning, I parked up near the station and on my leisurely walk up, I activated my outbound ticket. Then because I had a few minutes’ spare, which I’d usually have used to pick up my ticket, I popped in for a coffee. As I was waiting for my order, I got a notification from Trainline telling me what platform I should go to and that my train was on time. Fantastic! No more anxious squinting at the departures board. Then it was time for the moment of truth – would my e-ticket work or would it be an awkward exchange with the security staff about how I had actually paid for my ticket?
It worked. With a quick scan of my phone’s barcode, I was through. Seamless! And the return journey was pretty much the same, so it can’t have been a fluke.
Upon launching their new look, Trainline described themselves as “mobile at heart…” and from my experience, I can definitely see that they’ve taken time to really weave that into every element of their user experience.
In a wider view, the seamless flow from one platform to another, as well as little brand amplifiers that make my life easier suggests to me that they’ve really considered their broader customer experience too. On top of the timely notifications, live information and easy journey planning, you can now easily email yourself a receipt and save yourself ages looking for it later when you’re doing your expenses. I can’t wait to see what other little features they think of in the future!
Suffice it to say, they’ve won me over and the booking fee is no longer an issue – they’ve definitely become my first choice mobile app.