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thetrainline.com is an online seller of train tickets for British train services. It sells tickets through its website, by telephone, and through its mobile app which is available on iOS, Windows Phone and Android platforms.
It was created in 1997 and online ticket sales began in 1999. thetrainline.com ltd was formerly part of the Virgin Group and is now owned by private equity investors and management. The business has expanded significantly in the last eight years, acquiring its main online competitor Qjump from National Express Group in February 2004.
In addition to the online service provided direct to customers operated under its own brands thetrainline.com and Qjump, it provides the website services for 14 of the 20 UK train operating companies operating under their own brands, as well as providing a rail business travel service direct to a number of large blue chip corporations, travel management companies and travel agents. Trainline also provides a call centre service to a number of the customers referred to above.
In July 2006, Exponent Private Equity acquired thetrainline, for £168 million. thetrainline was bought from a consortium of shareholders that included the Virgin, Stagecoach and National Express transport groups.
In 2008, thetrainline started supplying Newbury Data ND4020 rail ticket printers and self-service kiosks to its corporate and travel management clients. Customers are now able to collect a ticket from over 1000 railway stations.
thetrainline.com's main competitor (in train booking software) is Atos's WebTIS product which is used by East Coast, Chiltern, Southern, Southeastern, London Midland and Atos's own site redspottedhanky.com. First Capital Connect and First Great Western moved from thetrainline based booking engine to Atos's WebTIS product in November 2012.
In August 2008, thetrainline.com launched its ticket alert service. Ticket Alert enables customers to sign up for email alerts, via thetrainline.com website, which notify them as soon as advance tickets (typically the cheaper tickets) become available for specific journeys, which the customer pre-selects.
In September 2008, thetrainline.com relaunched its website, adding a feature known as the Best Fare Finder, which allows customers to search for the cheapest fare between selected stations on a given day.
In October 2009, thetrainline.com introduced their iPhone application which allows for journey planning, timetable download and basic station information. The updated version of the application which allows tickets to be purchased via an iPhone is available free from the iTunes Store and was released in October 2010. Free versions of the app also exist for Blackberry, Android and other mobile devices.
In January 2011, thetrainline.com introduced a quick train times tool so that users can find train times for all national rail stations in an instant.
thetrainline.com operates a tiered booking fee system, where booking and card fees change depending on the method of booking, value of transaction and payment method. Customers are charged anywhere between £0.25 and £1.50. In some cases, a flat 2% fee is applied to a transaction. It is possible to buy the same tickets from the websites of the train operating companies. These websites do not usually charge booking fees.
Data for Google Maps
thetrainline.com’s formerly had a partnership with Google Maps to provide National Rail travel information service for mainland Britain. Users of Google Maps have train route and timetable information for more than 2,500 stations and 170,000 trips nationwide at their fingertips, in addition 8,000 bus stops and over 250 tube stations. The service is now powered with data direct from Traveline.
The eligibility to changes or cancel tickets varies depending on the type of ticket purchased. As of late 2011, users can request a refund and/or a change of journey on thetrainline.com. Across the rail industry a £10 charge is applied for this service.
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