Trainline Customer Experience and Product Teardown

Trainline is Europe’s leading train and coach app. They were established in 1997 by the Virgin Group and within online sales beginning in 1999. They aim to make the experience as simple as possible for people to get the best prices and real time travel info on the go.


In 2015, the company rebranded itself from to Trainline and was acquired by Captain Train in 2016.

The application landscape

Trainline have a number of channels that have service. Each varies in degrees of functionality but each each customer experience is optimise for the device the customer is using. 

Getting the basics right


Trainline concentrate on make the ability of a person getting on a train as seamless as possible. They do this by ensures the core journey the person at the point of deciding which train to catch to catching the train is as easy as possible. 


A process of for a person catching a train is as follows:


  1. Decide the time you’d like to catch the train.

  2. Is it a single trip or a return?

  3. Buy the ticket

  4. Show the ticket at barriers to board the train

  5. Board train


These steps are key to completing the task to board a train for any application and Trainline executes this perfectly on both Web and in the app,

Trainline journey to by a train ticket

National Rail app journey finder

Transition from .com to apps

The point of which Trainline rebranded from is a very significant in the change in people's behaviour. 10 years ago people would plan ahead before setting off on their journey. The same basic steps would be done before boarding the train but the person plan their journey on a desktop or laptop and buy their ticket at a kiosk of collect their ticket from a vending machine.

 During the past 10 years the time people have spent on their mobile devices have grown around the world and have only just surpassed Europe in the past year. 

Trainline have recognised this and removed the .com from their brand as mobile apps are just as frequently used as the website.

Trainline logo comparison

Trainline aren’t the only brand that have dropped .com from their brand. Here are some examples.

MoneySupermarket logo comparison

TravelSupermarket logo comparison

Made logo comparison

These changes have resulted in a significant reduction in friction from the basic steps. One of these improvements is the ability to buy tickets through the mobile app. This resulted in a reduction in queuing time at the ticket kiosk significantly reducing time before boarding the train.

The other major improvement was to scan the QR code for the train ticket. This results in the person buying a ticket and boarding a train without any possible intervention from a conductor.

Understanding Trainline customer ecosystem

The Trainline experience span a number of devices with varying degrees of features. Each have been optimised for each device.

Added enhancements 


The Trainline have continue to expand the features of their app by doing a number of enhancements:


  • Tracking Train journeys - The Trainline app provides live updates on Train times and delays and notifies the user with clear call to actions.

  • Business account - As well as logging into a personal account users can also log into a business account which make the ability to claim expense and manage tickets much easier and tickets are kept separated from the personal account

  • Adding tickets your wallet - By adding the train ticket to your Apple Wallet means you don't have to open the Trainline app itself in order to reveal the train ticket. All you need is to load up your Apple or Google wallet 

  • Receive notifications and updates on the train ticket you’ve bought

  • Live updates can appear on your Apple watch

  • Multiple ways to pay for a ticket


In Conclusion

Trainline live up to their commitment on to make train and coach travel as easy as possible. They get the basics of what it means to the person travel and easing the process.

However there are a few aspects of the app that could be improved.

  1. Enlarge QR tickets - Scanning your ticket at ticket barriers has been difficult at times. To make this process easier an option could be introduced to enlarge the QR code on the ticket. Many apps on the Android has this feature.

  2. The ability to purchase tickets local and international tickets at the same time. The Trainline app doesn't combine the experience to purchase local ticket, eg. my home town to London Euston and London King Cross to Paris. The consumer must by these tickets separately 

  3. Set up and store season tickets on the app: A user will have a different experience to buying season tickets on their mobile. Firstly the user will be take out of the mobile app and redirected to the website. The user must purchase the ticket and provide the unique number found on their photo card. The user must collect in store. It would be great if season tickets could be set up and purchased through the app. 

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