Trainline's booking app helps UK passenger ticket sales soar 24%

Tom Belger
·Finance and policy reporter
Trainline logo is displayed behind small toy figures and a stock graph in this illustration picture, June 20, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
New customers have flocked to the Trainline app. Photo: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Trainline’s (TRN.L) slick app helped UK consumer ticket sales soar by 24% at the rail booking firm in the nine months to 30 November.

The company, which went public and joined the FTSE 250 (^FTMC) earlier this year, said strong mobile demand and the increased use of e-tickets by rail firms and passengers had boosted its sales.

Trainline said in a trading statement on Tuesday its total net ticket sales had risen from £2.42bn in the nine months to 30 November last year to £2.86bn this year.

That included UK consumer sales of £1.54bn this year, with its UK Trainline for Business sales and international sales making up the rest.

But the company admitted to “some slowdown in the most recent quarter in discretionary travel spend” by large firms, leaving business sales edging only 2% higher.

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Sales rose most in international ticket sales, up 49% to £390m, driven largely through new customers flocking to the app.

The company re-confirmed full-year expectations of group net ticket sales “in the high-teens” in percentage terms.

But it warned of some impact from French rail strike action in the most recent quarter, which could explain a 1.6% slide in its share price in early trading on Tuesday.

Trainline said group revenue was up 26% year-on-year to £198m, driven by the launch of new revenue services.

The company is a leading rail and coach booking provider, offering millions of fares from more than 260 operators across 45 countries.

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But the company recorded an operating pre-tax loss of £8m in its half-year results published last month, which it blamed on exceptional costs linked to its initial public offering (IPO).

Trainline highlighted its mobile app’s 4.9-star rating on Apple’s App Store. Apple even includes ‘App Store Editors’ Notes’ next to the app praising the customer experience.

Apple’s note said traditionally buying tickets can be a “labyrinthine task,” but Trainline made different ticket types and deals “clear as day.”

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said Trainline was “one of those rare IPO stories this year that has been a success.”