Virgin Trains is launching a new website designed to make searching and buying the cheapest possible ticket far simpler. The site provides customers with a one-stop-shop from enquiry through to ticket purchase. Already over 60,000 Virgin Trains customers have bought tickets through the new improved website.
Searching for, and identifying, the cheapest available tickets for a rail journey has long been a bone of contention for many passengers. However, Virgin Trains has tackled this issue head on by developing and implementing a brand new search engine which simplifies the process and enables passengers to identify and purchase the best rail fare available quickly.
While the railways are moving towards simplification of advance purchase fares across the industry, Virgin Trains is leading the way with its new, improved search engine (www.virgintrains.com) which has been developed in conjunction with ticket retailer The Trainline.com.
Virgin Trains is also announcing a major campaign to make rail ticket fares more transparent and raise awareness of the value for money of rail travel. The new search engine and simpler, more user-friendly website will present rail passengers with the cheapest advance purchase - or walk-up - fares which are available for their chosen journey. No longer are all fares shown, irrespective of whether they are available or not.
In a separate development, passengers who are unable to buy a Virgin Advance ticket for both the outward and return legs of their journey, or unable to specify an exact train for one leg of a return journey, are now able to mix and match ticket types and buy a Saver Half Return (at half the price of a Saver Return) for either the outward or return leg of the journey. This money-saving facility is available for website bookings only.
There is still a perception that rail fares are expensive and a recent survey by watchdog Passenger Focus revealed that only 58% of rail passengers using Virgin Trains services felt they were getting value for money.
Virgin Trains has always been at the forefront of making ticket-buying cheaper and simpler; it was the first train operator to introduce one-way tickets, introducing the simplest rail website to ease ticket-buying and working with the consumer group, Passenger Focus, to produce leaflets on buying cheap tickets. Furthermore, Virgin has also been trialling The Trainline.com’s brand new e-ticketing system - print@home, which it plans to relaunch later this year.
Virgin Trains Commercial Director, Graham Leech, explains: “We’re undertaking a number of activities in the next six months to show people how to find the best value tickets available and how easy it really is to book, particularly online with our new website and search engine. We believe Virgin Trains is leading the industry providing a fast, simple and easy-to-navigate process for identifying and purchasing the best possible fare.”
The simplification of the Virgin Trains website has been praised by Passenger Focus. Chief Executive Anthony Smith said: “There are some great deals on fares out there, but many passengers are telling us that the current ticketing system is too complicated to navigate. There is a clear need to simplify the way tickets are sold to help passengers take advantage of the cheaper tickets. Any move to simplify websites is a step in the right direction.”