Train operator GNER is launching an innovative new website which incorporates a specially developed, user-friendly ticket booking engine.
The new gner.co.uk website makes finding and buying the cheapest tickets for travel anywhere in the UK rail network easier than ever before. The site, which has been praised by Passenger Focus, the rail passenger watchdog, took more than 18 months to develop.
For the first time, travellers can now search for the best fares available by either train time, fare group or through a new ‘lowest fares finder’ tool which highlights the cheapest rail fare combination available for any given day of travel.
Alternatively passengers can look for the fares marked with a red star which have an exclusive 10% online discount and are only available at gner.co.uk.
GNER is the first train operating company in the UK to launch its own booking engine, leading a step-change in ticket retailing for the rail industry.
The new website has been developed by GNER in partnership with international IT services company, Atos Origin, and user-design specialists, Flow Interactive.
A dedicated web support team based in GNER‰€ s call centre in Newcastle will provide help and assistance for customers using the new website.
GNER chief executive Jonathan Metcalfe said: “GNER’s new website offers passengers a comprehensive, one-stop shop for planning rail travel which makes it easy to find and buy the best value rail fares on offer. Managing the website and booking engine in-house ensures GNER is able to offer a greatly improved online retailing channel and communicate much more effectively with its passengers.”
Atos Origin head of rail and bus Tony Lacy said: “Time and cost efficiency and increased passenger‰€ s choice, are critical in the travel industry. We are delighted to have worked with GNER to design and build an industry-leading e-solution that provides an enhanced online travel experience for GNER’s customers, helping them to save time and money by planning their journey ahead.”
The website has been warmly welcomed by passenger watchdog, Passenger Focus. Guy Dangerfield, Passenger Focus manager, said: “The new GNER website will show passengers where the best deals are, allowing people to trade-off between the time they travel and the price they pay. This will make it much easier for passengers to get the best deal for their journey, taking advantage of often cracking-value advanced purchase tickets.”
New features also include the option to reserve preferred seating options and bicycle spaces, information on each train service such as connections, catering and station stops en-route and new ‘help bubbles’ which guide users through each stage of journey planning.
For the first time users can apply for refunds or make changes to their journey online at any time of the day, rather than through the web support call centre.
The provision of real-time information on track maintenance work and unplanned disruption has also been improved to help passengers avoid journeys with delays.
Improved content is organised in a manner that is easy to navigate and relevant for customers planning a rail journey, such as destination guides, timetables, exclusive partner discounts, a hotel booking service and reviews.
To meet DDA requirements the website supports an alternative text-only version of the site which guides users through the booking process in a series of simple stages.
It has also attained Web Accessibility Accreditation from The Shaw Trust, a charity which assesses the usability of websites for disabled users using its own assistive technology testing method.
The website is also integrated with customer relationship management tools enabling GNER to monitor ticket sales, analyse buying patterns and segment customer types. As a result the train operator is able to send information about new products, special offers and destinations that is relevant to each specific customer.
The system is also designed to support new retailing initiatives for the future such as personalised home pages, mobile integration and print at home and mobile phone ticketing.