“New GNER website makes ticket buying easier for millions of rail passengers”

London, 30 November 2007

First train operating company to launch its own online ticketing system

GNER today (30 November) launched an innovative new website that makes rail ticket buying easier for millions of UK passengers. Incorporating a specially-developed ticket booking engine that is fast, intuitive and simple to use, 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.

 

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.

 

GNER chief executive, Jonathan Metcalfe, said: “GNER's new website offers passengers a 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's 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.”

For the first time, travellers can 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.

 

New features on the website 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 with its assistive technology testing method.

 

Moreover, the website is 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.

 

The website has already received praise from passenger watchdog, Passenger Focus. “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”, said Guy Dangerfield, Passenger Focus manager, and continued: “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.”

 

ENDS

 

Contact: GNER Press Office on 01904 523072 or 0131 550 2015.

 

Out of normal office hours (17.30 to 09.00 hours) please call 08700 005151 and ask for the duty press officer to be paged.

 

Visit the GNER Media Centre for a full image library and press release archive.

Notes to editors

  • The GNER website revamp has taken 18 months to develop.
  • Over a third of GNER ticket sales are now from online bookings. In the last year, usage of gner.co.uk has grown by over 80%.
  • A pilot version of the new booking engine was tested during October and November with over 7,500 customers purchasing tickets.
  • Post-pilot research revealed that 73 per cent of customers felt that the new booking engine is an improvement on the old gner.co.uk version (previously powered by thetrainline.com).
  • Over 80 per cent of customers found all elements of the booking process very or quite easy (with 48 per cent finding it very easy to use).
  • On 9th December the website URL will change to nationalexpress.com to coincide with the start of a new East Coast Main Line rail franchise under National Express ownership.

ABOUT GNER

GNER operates 136 weekday train services along the East Coast Main Line, linking London King's Cross,
the East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside, North East England and Scotland, carrying about 18 million
passengers a year.

 

ABOUT ATOS ORIGIN
Atos Origin is an international information technology services company. Its business is turning client vision into results through the application of Consulting, Systems Integration and Managed Operations. The Company's annual revenue is EUR 5.4 billion and it employs 50,000 people in 40 countries. Atos Origin is the Worldwide Information Technology Partner for the Olympic Games and has a client base of international blue-chip companies across all sectors. Atos Origin is quoted on the Paris Eurolist Market and trades as Atos Origin, Atos Euronext Market Solutions, Atos Worldline and Atos Consulting.