One of the best ways to bop around the UK and Europe is by train. We discovered Trainline when researching train and bus routes/schedules in advance of our five month, five country UK/European adventure in spring-summer, 2022. While it’s a great, aggregated resource for determining routes & schedules, Trainline – particularly the app (which is very well designed) – is really at its best when used as a purchase and ticket download tool.
Official Website: TrainLine.com
It’s as easy as entering your starting point and destination, date(s) and, if applicable, preferred departure times. Then you can explore the options presented. Whenever there are multiple options the app will sort by “Cheapest” and/or “Fastest”, and will also provide key details like whether the route is direct or, in the case of connections, the time you have to make the connection and whether the route entails a change in mode (e.g.: train to bus, or vice-versa).
If available you can also reserve specific preferences on trains (quiet carriage, near luggage rack, seat facing forward or backward, etc.). We found this worked flawlessly and never came with an extra charge when we used the feature. Choosing some of these options a great way to make longer journeys as comfortable as possible.
Speaking from an iPhone user’s perspective, this couldn’t be easier. Just select the journey you wish to purchase, select ApplePay as your preferred payment option, and proceed. Tickets will download directly to the app, and can be copied to Apple Wallet for double security if you wish. These downloads sometimes take a while (anywhere from a few minutes to as long as 24 hours), but they worked seamlessly every time.
Some things to note:
- if you’re travelling with another person and purchasing all the tickets on one device those tickets only reside on that device. It goes without saying that you have to travel together so the device can display the tickets for all travellers on the same journey;
- It’s also very important that you travel with the device you used to book the tickets. That’s the only device that will display the tickets; and,
- travel with the credit or debit card you used to make the purchase. In some cases where an access code downloads (as opposed to an actual ticket) you’ll need that card to verify your purchase at the automated dispensers at train stations.
Managing your tickets:
There is an option to change dates/times, or ask for refunds, built into each ticket summary once the purchase is complete. We used this feature on a couple of occasions and things worked well.
There are a couple of things to be aware of, however:
- Once you’ve activated your ticket(s) on the day of travel you can no longer change the date/time of the journey; and,
- If you purchase a return ticket with a return at a later date (e..g.: one week after your outbound trip) you can not make a change to the return trip (or request a refund on the return portion) once you’ve used to outbound portion of the ticket.
Trainline’s user interface is well designed and easy to use. Prices are comparable to booking directly with individual carriers and the aggregation function allows you to explore travel options quickly and easily.
This app made a complicated trip a lot easier to plan. Try it out for your UK and European explorations!
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