The author: Frederic Kalinke


Written by Frederic Kalinke

80% of tickets purchased offline, according to first Insight Report into the UK rail market

SilverRail, the technology company powering global rail with its next generation retailing and distribution platform, has revealed in its first Market Insight Report behavioural trends of UK travellers when purchasing rail tickets and highlights a number of opportunities for the industry.

Data included in the Report indicates that only 20% of all UK rail tickets purchased in 2015 were through online channels, despite growth in online sales over the past seven years.

In response to these findings, Cameron Jones, Chief Commercial Officer at SilverRail, said: “The UK is one of the strongest e-commerce markets globally¹; 76% of consumers now own a smartphone², and nearly half (48%) of the population have bought groceries online³. It is clear that the public is steering towards online purchasing more and more, and that this trend will only continue to grow. Yet, our Report highlights that UK rail is significantly behind the pace – even in comparison to other European rail carriers. In France and Spain, over 40% of rail tickets are purchased online, in Sweden it is as much as 90%.”

“It is encouraging to see growth in online sales in the UK but, with 80% of rail passengers still using offline channels to complete their rail ticket purchases, there is still a lot of room for improvement. Other industries are thriving online, but train operating companies have so far been unable to fully capitalise on this opportunity, which could give them a key competitive differentiator in the market.”

The UK Rail Market Insights Report also reveals an interesting trend when looking at how purchasing behaviour changes depending on how close to departure bookings are made. When travellers purchase advance tickets (more than one week ahead of departure), online purchases account for more than 50% of those sales. In comparison travellers who book during the week of departure overwhelmingly book offline, with 75% of purchases made at a ticket office.

David Pitt, Head of UK at SilverRail adds: “The Report has revealed some fundamental areas of focus for the UK rail industry. The disparity in purchasing patterns between advance bookings and on the day purchases (or close to travel purchases) highlights that this is an area that requires attention. The emergence of third party retailers and technology advances have had a small impact on online booking adoption and our report shows there is still some way to go. This, in part, is due to the persistent reliance on the ‘orange ticket’.

“There will always be customers who need on-the-day ticket office services, but delivering, purchasing and ticket fulfilment improvements are a huge opportunity for train operating companies. The technology we are developing at SilverRail will continue to take the customer view and dismantle the barriers, remove complexity, and make online rail booking simpler and easier for all.”

The Report offers the most comprehensive look at the UK’s rail industry today, offering insights into rail usage stats, ticketing, comparisons across Europe, passenger satisfaction levels, investments and more. The full Report can be downloaded here.

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For media inquiries, please contact:
Belinda Hallworth/Archie Pottinger – Flagship Consulting 020 7680 7114/7113
Sophy Norris – Flagship Consulting 01392 248 934.

About SilverRail Technologies (
SilverRail is powering global rail with its next generation retailing and distribution platform.

SilverRail’s proprietary technology offers a cohesive digital infrastructure for rail. Our product suite spans the full customer experience: journey planning, inventory management, scheduling, pricing, booking, payment, ticketing, reporting and administration.
SilverCore is the world’s first unified platform for global rail distribution, it connects carriers and suppliers to both online and offline travel distributors.

  • SilverRail handles more than 1 billion online rail searches each year.
  • SilverRail distributes tickets for more than 35 providers and carriers
  • SilverRail processes more than 25 million bookings each year.
  • SilverRail serves more than 1,500 corporate customers worldwide.

SilverRail was founded in 2009 by Aaron Gowell and Will Phillipson, is headquartered in London, but also has offices in Boston, Stockholm and Brisbane.