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Ctrip partners UK peers to launch ticketing app

By Angus Mcneice in London | China Daily | Updated: 2018-12-06 11:20
A logo of China's online travel agency Ctrip. [Photo/VCG]

China's largest travel agency Ctrip has launched a train ticketing app in the United Kingdom called TrainPal, which promises savings to commuters in Britain through a "split ticketing" smart tool and no booking fee.

UK-based online rail solutions provider Evolvi and British communications company Citizens Relations have both partnered with Ctrip to deliver the new transport application.

TrainPal will take no commission for bookings and provides further cost-cutting through automated split ticketing, a practice of booking a journey in stages to achieve savings.

For example, if a traveler wants to get from London to Manchester, he or she could buy one ticket for the whole journey.

However, it could work out cheaper to buy a ticket from London to Stoke-on-Trent, one of the stops on the route, and a second ticket from Stoke-on-Trent to Manchester.

There are several existing websites that calculate split ticket fares but Citizens Relations strategy and innovation director Scot Devine claims TrainPal is the only mobile booking app in the UK to offer the feature.

Devine anticipates the app will be well received in a country where 53 percent of people believe they are overpaying for rail transport, according to a 2017 survey from watchdog Transport Focus. A separate survey by accountancy company KPMG found that with such an overwhelming number of ticket options available, only 34 percent of travelers in Britain believed they had bought the best value ticket for their last journey.

"Chaos and fare hikes is the typical train fare story in Britain," said Devine. "So we'll show how TrainPal is a sane voice in a mad world, guiding people toward the best prices."

Amy Wei, head of TrainPal and group general manager of international train ticketing at Ctrip, said the app is being launched at a convenient time, with the UK government in the process of rolling out a smart ticketing program across England and Wales.

"With the British government spending 80 million pounds ($101 million) on revolutionizing ticketing from paper to mobile and contactless, it's the perfect time to launch TrainPal in the UK market," Wei said.

"Our Citizen team is passionate about making TrainPal a success in the UK and has the right blend of media, influencer engagement and content to make the campaign a success."

Wei said that Ctrip plans to launch TrainPal in other countries down the line, with the eventual aim of making it the go-to app for global rail bookings. She said Ctrip selected to debut TrainPal in the UK as it would prove its efficacy in the "most complicated rail market in the world".

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