Trainline runs the booking systems for Virgin Trains, Greater Anglia, West Midlands Railway and others
Trainline runs the booking systems for Virgin Trains, Greater Anglia, West Midlands Railway and others © ANDY RAIN/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Trainline, the online train-ticketing company whose June float was the second-largest in the UK this year, lifted revenues by almost 30 per cent in the first half.

The company’s shares are now trading at 28 per cent above their initial offer price, after they jumped 5 per cent on Thursday.

Trainline’s primary business is the consumer-facing thetrainline.com website, which aggregates fares and gives travellers a clean booking interface. Train operators pay a 5 per cent commission on bookings, and travellers pay a smaller service fee.

Total revenues were £129m in the six months to August 2019, compared with £100m a year earlier. The group expected full-year revenue growth in the low to mid 20 per cent range.

Net ticket sales on the platform rose 19 per cent to £1.8bn, driven largely by more consumers booking tickets on their mobile phones.

About a quarter of the company’s business comes from white-label train booking websites. Trainline runs the booking systems for Virgin Trains, Greater Anglia, West Midlands Railway and others. In total, 59 per cent of online UK rail sales pass through its infrastructure.

“As most rail and coach tickets continue to be sold offline, and as customers and governments commit to championing more environmental modes of travel, we see significant growth opportunities for Trainline over the long term”, chief executive Clare Gilmartin said in the trading statement.

Now well-established in the UK, Trainline has a growing, but lossmaking, international operation focused on western Europe. International revenues doubled to £14m, but remained a small part of the company’s overall business.

Despite the strong results, James Lockyer, a Peel Hunt analyst, urged caution on the company’s long-term outlook: “There are some known unknowns that make me a little bit more bearish.”

He singled out the UK government’s Williams Rail Review and the designs of tech companies such as Uber and Google on train booking as possible “existential risks” for Trainline.

Trainline’s IPO was the second-biggest of the year in London, according to Dealogic, after Network International, the United Arab Emirates-based payments group. The company now has a market value of about £2.3bn.

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