Trainline IPO

Don’t think there’s a thread for the trainline IPO yet!

Trainline has confirmed details of its IPO this morning, including that it will raise £75m in new money as part of the float to fund expansion. The listing is due to take place next month. The company’s directors and other key employee shareholders are subject to a year-long lock up during which they are barred from selling their shares; pre-IPO shareholders (i.e. KKR) only have to stick around for 6 months.

Thoughts? Anyone hoping it’ll be available on FT post-float?


Very interested in this, actually checked if they were public the other day. I think once all rail companies use digital tickets Trainline will have practically a monopoly on train tickets. Their app is by far the easiest way to purchase tickets and compare times/prices.

Interested to read people’s thoughts.


It’s great to see them going public. I only discovered their app pretty recently but I use it every time I want to buy a ticket now - it’s much quicker to make an order & I don’t have to worry about losing my tickets :heart_eyes:

Funnily enough that’s one of the key points that their CEO mentioned in one of the stories today -

“If you go London to Birmingham, there are 16 different ticket types and 50 different fares,” Ms Gilmartin said, adding that there were more than 25,000 train stations in Europe and, unlike the airline industry, there was no centralised dataset or booking system to handle ticket sales. “We’ve aggregated all the choice on to one app [so that] users can access the network in a simple and easy way,” she said.

Trainline is Britain’s most popular service for buying tickets online and Ms Gilmartin said that she wanted to expand into Japan and North America. She predicted that consumers would buy a greater proportion of their train and bus tickets online. At present, between 60 per cent and 70 per cent of rail tickets were bought in stations, she said. “There’s no doubt more will go online and to mobile . . . Increased utilisation of the network is bloody good for the environment.”

Quote from (paywall) ‘£1bn flotation is just the ticket for Trainline app’ - The Times

Here’s some more coverage of the news -


Kind of related but cracking SEO work on the search term for “Trainline IPO”



This is a very interesting one!

Trainline has a really strong brand in the UK, and a rock solid SEO foundation, and has improved its mobile app a lot in the last couple of years, with etickets, Apple Pay/Wallet etc. A clever feature which I like is the ‘how busy is your carriage’ feature for people to give feedback. This has created a ‘flywheel’ of user-generated content, which gives them data/content to improve the app. These features will be useful especially for commuters who may have season tickets but still use the app every day for timetable status etc.

In terms of market expansion, in many European countries, there are strong incumbents who are often the default ticketing provider used by local travellers. However, I think Trainline’s app (way better than many local players), increasing coverage of rail tickets across Europe, and the fact that you can use one single app to buy tickets across the continent will attract both travellers across borders and tourists.

Will keep tabs on this one, and of course we’ll aim to add it to the app as soon as we can! :bullettrain_front: :chart_with_upwards_trend:


A company I use all the time with a clear and distinct moat attached, fear it could be heavily bought on IPO though as its a well known brand here in the UK

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Trainline relies heavily on open data from National Rail. Most of this ‘BusyBot’ data is not from them or their users. It comes from National Rail’s API. It’s largely based on seat reservations, I don’t think it has started to use the information from weight as used on Thameslink trains.

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Good point on the seat reservation data. I do think these types of features can help it drive frequency a lot though, a key driver for consumer mobile apps. Judging by the chaos I saw on trains over the Bank Holiday, no one has got this information quite right yet!! :bullettrain_side: :seat: :x:

Alternatives are available ( without booking fees ) :wink:


Any recommendations? I don’t think I’ve ever paid a booking fee for my travel from London to Southampton :eyes:

Freetrade PLEASE get this for launch! :slight_smile:


I stopped using thetrainline many years ago to avoid their booking fees. I just checked London to Southampton, and there are booking fees for advance tickets.

I think thetrainline provide white-label tech for the train companies, so they make money anyway even if I don’t use them.

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Ah, maybe that’s the reason. I just buy them on the day, usually about 10 minutes before the train’s about to leave when I’m at the station.


If you buy for same day travel then it’ll be fee free. If not ScotRail sell all advance tickets UK wide without a fee ( as do other Train Operating Companies I think )

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Trainline have an awesome app and website. They also offer coach services and are expanding heavily in Europe. Lots of potential here in the broken train market.

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Hey, we’ve done a bit more research and here’s everything we know about Trainline’s IPO so far:

  • Trainline was founded 20 years ago – they offer rail and coach tickets from over 220 transport providers across Europe and Asia :earth_asia:
  • They employ over 600 people in the UK and France :woman_technologist:
  • They considered an IPO in 2015, instead, they were acquired by US Investment Group KRR :us:
  • Operating profit of £10.5m in the financial year ending February 2019.
  • Revenue was £3.2b, up from £1.6b in 2015 :chart_with_upwards_trend:
  • In the last couple of years, they’ve added some new features to their app like Apple Pay, e-tickets, season tickets and live seating availability :calling:
  • Likely to go public sometime in June, floating 25% of its shares :money_with_wings:
  • Valuation is set to be £1.5b :bank:
  • They’re looking to raise £75m to expand the business and pay off debt :moneybag:
  • EU expansion is also a big priority – CEO Clare Gilmartin highlighted that over 60% of rail tickets in the five biggest EU markets are still purchased offline :ticket:
  • We aim to add the stock to your Freetrade app as soon as we can! :woman_technologist:

Potential investors will be hoping the IPO isn’t delayed :wink:


Trainline is one of those companies where I don’t understand how they can still exist and make money in this day and age.

I know a lot of it is because they’re a relatively old company and so have had a long time to get themselves stuck in peoples brains when it comes to thinking of where to buy train tickets. To the extent that people think that they’re the only place to look and there isn’t any alternative.

But. They don’t sell any tickets themselves, they’re basically an aggregator and will look up the various train company prices for you and then act as a middleman for you, and get a booking fee for doing so.

So why not cut out Trainline and book with the train companies direct? If Trainline find a GWR ticket for you and want to sell it to you with a booking fee on top, why go and buy it directly from GWR for the same price with no booking fee? That seems like a no-brainer to me.

I always suggest to people that they use National Rail to look up tickets instead. It basically does the same aggregation as Trainline, but rather than act as a middleman when you want to make a booking, it directs you straight to the relevant company instead, so you’re always booking direct.

That’s not even considering the split ticketing sites, which are there if you’re determined to try and save as much money on trains as you can.

Now, I may be missing a trick, I may be passing up a golden investment opportunity, but all the above is why I will not be investing in Trainline and why I can’t see doing so making any money. I can’t see the genuine value they add that would make a booking fee worth it, and I can’t see a future where people never realise that Trainline are basically taking money for nothing. Therefore, sooner or later, they will surely struggle.


i agree with this (maybe i don’t get it either because clearly they are doing quite well).

I used to take the train quite a lot (and was a student so very price sensitive). I worked out that in the UK if you use, say, virgin train website, you can get tickets for any of the other train companies like Chiltern railway etc. You get the same deals ie off peak/advance across the network and there is never a booking fee whereas trainline somtimes charge you. I checked trainline and they always showed the cheapest but also exactly the same px as using any of the main operators’ websites.

This is completely different from skyscanner et al as individual flight booking sites do not show the same px and the difference is very significant so you need to check them all to save money. In this scenario, an aggregator adds tremendous value.