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Putting train passengers first

London North Eastern Railway

LNER digital transformation case study

The big ticket challenge

  • Category: Transport UX Research and Design Mobile and Web Development

Anyone travelling on the UK rail network will know that booking tickets online can be bewilderingly complex. There’s an eye-watering 55 million ticket combinations available. Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC), now known as London North Eastern Railway (LNER), wanted a gamechanging website that made ticket buying flexible, intuitive and transparent. Kin + Carta Connect was happy to help.

11% uplift in transactions
13% uplift in revenue


A simple flip in thinking was the starting point of a better journey.

The old ticket booking tool promoted more expensive tickets. We wondered why we shouldn’t show cheaper fixed-price tickets first – nobody else was doing it for some reason. This meant travellers could compare ticket options and prices and easily see whether a ticket was ‘fixed’ or ‘flexible’. If they chose a more expensive combination than they needed, then the system told them.

All digital clutter was removed with a filter that allowed customers to quickly view the cheapest fares or journey. They could also see when their ticket was valid, a personalised price breakdown of their booking and where they’d made savings.

To better serve travellers on-the-go – the majority of visitors to the site – a rich mobile experience was created based on analytics and user data, including the addition of PayPal.

LNER mobile screenshot

Simple and fun

Improvements were designed to drive engagement and enhance the customer experience.

We did everything we could to make the interface simple and transparent. At the same time we didn’t forget the fun, down to earth tone of voice.

As part of the process we got insights from user testing and an 8-week beta period to feed into further rounds of optimisation.

The new site was built using the Episerver platform but this industry leading solution also involved integration with multiple third parties, such as CBE booking engine, IBM Interact, CyberSource and National Rail Enquiry.

LNER desktop website view

Late and hungry

We made it possible for last-minute passengers who normally wait in line at a kiosk to purchase their ticket online within 15 minutes of their train departing.

Passengers could also pre-order food ahead of travel, and enjoy it being delivered straight to their seat. The cheese ploughman sandwich was a firm favourite with passengers, closely followed by tuna mayo.

Making it accessible

We created a separate, accessible booking flow optimized specifically for customers using assistive technologies. Partnering with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) for the site’s accessibility we achieved the RNIB’s AA ‘Tried and Tested’ certification.This meant there were no major accessibility or usability issues that could prevent a blind or partially-sighted customer from using the site.

LNER desktop website screenshot

Steaming ahead

Following the launch, we closely monitored the tool to ensure everything was running smoothly. The team produced daily analytics reports with weekly wrap-us and user testing leading to a program of continuous enhancements.

19% 19% in desktop conversion rate
11% increase in transactions
13% increase in revenue

The new ticket booking system is a vital tool for our customers, allowing them to quickly and easily purchase the right tickets for their needs, anywhere and at any time.

Kristal Ireland - Head of Ecommerce & Retail, LNER

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