European train booking system scrapped

Eurostar has confirmed that plans for a pan-European rail booking system have been shelved because of the costs and complexity.

The UK-based operator was a founding member of Railteam, which was set up in 2007,  alongside six other European railway operators including Deutsche Bahn and SNCF.

It held a press conference on Friday to announce its “achievements and priorities moving forward”. The decision to abandon the booking engine was not mentioned in the press release and only became apparent during the Q&A after a presentation.

A Eurostar spokesperson confirmed that the booking engine had been dropped because it was going to cost significantly more than the €30m originally earmarked. The BBC quoted Eurostar’s Lesley  Retallack: “All seven high-speed operators thought the platform would be a good idea but once we started looking at the system in detail we realised that it would be very complicated and therefore extremely expensive.”

It is understood that the project has not even been put out to tender. Railteam said that its research showed that customers wanted access to real- time information, particularly to their mobile, rather than the ability to book a single ticket across multiple operators.

The organisation will continue to promote high-speed intercity rail travel as a sustainable alternative to road and air travel within Europe.

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