One of my favorite French trip planning resources is undergoing a major change. Beginning September, Captain Train will be known as Trainline. Only time will tell whether this change is a positive one for consumers.
In March, Captain Train was purchased by the British rail booking company Trainline. Since this time, there’s been no change in the interface, services or ease of use of the Captain Train website. That will change in September when Captain Train will cease to exist and will be known as Trainline. Both websites discuss the benefit this merger will have for consumers. Unfortunately bigger isn’t always better; what’s good for business isn’t always great for the consumer. Captain Train is a great service and it will be challenging to make it better without impacting ticket prices.
Since being purchased last year by the global investment firm KKR, Trainline has pursued an aggressive expansion plan, including the purchase of Captain Train. Such an aggressive growth plan hardly seems compatible with the goals of Captain Train as listed on the website: “No ads, no distractions, no huge revolution, no plans for world domination, no overblown ambitions.” A lot of us who have used this website since 2009 and have recommended it to others hope that the new Captain Train will continue to provide rail travelers with the best price and ease of use.
For those traveling by bike, one of the best features of the Captain Train reservation system is the bike transport information. For TGV trains, this includes the ability to make a bike reservation along with your passenger reservation in one easy step. Information on taking a bike on a specific train is included with the train details.
If there’s no bike information for a particular train, they’re not permitted on that train. This information is invaluable when planning an overseas bike trip. I hope this information will be available on the new Trainline reservation system.
Stay tuned for information on how this transition evolves. I love using the current Captain Train website. I’d love nothing better than to report in December that the pricing and the customer experience are exactly the same or better!