Rail company Eurostar today launched several mobile versions of its online booking service, complete with mobile tickets.
To cover all bases, Eurostar has launched a mobile optimised website, along with apps for both Android and iPhone.
Perhaps the most interesting feature though, is that it allows people to book journeys on the go and use their mobile as the ticket.
The app (I tried out the iPhone version) presents a simplified version of the booking process. Users can select stations for departure and their destinations by sliding the train left or right and selecting.
Travel times and number of passengers can be selected the same way, and the whole process is very easy to use:
Here’s the results page:
The booking process has been well-designed for mobile, and is actually a lot better than on the website.
The mobile ticketing is the clever bit. Once the booking is made, users receive a barcode on their device which they can use to board the train, thus saving the hassle of collecting tickets from machines or waiting for delivery.
This is something which would be very useful if UK rail operators offered it on their mobile sites. For example, thetrainline offers a mobile booking service, but not the ticketing part.
There are issues to be overcome here, as someone at the station or on the train has to validate that ticket so it requires a level of investment from the train operating companies. This is something that is easier to implement for Eurostar.
The Eurostar apps and mobile sites are well designed, and thanks to mobile ticketing, potentially very useful.
Unusually, the usability of the mobile version of the booking service is way better than that offered by the main Eurostar website. I wrote about its faults last year, and it doesn’t seem to have improved much since then.