Trainline reports gradual recovery after lockdown collapse in demand
Trainline said on Thursday that the impact of Covid-19 resulted in its net ticket sales decreasing to £358m in the first half, equivalent to 19% of the same period in the prior year.
The FTSE 250 company said that in the first quarter, government measures over the coronavirus pandemic resulted in a “significant slowdown” in all the markets in which it operates.
It said industry passenger volumes in the UK fell to around 5% of the same period in the prior year through April and May, with similar declines across international markets.
Trainline also processed a “significantly higher” number of refund requests, with more than two million in the UK alone.
As a result, group net ticket sales in the first quarter declined to £79m, equivalent to 9% of the same period in the prior year.
Group net ticket sales in the second quarter stepped up to £280m, equivalent to 30% of the same period in the prior year, as operating conditions began to recover.
That, the board said, followed the relaxation of government lockdowns and social distancing measures, first in international markets and then several weeks later in the UK.
There was also a “notable shift” of ticket volumes to online and digital channels.
Group net ticket sales improved throughout the quarter, exiting in August at 42% of the equivalent prior year period.
UK consumer net ticket sales of £154m was 30% of the equivalent prior year period, compared to second quarter industry passenger volumes at 24%, and improved over the quarter to 46% in August.
That, it said, reflected an accelerated shift to online and digital ticketing, as well as a significant step up in new customers to Trainline in the second quarter.
UK Trainline for Business net ticket sales of £21m was 7% of the equivalent prior year period, up from 1% in the first quarter, and improved over the quarter to 15% in August.
The company said that, while trends improved over the second quarter, demand for business travel remained subdued and the white label business continued to be impacted by season ticket refunds.
International net ticket sales of £105m were 74% of the equivalent prior year period, up from 10% in the first quarter, and at the end of the quarter in August were at 78%.
The firm said the international business had recovered more quickly than the UK, primarily reflecting a much earlier relaxation of lockdown and social distancing restrictions in those markets.
“By acting quickly and remaining agile, we continue to successfully navigate through the significant disruption Covid-19 has caused to the rail and coach industry,” said chief executive officer Clare Gilmartin.
“We have rapidly processed unprecedented levels of customer refunds, reduced costs and ensured we have enough liquidity to operate for the foreseeable future.”
Gilmartin said she was “pleased” to now see the industry recovering, particularly in the company’s international markets, as well as a faster shift to online reservation and digital ticketing, as expected, given the increased customer need for touchless travel.
“We will continue working hard to make rail and coach travel easier, safer and more accessible, reassuring customers and generating incremental demand for the industry.
“This includes making our 4.9-star rated app even better, adding new innovations like Crowd Alerts to help customers travel more safely, plus offering quick and easy access to the cheapest rail fares through SplitSave and our brand-new digital railcards.”
At 0849 BST, shares in Trainline were up 1.22% at 389.7p.