I travel a fair bit by train, usually booking tickets on-line for collection at the station. The system is pretty simple and foolproof, you go on-line on one of the many websites that will sell you a ticket and say you are going from A to B on whatever day, pay your money and usually I elect to collect the tickets from the departure station.
I do this because I worry that if I choose to have the train tickets posted to me, they won't arrive in time and also because I don't normally book my tickets until the day before I'm going to travel.
There are a couple of things that train operating companies & National Rail Enquires could do to make this easy process a lot more slick.
The usual pattern of events for me when I am travelling is:
Now what if when I was booking the tickets the website gave me some options like
1. Being able to just stick the card you used to pay for the tickets in the machine and get tickets would be really handy. It is pretty secure, if you lose your wallet or purse what are the chances that the person who has it actually knows that you have booked tickets and would be stupid enough to collect them? Maybe link this to a price limit, if your tickets are less than £100 in value you can use this option.
2. Being able to create your own reference number would be a real feature and time saver, I go to the station, stick my card in tap in my memorable and reusable reference number get tickets. This could even by part of your account preferences with which ever website you choose to use to book your tickets.
3. I can create a secure reference number that can be used without the card regardless of price, this way I can book tickets for my family, colleagues or whoever, give them the reference and they can get the tickets.
All of the above is pretty simple stuff to do and would make life so much easier for customers.
Oh and one other thing, on the ticket machines why not have a ABC / QWERTY button that changes the layout of the onscreen keyboard to one that I can use.