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Frustratingly slow and helps find the EXPENSIVE tickets
Member Name: G-Rold
Advantages: Fairly easy to use
Disadvantages: Expensive tickets and slow to navigate site.
I went for a long weekend away last weekend down to Hastings from London Victoria. I wasn't particularly fussy about the times of the trains, just knew the days I wanted to go. I did a Google search for 'cheap train tickets' and www.thetrainline.com was top of the list.
The home page contains a number of offers at the top of the page but they are specific journeys that had no interest to me. Down the left hand side is where you will find your search area. You simply type the departure and arrival stations, select your dates and rough times and the site does the search for you. The search itself is very slow in comparison to the little information you are then presented with.
I have to say I was shocked at the prices I was quoted for my journey. A standard return ticket over 3 days was quoted as £46.10. Although that isn't a huge amount to pay, I was convinced that I could find the tickets cheaper.
I went directly to the Southern Railways website (http://www.southernrailway.com/) and found identical tickets for a price of £15.90. A vast improvement in anyone's book.
Although I've never had the misfortune of having to deal with an apparently poor customer service team, I can recommend shopping around before booking any tickets via The Trainline.
Summary: I'd recommend dealing with train operators directly.