Mobile operator O2 UK has confirmed that the O2 Train Travel service will be closed down as of 16 July. The app allowed users to check timetables, find the fastest routes or the cheapest fares, and book tickets from any U.K. mainland rail company, via their mobile phones. The operator said it was closing the service so that it can invest in new digital products and services. Customers can buy tickets until 16 July, with any purchased tickets valid for up to 12 weeks.
We have often called on operators to devise value-added services targeted to their customers’ particular needs, as a way of shoring up revenue as traditional services deliver less and less per user. To be successful, though, such services need to provide something distinctive that cannot easily be obtained in other ways. In this case, creating the rail app must have looked like a savvy move that would in effect bring rail service under O2’s brand. However, it seems highly likely that it was already easy enough for users to check train information on their phones—by using their browsers or other apps—that the special app did not prove popular enough and therefore was scrapped.