Quno exits stealth to get UK rail travellers booking online

Quno, part of global travel technology group SilverRail Technologies, has exited stealth with the simple aim of bringing airline ticket-style booking to rail journeys in the belief that existing offerings are too unwieldy, displaying a mix of complex fares, times and information.

This is, of course, perhaps a reflection of the industry itself but either way, Quno believes it’s impacting the move to booking train tickets online. Currently, two thirds of rail booking in the UK is done physically at train stations themselves, which compares badly to the rest of the travel industry. Quno (a play on the words “queue” and “no”) is trying to change this.

The National Rail accredited site isn’t just competing on price – it guarantees that its advertised online fares are never available cheaper at the railway station – but also in terms of user experience and the data it has available. Quno claims to offer the “first” visual timetable tool, which gives travellers the entire day’s options in a single snapshot, making it much easier to compare the impact of traveling at different times during the day or week etc. Hence the airline booking comparison.

Moving forward, Quno says it will be rolling out “game changing” features currently not available to rail travellers. That’s pretty lofty stuff but we’ve already had a glimpse of what these might entail. Last month, while the site was still in stealth, we reported on an upcoming tie-in with U.S. location-based social gaming platform SCVNGR. In line with other games built on top of SCVNGR, which runs on iPhone and Android, the “Quno Challenge” gives commuters the chance to compete against each other for badges and rewards by downloading the Quno Challenge app and checking-in at their station upon which the Quno challenges can be accessed.

Noteworthy, aside from any upcoming features, Quno isn’t a UK-only play but is gunning to be a pan-European player. It aims to offer rail travel across “most major European destinations by the end of 2012, allowing travellers to book multi-country rail journeys in a single transaction.” That’s ambitious stuff indeed.

SilverRail is VC funded: It received $9 million in series A capital from a group of top-tier investment firms including Sutter Hill Ventures, Grandbanks Capital, PAR Capital, Brook Ventures.