News & Analysis

State owned rival stops Trainline stock in its tracks

Andrew Saks, Friday, 21 May 2021

It's the 1970s all over again.

Those among us who can remember the dark days of socialism which crippled the world's economies and stagnated commercial and industrial development whilst bankrupting many Western nations due to poor fiscal policy and inefficient state-run institutions will likely be given a sense of deja-vu this morning.

Back in the days of flared trousers and collars as long as the handlebar moustaches which adorned many a male countenance, nationalization was the order of the day, bringing with it appalling services and quality of product, industrial action which often culminated in political aggression, and.... the Austin Allegro.

Square steering wheels, blancmange-like road holding and appalling build quality are just three of the unwelcome attributes which result from the government thinking it can master automotive engineering.

Back then, services such as public transport were exactly that  - public. Over 30 years of private operation of British railways has ensued, resulting in extremely high quality, if expensive, long distance transport.

An inkling that some of the rail travel related services may end up back in the hands of the state has emerged, sending shock waves through the stock market this morning.

Trainline, which is Britain's rail ticket booking and information service, has absolutely tanked following the announcement that the British government is about to launch a state-owned service providing rail information and ticket reservation facilities.

Trainline stock plummeted yesterday from 328p to 318.4p, and opened this morning at 3.08% lower than yesterday.

In early March 2020, Trainline stock was worth over 547p per share, and despite a massive drop to 225p when the government instigated draconian lockdowns later that month, it recovered and was back to just below the 400p mark  a month and a half later.

Since then, Trainline stock has been volatile indeed, however by March 2021, it was up to 517.50 therefore today's low value represents a 200p drop per share in just two months.

This year, government interference has been somewhat different to that of the 1970s when unionized workforces played cards on the production lines across Britain whilst unfinished products slid past and rolled off the assembly facility with parts missing and the reliability of a security guard with narcolepsy, and now to add to its disruptive, economy-reshaping lockdowns, competing with listed companies is on the cards.

Trainline, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, is widely accepted as being the most popular facility for reserving train tickets, its mobile application and website having been around since the 1990s and its ever-evolving stature having developed some clever touches, including the ability to store tickets in an Apple Wallet, meaning that touching your smartphone or Apple Watch on the entry and exit to stations validates tickets, and the ticket shows up alongside virtual credit and debit cards in the Apple Wallet application.

Clever stuff.

Let's hope the government-led rival doesn't railroad shareholders into losses.

 

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