Mid-Hants Railway Watercress Line

Back in 2007 the Mid-Hants Railway in Hampshire were still hand-processing the 10,000+ bookings a year they received for their special events such as Day Out With Thomas™, Santa Specials and War On The Line.

One reason the railway had never looked at an automated system in the past was because their internal procedures were not documented or fully identified. Their ‘system’ worked for the people who used it but they found it hard to detail all the steps being taken and therefore couldn’t express everything they would have wanted a new system to do.

We first undertook a programme of consultancy with all relevant personnel to break down and detail all the tasks that were being performed and why. This achieved two very important objectives. Firstly it helped draw up an outline specification for what the new system needed to do and secondly it created a bond between the people at the railway and the ‘outsiders’ looking to implement new systems. Many people see a new system as simply more work for them so it was crucial to ensure they felt valued and heard throughout the process. It’s a crucial step that is often missed.

Going beyond the original requirement, the system also provided a sales outlet for the many dining trains run by the railway as well as the well-known Real Ale Trains (RAT). All of these sell out well in advance so automating the whole process was a huge relief for the staff and volunteers. Finally the railway’s experience days and gift vouchers were made available to book online.

As part of the vTicket solution we provided all the graphic design and print management services for production of over 100,000 bespoke thermal tickets per year, 10,000 ticket wallets and specially designed windowed envelopes for posting them out. Finally we supplied and still maintain their own thermal ticket printer for use in the reservations department.

Now the railway concentrates on running events and services, not how people are going to book and receive their tickets.

In 2015 we updated the entire site with a new responsive design and separate content management system for all the preservation content.

Read the Mid-Hants Railway case study

What the client said...

I really couldn’t believe that it just worked and people started using it from day one. I know these systems are supposed to work, but when they actually do, and especially this well it’s almost a surprise. I would have to say that bringing in Online Ticketing is one of the best things we’ve ever done.
Colin Chambers - Mid-Hants Railway

Day Out With Thomas™

Thomas and Friends® is one of the world's best-loved brands. For many years, preserved railways in the UK have run Day Out With Thomas™ events where visitors can see Thomas, the Fat Controller and other characters come to life.

These events are attended by tens of thousands of visitors throughout the country every year, but as part of an ongoing commitment to make everyone's experience with Thomas to be as enjoyable as possible, controllers of the brand, HIT Entertainment Ltd. decided to centralise the ticketing for these events as opposed to the operating railways doing it themselves.

This presented a huge challenge with more than 20 railways running these events, each with their own specific requirements. They all needed to be able to view bookings for their particular events and run reports prior to and on the day to ensure smooth running.

HIT Entertainment Ltd. in turn needed someone who could provide not only the system capable of achieving this but a company that could provide full ticket agency services including processing all payments, designing, printing and distributing tickets and handling all ticket-related customer service.


Going live in 2013, the system and Wilson Digital handled over 21,000 bookings in its first year.

Buckinghamshire Railway Centre

In 2013 the railway approached us with a requirement for a new booking and ticketing system. As a railway museum their requirements were slightly different from our other heritage railway clients, but our vTicket system was still clearly the best solution for them.

Initially the system was a bolt-on to their existing information-based website but in 2014 we were approached to provide a more modern, responsive design for the site which could make use of vTicket's powerful built-in content management system. The centre now has complete control over all content on the site be it news items or events.

First Great Western

First Great Western is one of the UKs best-known rail operators. They recently decided to run a number of special services across the network that required a ticketing solution unlike anything they already had. Our vTicket solution coupled with Wilson Digital's full ticket agent service gave them the instand ability to sell tickets for these events with the minimum of work on their part. The initial events were so successful that more have been added that now include vTickets sophistocated seat allocation module which allows simple allocation of seats across the carriage sets being used.

What the client said...

The vTicket system has proved to be an excellent and very useful asset for selling charter train tickets for our business.
The team at Wilson Digital have provided excellent support throughout the process to us, customising the selling page to mimic our own branded web page.
The booking/order monitoring system has also proved to be very useful, so we can see how many people have booked onto charter train services, its easy to use and access.
The system has also proved excellent value for money and does exactly what we need to do, taking away the hassle of administering what would have otherwise been a major task.
Overall we are very pleased to have found Wilson Digital with the vTicket system and can't recommend them enough.
Matthew Cambourne - Movemements Manager, Train Planning - First Great Western Rail Ltd

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