Having a personal assistant on hand 24/7 to check your train times and take care of your tickets would be rather nice, wouldn’t it? Sadly, hiring a private concierge is out of the question for most of us. So, how about the next best thing?

In case you haven’t heard, Virgin Trains has teamed up with Amazon to enlist the services of its smooth-talking, virtual assistant to help you book your train tickets and get answers to your train related queries.

Alexa can also find your favourite music track in instant and give you a heads up on the weekend’s weather. And now, it can even help decipher our timetables and take care of booking tickets with the sound of your own beautiful voice!

Train ticket voice search

What is Amazon Alexa exactly?

For anyone new to the concept, Amazon Alexa allows you to control many of your household smart devices using voice activation. You can ask Alexa all sorts of questions, about anything, and it can find answers. The list of commands she can understand is already impressive, and growing all the time. Amazon calls these commands “Skills”.

How does it work?

When you use Alexa, you’re actually communicating with a cloud-based service, which uses smart intuitive voice technology to search for answers and perform very specific tasks. The reason you need to start each question or request with “Alexa” is so the system knows to wake up and start listening.

What do I need to start finding trains and tickets with Alexa?

To access the Virgin Trains Alexa Skill, you’ll need to invest in a device that’s set up for the voice technology. The best way is still via an Amazon device, such as the Echo speaker, Dot or Tap.

I have my Alexa device, what next?

Getting your Virgin Trains Alexa skill up and running is free and easy. Just head to the Virgin Trains page on the Amazon website, click ‘Enable’ and she’ll be ready to help. If you want to use Alexa for ticket booking, you’ll need to click ‘Amazon Pay’ and ‘Manage Settings’, and then just flick the switch. Make sure the Voice Purchasing option is enabled too. You can do this by going to the ‘Settings’ in the Alexa App and scrolling right to the bottom.

When you’re all set, grab Alexa’s attention by saying something like: “Alexa, open Virgin Trains’. Then just supply all the details and she’ll do the legwork.

Can I check any train time with Alexa?

Yes. Although you won’t be able to use the Virgin Trains Alexa Skill to book tickets with anyone else, you can check train times for any train company across the UK, not just ours. It’s not just train times Alexa can look into for you either. She can also answer other more general Virgin train travel questions, such as “ Can I bring my dog?” (You can by the way).

I've found my train, now how do I book?

Our top tip is to give Alexa as many details as you can, all at once – stations, dates, times. The process should be much speedier that way. Don’t forget, to use your Virgin Trains railcard, if you have one.

How do I get my tickets?

We love trees, so we won’t send you a paper ticket. Once Alexa’s taken care of the booking part, we’ll email your e-ticket to whichever email address your Amazon account is registered to.

I've booked the wrong ticket with Alexa, what do I do?

If there’s been a slip of the tongue that’s left you with the wrong ticket, don’t panic! We can deal with the problem via our Alexa webpage. You’ll just need to have some details ready, so we can get it sorted. This page is also a handy place to find any Alexa-related offers and competitions, so don’t forget to pop back once in a while.

Want to see Alexa in action?

You can watch our video featuring Richard Branson putting Alexa to the test with knowledge of our trains so you can see just how useful the device can be. Getting information has never been easier!

From finding train times online to arriving at your destination, we want to make every journey with Virgin Trains amazing. Visit our website to explore a world of train travel opportunities, from day trips and city breaks to first class escapes and family adventures.

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