International Rail has launched an online training programme to encourage more agents to book train travel on the Internet.


Available on the trade site www.railagent.co.uk, the training, which went live last Friday (November 3), has been divided into six modules focusing on a different continent, products in that area and how to book them.


There is also a section showing agents how to reads maps and timetables and access previous bookings. International Rail marketing director Omid Golshan said each of the modules is split into 12 sections, so agents can dip in and out between serving clients if necessary.


He said: “Our agents’ website is a replica of our public one so it is simple to use, but there is still a perception in the trade that rail travel is difficult to book. By doing this training they will know the product and how to book.”


The training can be accessed using an ABTA number. Non-ABTA agents must register.


Golshan added International Rail, which is exhibiting at WTM for the first time, is also considering a rail expert scheme and offering incentives for the best agents.


Meanwhile, the company has increased commission from a flat 5% to a variable rate with a top 9% payable for Amtrak bookings.


Golshan said: “Amtrak wants to push business through its B2B channels because it reduces its costs so it is prepared to pay higher commission.”


He added International Rail is also working on a dedicated Amtrak trade site that will have more product information, more functionality and a dedicated commission structure.


“We already offer a dedicated consumer site for Italian Rail so this could be the start of other dedicated B2B sites,” Golshan said.


International Rail will be demonstrating the Amtrak site at WTM, ahead of its launch in January.