Rail passengers can now use Amazon Alexa to buy tickets

Rail passengers can now buy train tickets by talking to a voice-activated virtual assistant.

Virgin Trains has become the first travel company to sell tickets through Amazon's Alexa-enabled devices, such as the Amazon Echo.

Passengers who own a device can purchase advance single tickets on the west and east coast routes by saying "Alexa, open Virgin Trains".

They are taken through the booking process and e-tickets are sent by email.

Giulio Montemagno, director of Amazon Pay EU, said: "Customers can now search, select and buy train tickets entirely through voice.

"This is a first-of-a-kind service that will make it easier than ever to find and book the ticket you want, even when you're busy doing something else.

"All you need to do is ask Alexa."

Previously customers could use the technology to receive train information only.

Virgin Trains is marking the development by offering free first class upgrades to passengers named Alexa travelling on its west coast routes between May 3 and June 15.

The company's chief information officer John Sullivan said it was "leading the way in digital innovation".

He said: "From finding train times online, to arriving at your destination, we want to make every journey with Virgin Trains amazing.

"Our collaboration with Amazon is a great example of this commitment to putting the customer first."