It makes it very difficult for me to book online and I end up buying the tickets from the machine itself

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  • 3
    To be fair, there are very few cases when you can get a better deal from a website than from a machine, when you are purchasing a ticket for same day travel. There are exceptions because the machines don't sell most kinds of complex tickets, but then again neither do the websites.
    – Calchas
    Oct 16, 2016 at 16:29
  • 9
    The answer is likely to be a boring technical synchronization concern. The back end for these systems is often surprisingly backwards. Probably the ticket machines only get an updated list of what tickets to print once per hour.
    – Calchas
    Oct 16, 2016 at 16:31
  • 12
    They do not require you to wait 2 hours. They are simply teeling you: email does not provide any guarantee about instant delivery, so it may happen that it takes up to two hours. Then 99.9% of the time you receive the ticket in 5 minutes... Note that the email system doesn't provide any kind of guarantee about delivery, which means that there are situations where due to issues with the servers/connections the email could have been dropped altogether and will never arrive... if you want to be sure of delivery (and authentication/integrity) you have to use certified email
    – Bakuriu
    Oct 16, 2016 at 21:05
  • 7
    The title of this question is about a ticket order delivered "to the machine", where there are certainly system delays to contend with, as @Calchas notes. But the screenshot seems to be for Virgin's eticket-by-email service, which doesn't involve dealing with a ticket issuing machine at the station - you just get a ticket sent to you to print or put on a phone. Which are you asking about? Oct 16, 2016 at 21:30
  • 4
    Perhaps more important - why is the second person in the queue a space alien wearing a wig?!? Oct 16, 2016 at 23:34

1 Answer 1


All they are doing there is setting an expectation, there is no specific meaning, technical or otherwise, to 'two hours' other than perhaps an internal calculation that 99.99% of e-tickets are issues within two hours.

They do this to hopefully prevent people from calling 5-10 minutes after making the booking asking where their tickets are. Calls are relatively expensive to handle and a lot of effort is put into making them unnecessary.

Maybe tickets are issued in batch, maybe not, but it really doesn't matter. If you don't get your ticket within 121 minutes, there's probably something wrong.

Determining and setting an expectation like this (SLA) is very common and in no way unique to train tickets.

  • 10
    Part of my job involves technical administration of email servers. I concur with this answer, especially the first paragraph. The email is likely sent out immediately but in times of high server load emails are often given low priority which can cause them to be delayed and sit temporarily in a mail queue. The two hour estimate should be seen as a disclaimer for the unlikely event where your email takes more than a couple of minutes
    – Darren H
    Oct 16, 2016 at 18:53
  • I've done my share of SLA analysis as well.
    – DTRT
    Oct 16, 2016 at 19:22
  • +1 to this. As someone in the field, this is absolutely correct. Its not always some nefarious technology headache - often it is business setting expectations for customers in order to have a standard against which to measure efficiency and performance; and as the efficiency/process changes, so does the standard against which the average is calculated. Oct 17, 2016 at 4:59
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    Minor typo: e-tickets are issue(d) within two hours Oct 17, 2016 at 5:13
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    2hr is long enough to start up the backup server and process all outstanding transactions if a server should fail..... Not having to have "HOT" 24/7 operations, so allowing severs to be rebooted etc saves a LOT of money. Oct 17, 2016 at 8:34

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