By Daniel Hunter

Online train ticket booking company, Trainline, will float on the London Stock Exchange in a move which is expected to value the business at around £500m.

The Trainline, which started as a division of Virgin Rail in 1997 selling tickets from a call centre, is expected to float in February.

The service made £978.1m worth of sales in 2014 and it says its app has been downloaded 7.4 million times.

Around 25% of the business will be sold by its private equity owners Exponent, Harbourvest and Northwestern Mutual Life Assurance. Exponent also has the option to sell a further 15% of its stake.

Clare Gilmartin, chief executive of Trainline, said: "We are witnessing continued strong growth in rail and, having experienced first-hand the transformative effect of online and mobile in other e-commerce markets, I am hugely excited by the opportunity that the fast-developing online rail market offers."

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