Loco2 sold to Voyages SNCF

Voyages SNCF has bought UK-based pan-European rail booking service Loco2 for an undisclosed sum.

Loco2 will continue to operate as a standalone brand with its co-founders, Kate and Jamie Andrews, staying with the business.

Compared with its peers in the rail booking space, Loco2 has received only modest levels of funding, tapping family, friends and angel investors rather than taking the private equity or venture capital route. Jamie Andrews noted that it has raised £1.8 million since launch and that the sale to Voyages SNCF represents “a healthy return for [Loco2] investors”.

Captain Train, for example, was bought by KKR-backed Trainline over a year ago for a reported $189 million. GoEuro picked up $70 million Series C funding in October, bringing the total raised to $145 million. Expedia Inc’s purchase of SilverRail earlier this year is another sign not only of the scale of some of the businesses in rail tech and distribution, but also the increasing presence of rail within the online travel sector.

However, he acknowledged that “keeping pace with our competitors’ spending posed a significant challenge for our small business” and that Loco2 opted for a sale rather than “roll the dice on future progress” by taking institutional investments.”

He was also candid enough to admit that changes are inevitable. While there are no plans to change anything at the moment and Loco2 is set to continue as a standalone independent brand, the founders are aware that they will no longer have the final say over decisions. He said:

“Too often founders claim that nothing will change after acquisition, knowing full well that it cannot be guaranteed.”

Voyages-SNCF.com is owned by the French rail operator SNCF and is a de facto online travel agent, one of the biggest in France. It has seven other country-specific sites, selling European rail tickets and passes, hotels, attractions and tours and activities, either standalone or as a package. SNCF has worked with Loco2 since 2012 and was the first rail operator to sell inventory through Loco2.

In a statement, Kate Andrews explained that the two teams would work together, with Loco2 “bringing new technology and talent to the Voyages-sncf.com Group, with Loco2 set to work alongside their other brands.”

Related reading and background from Tnooz:

TicketClever sells 20% stake to rail and bus operating giant Stagecoach (June17)
Rome2rio ramps up direct booking options (May17)
Loco2 adds euro payments, plans international presence (Dec16)


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