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Up until recently, the ease and sophistication of bookings for hotels and flights far surpassed that of ground transportation, creating a small but growing market of entrepreneurs looking to solve the unsexy problem of back-end complexity and one-step transactions.

Booking a rail ticket across several European countries and operators was once an arduous process requiring several transactions and primarily paper passes.

Rail Europe was the first to address the issue for the North American market by introducing the popular Eurail pass in 1959. Sales of the pass; however, have dropped from 100 percent to 25 percent of Rail Europe’s sales since 2006. The majority of Rail Europe’s sales today are point-to-point tickets.

Millennials today are booking closer to departure, often with an eye for mobile tickets and a specific set of cities to explore. In an effort to meet these evolving demands and simplify an, at times complex, system that requires travelers to book tickets on individual operators’ websites, a number of rail booking startups have emerged.

Rail Startups

French rail booking startup Capitaine Train announced a $6.8 million funding round. Alven Capital led the round with participation from previous investors Index Ventures and CM-CIC Capital Privé. This brings Capitaine Train’s total funding to $11.6 million since its launch in 2009.

Capitaine Train is an authorized distributor for 12 rail operators or platforms. Its website uses responsive design and it offers apps for iOS and Android. The startup claims to have more than 460,000 users and sell 5,000 train tickets each day.

London-based booking platform Loco2 launched in 2006 promising one transaction for multiple-leg journeys. It is a credited agent for nine of Europe’s largest train operators and has integrated data from the Association of Train Operating Companies in Britain to offer one-step ticketing for trips to and from any station in the UK.

It has raised $418,100 from angel investors.

SilverRail seeks to consolidate passenger rail options from all suppliers to create a global rail distribution platform for online booking sites, distribution systems, airline booking channels, and tour operators. SilverRail has raised $69 million.

GoEuro raised $27 million to accomplish an even larger goal of bringing the transportation sector, including bus, rail and car options, online and to mobile devices for a complete trip planning process. Rome2Rio has gone after a similar goal with $2.7 million in funding.

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Tags: funding, rail, rail europe

Photo credit: Capitaine Train raises $6.8 million to simplify rail booking. Capitaine Train

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