Loco2

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Loco2
Locos2 logo.svg
Loco2 Logo
Founded 2006
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Founder(s) Jamie Andrews, Kate Andrews
Industry Travel
Travel technology
Products Train tickets, mobile app
Services Online travel agency
Website loco2.com

Loco2 is an online booking service for train travel in the UK and Europe. It sells tickets, without booking fees, through its website and via its smartphone app which is available on iOS and Android platforms.[1][2]

It was founded in 2006 by brother and sister Jamie and Kate Andrews,[3] and started trading in 2012 from its headquarters in London.

Functionality and booking capability[edit]

Loco2 provides coverage for approximately 12 countries in Europe and is integrated with multiple rail operators, including ATOC in the United Kingdom, SNCF in France, Deutsche Bahn in Germany, Renfe in Spain and both Italo and Trenitalia in Italy.[4] The company sells fares for all major high-speed rail services in Europe, such as TGV, ICE, Eurostar, AVE, Thalys, Frecciarossa, and Italo.[5][6]

A 2014 Business Traveler article about Loco2 noted that booking rail tickets directly through Europe's rail operators often leads to inconsistent user experiences including credit card rejection issues, limited access to discount fares, and complicated navigation experiences.[7] A similar TechCrunch article characterized the booking systems as "fiendishly complex."[8][8][9]

The company's stated aim is to enable "simple, fast rail booking in the UK and across Europe".[10] Loco2 also states a commitment to customer support using multi-channel support tools.[11] Independent customer reviews of the service via Trustpilot give Loco2 an average rating of 9.3 out of 10 stars.[12]

The company's name is both an abbreviation of the phrase "low CO2" as well as a reference to locomotive travel.[13] Loco2 exclusively focuses on rail travel, as a low carbon alternative to air travel, due to rail travel's ability to reduce a traveller's carbon footprint by up to 90 percent.[8][14]

Loco2 acts as an alternative to traditional rail booking systems by aggregating multiple reservation systems into its service, allowing users to search for and book fares across multiple countries within one transaction.[9] Loco2 users can access standard rate fares as well as the discounted fares associated with each operator, such as Renfe's Turista Promo,[15][16] Deutsche Bahn's London Sparpreis and Europa Sparpreis,[17] as well as SNCF's Prems fares and ATOC's range of discounted Advance Fares.[18]

Companies like Loco2 are expected to expand their market share as the European Commission continues efforts to open the European rail market to increased competition.[9][13][19] Loco2’s progress takes place against the backdrop of regulatory initiatives such as TAP-TSI.[20]

History[edit]

Loco2 was founded in 2006 by Kate Andrews during her final year as an Undergraduate at Sussex University. The goal initially was to launch a low carbon travel company, specialising in grounded travel. As the company’s focus moved to European rail specifically, she was joined by her brother Jamie Andrews and Technical Director Jon Leighton, a leading contributor to Ruby on Rails.[9]

From 2011 onwards, Loco2 began to integrate with the booking systems of Europe’s major rail operators, which have been historically isolated not only from one another but also from third party services.[9][13]

Locos2 logo.svg
Loco2 app logo.png

As of 2015, Loco2 is integrated with the following rail operator booking systems in Europe:

[7][8][9]

In 2013 Loco2 partnered with The Guardian to launch "Guardian Trains," a Guardian-branded version of Loco2's train ticket booking application.[21][22]

In 2014 Loco2 added Vimal Khosla, previously a board member of lastminute.com, to its board.[13]

In 2016, the company underwent a full redesign, updating their logo, colourway and user platform.[23] It also released its first smartphone apps,[1] with an iOS version launched in April[24] and an Android version available from July.[25] For its apps, Loco2 launched an icon-only version of the company logo, suitable for iOS devices.[26]

Ownership and funding[edit]

Loco2 was founded as a private company, limited by shares. Its owners include founders Jamie and Kate Andrews as well as members of their family and friends. Additional investment has been secured from individuals and consortiums of angel investors. Shareholders include Ed Gillespie, founder of sustainability strategy and creative agency, Futerra, and author of Only Planet, which documents a low-carbon journey around the world.[27]

The company received a total of £1 million [8][14] in funding over a number of investment rounds from private angel investors.[8] As part of its investment raising activities the company was featured on the BBC News website in a piece focusing on the "real life Dragons' Den".[28]

However, on July 5, 2017 that it had been bought by SNCF’s Voyages-sncf.com business. Loco2 co-founders Kate and Jamie Andrews will remain with the business they launched in 2012. Kate Andrews said it would continue to operate as an independent company, but the new owner would provide the investment needed to develop its search and booking technology while strengthening Voyages-sncf.com's position in the European online rail ticket retailing sector. Jamie Andrews explained the reasoning further by saying: ‘Keeping pace with our competitors' spending posed a significant challenge for our small business, and it became clear that we would need to contemplate big changes’, he explained. ‘We faced a stark choice: raise financing from a large institutional investor and roll the dice on future progress, or find a buyer for the company.’[29]

Call for open data[edit]

In a 2011 Wired Magazine article, Loco2's CEO and founder Jamie Andrews called for rail operators to provide "better (and fairer) access to rail data."[30] Andrews argued that a move to standardise data across Europe's different operators would serve to protect passenger rights.[30]

In 2013 the company held a “hack day” at Google Campus in London, showcasing what could be done with open rail data in the UK.[31]

In 2017 co-founder Kate Andrews wrote an article in the Telegraph's Business Reporter supplement entitled 'How mobile tech has transformed the way we travel'. In the article she illustrated how companies such as Looc2 have made booking a train almost as easy as booking a flight by creating what is in effect a single European Rail platform.[30] Andrews[30][30]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Lomas, Nathasha (27 April 2016), Europe by rail’ booking platform, Loco2, finally gets an app, TechCrunch, retrieved 2 November 2016, Pan-European train travel booking website Loco2 has launched its first smartphone app, letting iOS users book and pay for trips via a dedicated app. 
  2. ^ Andrews, Jamie (12 July 2016), Introducing Loco2 for Android, Loco2, retrieved 2 November 2016, The Android app has the same sweet features as our iPhone app, including powerful search functionality through our clean, simple interface, and mobile tickets for thousands of routes. It's free to download. 
  3. ^ Andrews, Kate (10 August 2016), Loco2 story, Loco2, retrieved 21 October 2016, Loco2 was launched in 2012 by a team of committed train travellers, led by brother and sister Jamie and Kate Andrews. 
  4. ^ Cross, Tony (7 November 2013), The right track, Condé Nast Traveler, retrieved 21 March 2014 
  5. ^ Collins, Katie (12 November 2013), Loco2.com incorporates pan-European train travel into a single booking, Wired.co.uk, retrieved 21 March 2014 
  6. ^ Let the train take the strain to Spain, A Place in the Sun, 17 February 2014, retrieved 21 March 2014 
  7. ^ a b McWhirter, Alex (2 November 2014), Loco2 to sell Spanish rail tickets, Business Traveler, retrieved 21 March 2014 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Lomas, Natasha (4 November 2014), Pan-European Train Travel To Get Easier As Loco2 Prepares To Hook Into U.K.’s Rail Booking System, TechCrunch, retrieved 21 March 2014, ...having a vested interest in funnelling travellers cash through their own (typically fiendishly complex) booking systems. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Gregory, Mark (12 November 2013), New pan-European rail booking service launched, BBC News, retrieved 21 March 2014, Start-up firm Loco2.com is offering the service in an attempt to make cross-border European rail trips cheaper and easier to organise. 
  10. ^ Andrews, Jamie (20 October 2016), Loco2 homepage, Loco2, retrieved 20 October 2016 
  11. ^ Triplett-Lentz, Emily (18 August 2016), Omnichannel vs multichannel support/, Helpscout, retrieved 20 October 2016, London-based Loco2 consolidates and simplifies the booking process for trains in Europe — they use Help Scout’s help desk tool, as well as Docs for their knowledge base. 
  12. ^ Trustpilot (20 October 2016), Loco2 reviews, Trustpilot, retrieved 20 October 2016, Excellent 9.2 from 0 - 10, 12747 reviews on Trustpilot 
  13. ^ a b c d Lomas, Nathasha (17 February 2014), Pan-European Rail Travel Booking Service, Loco2, Gets Renfe On Board For Full Spanish Coverage, TechCrunch, retrieved 21 March 2014, Loco2 exclusively focuses on rail travel, having an eco-travel ethos — its name is shorthand for low CO2 
  14. ^ a b Eco-Travel site Loco2 expands into Spain, Green Entrepreneurship, 18 February 2014, retrieved 21 March 2014, Taking the train instead of plane can reduce your carbon footprint with as much as 90 percent. 
  15. ^ Collins, Katie (5 February 2014), Loco2.com adds Spain to its pan-European rail-booking service, Wired.co.uk, retrieved 21 March 2014 
  16. ^ Bryant, Martin (18 February 2014), Loco2 is an increasingly great place to book European train travel, The Next Web, retrieved 21 March 2014 
  17. ^ Andrews, Kate (27 July 2016), German train tickets - ticket types & discounts, Loco2, retrieved 2 November 2016 
  18. ^ Paris to Turin by train (TGV), loco2, 2014, retrieved 21 March 2014 
  19. ^ Baker, Vicky (30 August 2013), End of the Thomas Cook European 'bible': online alternatives, The Guardian, retrieved 21 March 2014, Loco2.com, who partner with Guardian Trains, is also riding the same wave; both companies have been able to build their services after the EU took action to allow more competition in the European rail market. 
  20. ^ "European Commission adopts TAP TSI timetable and fare standards". Railway Gazette. 6 May 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  21. ^ O'Neil, Sean (14 April 2013), Loco2 powers new Guardian Trains booking tool, tnooz, retrieved 22 March 2014 
  22. ^ Andrews, Kate (15 April 2013), Introducing Guardian Trains – Loco2 partners with the Guardian, Loco2, retrieved 22 March 2014 
  23. ^ Connell, Sean (22 April 2016), A brand new design for Loco2, RMDY, retrieved 2 November 2016, As an evolution of the old brand, the new logo and colourways selected moves Loco2 forward and allowed us to confidently move forward with a redesign. 
  24. ^ Calder, Simon (9 May 2016), Travel Agenda: where to go and what to know in travel this week, Independent, retrieved 2 November 2016, Loco2 is now available as a free iPhone app. The app has the same search functionality as the rail booking website, with a simple interface for making reservations, and the ability to download and store mobile tickets. 
  25. ^ Loco2 (12 July 2016), Introducing Loco2 for Android, retrieved 27 April 2017 
  26. ^ Loco2 AppStore (26 April 2017), iTunes: Loco2: Europe by train made easy, iTunes, retrieved 26 April 2017 
  27. ^ Webb, Flemmich (12 June 2014), Only Planet by Ed Gillespie, book review: Allow world's flaws and beauty to seep into your soul, Independent, retrieved 13 November 2016, telling of his low-carbon journey around the world – he doesn't fly. 
  28. ^ Humphrey, Andrew (12 February 2013), Angel investors: The real-life Dragons' Den, BBC News, retrieved 21 March 2014, Jamie Andrews said securing investment via an equity stake was the only way his young company could raise funds 
  29. ^ SNCF buys online ticket railtor Loco2:, Railway Gazette 
  30. ^ a b c d e Andrews, Jamie (15 June 2011), Opinion: Making the case to open up European rail data, Wired.co.uk, retrieved 21 March 2014, ...to enable better (and fairer) access to rail data  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "andrews" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  31. ^ Andrews, Jamie (29 October 2012), Building apps with rail data, The Guardian, retrieved 21 March 2014