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Real travelers go by rail

Real travelers go by rail

Crossing through Europe all by train. Loco2 a new smart travel concept. But what’s new? What’s the story?

I had an interview with one of the co-founder Anila Babla. I’m always pleased to see fellow entrepreneurs starting of meaningful initiatives.

So here’s the interview with Anila:

What’s Loco2 about (in elevator pitch format: short and pointy)/ What does it offer for the conscious world traveler?

Loco2’s mission is to make booking a train in Europe as easy as booking a flight. We are the first independent, non-rail operator owned company to sell train tickets to destinations in Europe. Our focus is on the customer and creating an intuitive user experience that confounds people’s expectations. We’re always adding to the booking experience – our users can choose their seat on TGV Duplex trains, print selected tickets at home, make multiple ticket purchases at once and see the carbon saved by taking the train instead of flying. And we’re working on more top secret features at the moment. Loco2 offers a simple, green, and adventurous alternative to short-haul flights in Europe.

    •    What’s your story and how did it emerge into Loco2?

When Kate (co-founder of Loco2) was at university she entered a social innovation competition and was inspired to believe that her idea for Loco2, a “low CO2” travel company, was worth pursuing. But her itchy feet nearly stopped the idea in its tracks as she upped sticks and circumnavigated the world by land and sea for two whole years. Luckily, Jamie kept his feet on dry land and took on the challenge of transforming a fledgling Loco2 into a business.

Anyone who has tried to book anything but the simplest train journey in Europe will know that it can be a challenge, and many people end up on a flight despite their best efforts. It is this challenge that spurred Loco2 into existence. What began as a one-stop low carbon travel shop has since been transformed into a travel site with a passion for trains – a place to seek train travel advice, inspiration and book tickets.
Until last year, brother and sister duo, Kate and Jamie, divided their time between Loco2 and their day jobs. But in 2011, having spent many months prototyping rail booking software with software developer Eugene Bolshakov, they received their first round of seed funding, were able to dedicate themselves to Loco2 full-time and start building the great team we have today. The software behind the site is constantly being updated with new features, and thanks to feedback from our loyal early users we won’t be resting on our laurels any time soon. Check it out and let us know what you think!
•    What are important values of Loco2?

Loco2 is passionate about creating a culture where everybody takes responsibility for building a sustainable future. This may seem a bold statement from such a small company, but our environmental ethos is what started Loco2 and it’s an important part of the passion that drives us to make travelling by train in Europe easy. By making continental train travel more accessible, easier to book and price competitive, we hope to make green travel choices a more realistic alternative to flying. Our site is about providing the inspiration and tools to do that. We also value simplicity and to that end, we have created an easy uncomplicated booking process. Coverage for all routes is a methodical process since train data isn’t readily available for all train journeys. In this regard we are also huge advocates of the open data movement and we’re pushing for more transparent data on trains, Europe wide.

•    Are there already awesome/remarkable anecdotes/stories of travels?

As a team we have own own individual stories of train travel and ‘slow travel’. Kate went around the world by train and by cargo ship, spending a whopping 23 days a sea with 40 Russian sailors; (I,) Anila travelled across India including taking a narrow gauge ‘toy’ train into the Himalayan foothills, to Simla, the former British summer capital in India (and home of several distant relatives!). And Jamie has just returned from an epic adventure to Astrakhan, on the Caspian sea in Russia, where he met long-term Loco2 software engineer, and legend in his own time, Eugene Bolshakov (Eugene has worked for Loco2 since 2010 but this was their first face to face meeting!). We can say first hand that this is our favoured way of travelling – seeing the lay of the land, watching cultures change from your window seat, and engaging with locals and fellow travellers along the way. This is the romance and the fun of train travel, and sharing these experiences is what Loco2 is all about.
Thank you Anila for sharing your awesome story!

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