Expedia's President had identified rail as part of their expansion strategy at the PhoCusWright conference in Fort Lauderdale back in November 2015. Rail is a more frequent purchase than flights or holidays, so it can drive more loyalty and regular visits to Expedia's website.
Rail has suffered from legacy booking systems more than most sectors in travel. It will be interesting to see how far SilverRail gets integrated in to Expedia or whether it operates as stand alone business.
Ebookers/Orbitz was consolidated rapidly with few staff being retained, but other acquisitions such as Trivago and HomeAway which are different from Expedia's core offering have been allowed to operate independently.
Expedia last night agreed to acquire a majority stake in UK-based global rail distributor SilverRail Technologies for an undisclosed sum. The deal is due to be finalised by the summer pending approval from the relevant competition authority. SilverRail was established 2009 by Aaron Gowell and Will Phillipson with headquarters in London and now has offices in Boston, Stockholm and Brisbane. Already an Expedia industry partner, the company processes more than 25 million bookings a year, handles one billion online rail searches, distributes tickets for over 35 providers and serves 1,500 corporate customers. Expedia president and chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, said: “Rail is ready for an online revolution, and we’re ready to be a part of it. “Rail’s shift online is one of the fastest growing areas of innovation in the $1.3 trillion travel market, and SilverRail is powering that innovation.