Trains now have a seat - with plenty of legroom and great views - at the top table of B2B and B2C travel tech following Expedia Inc's purchase of a majority stake in SilverRail.
Factor in what's happening to rail infrastructure and distribution across Asia, and it's clear why Expedia - increasingly seeing itself as a tech company - made a move for a rail tech specialist.
In Europe, rail in a B2B context is a vital component of the multimodal sector. But for consumers, the rail proposition is not that complicated - it is a great way to travel.
One of the most familiar travel concepts, in Europe at least, is Interrailing, the pass which gives travellers access to (almost the) entire European rail network. The InterRail product is owned by Eurail, although the term has entered the vernacular to describe any multi-destination trip where rail is the means of getting from A to B (and C, then back to B, onto D, etc).
Of course, planning this type of trip is now easier than before thanks to tech. Most conversations around tech now touch on data, perhaps in the same way as most rail trips around Europe touch on Prague.
That is one of the datapoints revealed by InterrailPlanner.com, an independent business which includes InterRail as one of its affiliate partners. People can use the site to plan a trip and then click on a link to purchase the pass. It can also help travellers book accommodation at their stop-offs via affiliate deals with hostelworld and booking.com.
Its Interrail Insights report looks at nearly 1,800 trips planned on the site. Its co-founder Jack Cowell thinks the Interrail specific data here is of value to other suppliers in the travel ecosystem, as well as Interrail itself.
"Tourist boards can understand how Interrailers interact with speciﬁc countries and cities; hostels can develop marketing strategies and offerings targeted at Interrailers based on lengths of stays and probable city combinations while Interrail itself can consider new pass conﬁgurations."
As mentioned above, Prague is the most Interrailed city, included in two out of three trips. It is also featured in five of the top ten city pairs and all of the top six three-city combinations.
On average, Interrailers visit 6.3 countries and hang out in 8.8 cities, staying on average 2.4 nights in a city.
The very specific travel patterns of Interrailers does create some interesting openings, and the data from InterrailPlanner.com is a useful starting point.
Click here to see the report.
Related reading:End of an era – InterRail planning finds a home online (March16)