Loco2, a travel agency startup focused on European rail, is now powering a train ticket booking tool branded Guardian Trains on the Guardian newspaper's website.
Loco2, which Tnooz recently profiled, has built a tool that shows users the carbon dioxide emission reduction of taking the train on a particular route versus flying the same route. Loco2 is partly a pun on "low CO2," referring to the lower carbon emissions left by train travel.
The Guardian's readership, which includes a large contingent of environmentally concerned Britons, might particularly find the tool appealing.
This partnership is Loco2's biggest since January, when it became the first UK startup to let users purchase tickets online for the German state railway Deutsche Bahn.
The move could vault Loco2 into a more competitive position vis-a-vis Capitaine Train, a rival startup currently focused on the domestic French market (and which Tnooz has recently written about).
Loco2 covers thousands of routes and most fare classes.
Some examples: Its coverage of Germany (meaning the breadth of tickets that it sells for routes that are point-to-point within Germany or that either originate or terminate in Germany) are the most thorough and seamless.
Ditto for Eurostar. Loco2 can sell self-print tickets for DB and Eurostar for no fees.
Its Thalys offerings are stellar. Its French coverage is nearly as solid, though it does have a few gaps in the fare types and routes that are offered across the complex sprawl of SNCF sub-brands, products and fare types.
When it comes to Spanish rail (RENFE), Italian rail (Trenitalia), a major Dutch rail line (NSHispeed) and some other operators, Loco2's coverage is good but, again, its contracts don't allow it -- yet -- to sell all fare classes.
Its connectivity to these railway operators can sometimes have hiccups, at least according to Tnooz's tests.
The hiccups reflect the complexity of how the railway companies distribute different products from their various sub-brands internationally. Loco2 says it is working with the railways to patch the connectivity issues.
If the Guardian partnership drives a lot of booking volume, it may enhance Loco2's negotiating hand in cutting business deals with many of Europe's state railways, enabling the startup to add a broader portfolio of rail products.
The Guardian is the first UK newspaper to offer European rail booking.