SNCF subsidiary Voyages-SNCF.com has bought online train ticket retailer Loco2.
Co-founder Kate Andrews said that the investment will accelerate the company’s development as it has struggled to keep pace with competitors’ spending.
She added that the company had encountered “inevitable bumps in the road” as it has grown but reaffirmed the company’s commitment to simplifying rail booking and an “obsession” with customer service.
Katie and fellow co-founder Jamie Andrews – her brother – will remain at the company, which itself will stay independent.
Katie said: “It’s been almost a decade since we dreamt up the idea for Loco2, so we are thrilled that we have been able to put our business on track to become a major player in the industry.”
Jamie added: “Over the past few years the dynamic of the European rail market has shifted.
“In 2016, fellow start-up Captain Train was purchased by Trainline, itself backed by US private equity juggernaut, KKR (who bought Trainline for around £425m in 2015). We’ve also seen the entrance of GoEuro, backed by a whopping $146m investment from Goldman Sachs and others.
“We’re proud of what we’ve built with relatively little (we’ve had around £1.8m investment to date), but there’s a limit to what we can achieve with such resources.”
The service was initially set up in 2006 by Katie and Jamie Andrews and currently sells tickets in 25 European countries on behalf of 37 rail operators.
In 2016 it recorded £15.5 million in sales, a 40 per cent increased from 2015, according to SNCF.
It focuses on rail travel as a low-carbon alternative to air travel, hence the name low (lo) carbon dioxide (co2).