Why I believe in rail travel!
My job is to make it easier for travel agencies to book rail. After almost a decade working with this, I can finally see our efforts bearing fruit: rail is picking up speed!
I joined Amadeus back in 2008 when everyone thought Rail was really old-fashioned, complicated and completely unsexy compared to the world of air travel. But, coming from Sweden where we are big rail travellers – especially if we travel to the north of Sweden where there are no airports or commute each day to major cities – and coming from a travel agency where I had been making rail reservations for corporate travellers, I found rail a pretty interesting area … and a challenge I was ready to take on.
Many people ask me why I have stuck with Rail for almost 10 years. Well, that’s an easy question – it’s never boring, always changing and it has also been really fun to start this sector from scratch at Amadeus.
But, this has also made my work seriously challenging … every little detail of the system needs to be written down and tested to get to the next phase. You need to struggle to get heard as other areas often get priority. And you need to keep abreast with developments in the market.
The pros of rail versus air
Privately, many Scandinavians use rail for leisure trips. Especially if it is cheaper than air or if they are traveling with a lot of luggage. On the business front, many companies have a clause in their travel policy saying employees need to go by rail for trips less than three hours.
Take the Stockholm to Gothenburg route, for example; it takes just three hours to get from downtown Stockholm to the centre of Gothenburg by train. If you fly, it also takes three hours – check-in one hour before flight, one hour in the air and then the commute to and from the airport. Another advantage is that employees can get some work done on the train. And, it’s more environmentally friendly than flying.
Another development in our favour is that the Swedish government recently opened up the market for other rail companies so there is competition now on the Stockholm to Gothenburg route with Hong Kong’s MTR competing with SJ’s X2000. Good news for travel budgets: More competition means lower prices.
The future’s bright
So, I believe rail is going to grow more in the future. Also given the growth in passenger traffic and promised investments in the sector.
In my next blog post, I’ll tell you more about our new RailDisplay solution which will be on the market in 2018. One clue – it’s going to make it MUCH easier to book air and rail tickets on one integrated system.
About the author
Anette Christiansson joined Amadeus Scandinavia in 2008 as our Product Manager for Rail, when rail was seen as something “old and complicated.” She is based at our Stockholm office and works as the “bridge” connecting the main rail providers in Scandinavia with our travel agency customers.