Great Rail Journeys Acquires Vacations by Rail

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WHY IT RATES: The company has been acquired by a leading global brand to accelerate international growth and product expansion. —Janeen Christoff, TravelPulse Senior Writer


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Vacations By Rail (VBR), one of the largest US-based provider of escorted and independent rail holidays, has been acquired by Great Rail Journeys (GRJ), one of the world’s leading provider of escorted and independent rail holidays.

The acquisition of VBR will enhance GRJ’s position as the world’s leading escorted rail company and is a key part of its plans to expand both internationally and into new product areas, such as its newly launched unique “Rail River Cruise” range.

The combined business will present an unrivaled global portfolio of escorted rail itineraries, as well as an expanded collection of independent rail holidays to customers in both the United Kingdom and the United States. It will also provide the UK market with exclusive access to unique VBR products in North America’s breathtaking National Parks throughout the continent, including the Canadian Rockies, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, the Grand Canyon and Alaska.

“We are delighted to be growing our partnership with GRJ, building on our strong working relationship to date,” says Todd Powell, Co-founder and CEO of Vacations By Rail. “The combination of our two companies represents a significant opportunity to grow our footprint in the rail vacation sector domestically and internationally, as well as accelerate into new markets. We look forward to formally becoming part of the GRJ family.”

Established in 2004, Chicago based Vacations By Rail offers North American customers the largest selection of independent rail vacations, escorted rail tours, luxury rail journeys and custom train vacations to worldwide destinations. VBR has established a unique and differentiated product with specific expertise in the US National Parks, in particular, Yellowstone and Glacier, Alaska including Denali, the Rockies and cross-Canadian rail journeys.

York, UK-based Great Rail Journeys offers almost 400 itineraries to over 50 countries globally. Over the last five years, GRJ has performed strongly, tapping into new source markets for its rail tours including Australia and more recently the US. Furthermore, 2018 saw the launch of a new river cruise offering and its Summer 2020 program has been extended to include exclusive small group tours. Allowing customers the opportunity to combine rail travel with unique destination features, ranging from mountain-top hotels in Switzerland to a castle on a nature reserve in Scotland, the choices are plentiful.

“We are thrilled to welcome VBR to the GRJ family,” says Peter Liney, CEO of Great Rail Journeys. “This acquisition is the first step of many as we look to enhance our position as the world’s leading provider of rail vacations.” Says Peter Liney, CEO of Great Rail Journeys. “Building on recently launched programs such as “Rail River Cruise” and “Small Group Tours”, this acquisition gives us an unrivaled rail portfolio range, giving greater choice for all of our customers globally.”

VBR co-founders Todd Powell and Cole Dannewitz will join the existing GRJ Executive Team and will assume new global leadership roles following a transition period. Heather Leisman, GRJ’s current President of North America, will assume leadership of the combined North American operation.


SOURCE: Vacations by Rail press release.