York-based rail holiday firm acquires American firm Vacations by Rail

Great Rail Journeys

Rail holiday specialist Great Rail Journeys has signed a deal to acquire Vacations By Rail, which provides a similar service in America.

The acquisition of VBR is a key part of Great Rail Journeys’ plans to expand internationally and into new product areas, such as its newly launched unique “Rail River Cruise” range.

Peter Liney, CEO of Great Rail Journeys, said: “This acquisition is the first step of many as we look to enhance our position as the world’s leading rail holiday company. At a time of market uncertainty, it signifies our scale and ambition within the market and at one stroke makes us market leader for escorted rail holidays in the USA.”

“Building on recently launched programmes such as “Rail River Cruise” and “Small Group Tours”, this deal will present the customer with added benefits and an unrivalled rail portfolio range, giving greater choice for all of our customers. From product expansion to investment in technology and strengthening both our escorted and independent travel business, the combination of our two businesses is very exciting for us all.”

Todd Powell, Co-founder and CEO of Vacations By Rail, said: “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.”

York-based Great Rail Journeys employs more than 150 people and offers almost 400 itineraries to over 50 countries. Established in 2004, Vacations By Rail employs a team of 30 and offers North American customers the largest selection of independent rail vacations, escorted rail tours, luxury rail journeys and custom train vacations to destinations in North America.  VBR has established a unique and differentiated product with specific expertise in the US National Parks, Alaska, the Rockies and cross-Canadian rail journeys.

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