The Germany company that has spent the last five years trying to make bus travel sexy again announced today it has launched a new version of its service for trains.
Around Europe, the lime-green FlixBus fleet has become ubiquitous thanks to its low fair, digital booking, and buses packed with amenities like movies and wifi. The parent company, FlixMobility, has now created FlixTrain, which seeks to bring many of those same features the train industry.
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“We looked at trains, and we did our homework in terms of how it works, what its customers are,” said Jochen Engert, FlixBus co-founder and Managing Director. “And ultimately we believe the train is just a larger bus.”
FlixBus works by partnering with local bus operators and plugging them into the company’s scheduling and ticketing system, in addition to creating the brand and services on the environmentally-friendly buses. As the bus industry deregulated across Europe, many of the buses were operated by small businesses that didn’t have the resources to invest in digital systems and marketing, Engert said.
Germany has deregulated its train system, and other European countries either have already done so, or in the process of considering it. The company will follow the same model by partnering with local train operators while hoping to use its FlixBus brand and notoriety to drive customers to the new rail service.
There have been private train companies that tried to compete,” he said. “The struggled because they couldn’t create brand awareness and couldn’t fill the trains.”
For the moment, FlixTrain is just available in Germany. Official service starts March 24 with a route of Hamburg to Dusseldorf to Cologne. The company’s goal is to have 28 destinations in Germany by the end of 2018.
The new service comes just as FlixBus is preparing for its U.S. launch later this year, likely starting on the West coast.