6 years ago

SilverRail captures $15M funding round, wants to make rail tickets as easy to book as air

One of the biggest investment rounds so far in 2012 in travel revealed today with news that SilverRail Technologies has secured a $15 million in B Series funding.

The round was led by Canaan Partners and also included previous investors Sutter Hill, Accel Partners, GrandBanks Capital and Brook Ventures.

The latest investment has a specific purpose, SilverRail says, allowing it to continue adding new rail operators to its train ticket booking system and the “development of cross-border and inter-carrier journey planning”.

News of the round marks the end of a busy 12 months for the US and UK-based company, after winning $5 million in investment in April last year, capturing its first online travel agency partner in Ebookers and unveiling its multi-country booking service in October 2011.

The total amount of money invested in SilverRail now stands at almost $30 million. The company launched in July 2010 [TLabs Showcase – SilverRail Technologies] with an initial warchest of $9.6 million.

Canaan’s involvement is the venture group’s first investment since securing its own $600 million fund.

Companies now tapped into SilverRail include AgentWare, Atriis Technologies, Dolphin Dynamics, Egencia, eGlobalfares, GetThere, KDS, Orbitz for Business and Rearden Commerce.

SilverRail CEO and co-founder, Aaron Gowell,  believes passenger rail will “increasingly dominate regional travel”, not least because of what he calls a “perfect storm” of factors coming together.

“200 mph trains replacing regional air travel; rail markets deregulating and creating competition; a 90% cleaner environmental footprint than air travel; and, $200bn a year investment in infrastructure,” he says.

This is, Gowell says, twice the investment currently being made in the commercial air industry.

NB: Train image via Shutterstock.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



  1. Wandrian

    Interesting thread – as the Founder of Wandrian I have a unique insight and knowledge of the facts – it is interesting how liberally they can be interpreted – it would be fun to post some of my old decks from 12 years ago. We were way ahaead of our time – on the proverbial bleeding edge (unnecessarily). If you throw enough money at a problem it might eventually be solved. I agree that Aaron has done a great job at fundraising – clearly a lot better than I did 🙂 “Sales solves everything” but so might deep-pocketed investors A class investors.

  2. Daniele Beccari

    I’ve dealt with SNCF, DB, SJ, NS/SNCB and Trenitalia in a past life.
    We cracked 3 of them back in 2004-2006.

    There’s only one thing that can make this vision come true: a lot of money, and a lot of patience.
    So far Aaron & team are on the right track – kudos.

    I disagree with @samdaams on the statement “If any company is going to crack this nut, it will be a European one”. On the opposite, I think only an American team can be ambitious enough to try and crack this. I touched on this specific item back in 2010:

    But granted, the guys will need to learn lots of languages quickly. Even the DB API is in German.

    • Sam Daams

      Great post Danielle, and still very relevant today; we basically seem to agree on the issues here not being the tech or anything like that 🙂 I don’t disagree with Americans being ambitious enough, but I’m pretty sure the state of train travel in the US today goes a long way towards proving that Americans don’t really have the understanding of rail that Europeans do, cultures and national interests aside (which are most certainly not going to be an ‘aside’).

      But hey, it’s a great team with a lot of dough. I hope they crack it and if I ever need to book a train ticket online I’ll be able to use their system!

    • Wandrian

      @ Daniele B – just read your excellent post – my Wandrian business plan contemplated the International opportunity only, for the reasons you outline – will be interesting to see if/when the TMCs will cede their development to a 3rd party. I always thought the value that Wandrian would add was to develop a solution faster and cheaper than others in the space could do – we did that in the beginning but got bogged down. Perhaps there are other ways to add value and Aaron has the secret sauce, will be interesting to see what $XX,000,000 buys and who can afford to use it; or; can’t afford to not use it 🙂

  3. Aaron Gowell

    Sounds like I should weigh in here, as SilverRail’s founder 🙂 A couple of comments seem to tie my business to a company called Wandrian, which closed down a few years ago. I personally founded SilverRail in early 2009 with my own money. In the early days of SilverRail, we were able to buy a couple of Wandrian’s assets after that company was liquidated and the doors shut, which helped us a tiny bit, but that’s about it. Wandrian was a retailer of leisure passes, a very different business idea than the challenge I’m trying to crack.

    Prior to founding SilverRail I built and ran National Leisure Group, a $1 billion travel tech company with 2000 employees which solved some similar problems in the cruise and vacations space. I’m happy to answer any questions by email at aaron@silverrailtech.com. Cheers!

  4. Mark Boulton

    Sam Daams – I think that takes Silverrail’s funding up to $33,849,998 with today’s announcement on top of the already announced(see http://www.sec.gov/cgi-bin/browse-edgar?CIK=0001470328&action=getcompany )
    Add to that Wandrian’s further $3.5m in Series A (http://www.crunchbase.com/company/wandrian) and I’m sure there was a larger Series B round – anyone remember?. They have some real challenges: Quno.com was a flop, Wandrian p***sed off Trenitalia (that’s the Italians out) and the French will never do a deal with Silverrail but the biggest joke of all is that “the development of cross-border and inter-carrier journey planning” is only now going to be started after what – 7 years of this platform?. But you’ve got to hand to them on the money raising front. Proving again, it’s not what you know but who you know.

    • Sam Daams

      Tell me about it… I bet that’s the same line you can read in some pitch from 7 years ago.

      I frikkin love rail, but any idiot can see the issues here are hardly tech. If any company is going to crack this nut, it will be a European one, most likely part owned by a few of the governments involved… oh, wouldn’t that be a fun bunch to be around 🙂

  5. Valyn Perini

    SilverRail founders didn’t buy the Eurail assets, only the Wandrian distribution platform. I’m not sure who’s licensed to sell Eurail passes in the States now.

    • Sam Daams

      That last sentence was obviously tongue-in-cheek 🙂 It’s still a lot of rail that needs selling… Everyone wants rail to succeed, but it seems to me, there might be bigger powers at play here than some technical implementation can overcome. Culture and government can be a right old pain in the butt…

  6. Jim Kovarik

    “200 mph trains replacing regional air travel; rail markets deregulating and creating competition; a 90% cleaner environmental footprint than air travel; and, $200bn a year investment in infrastructure,” he says

    What about soaring fuel costs (assuming trains are more fuel efficient than planes). Is rail cheaper in Europe than regional flight? or have the RyanAir’s of the world eliminated the cost benefit?

  7. Sam Daams

    If you include the money pumped into Wandrian (basically Silverrail 1.0), it’s starting to seriously add up now. That’s a lot of eurail passes that need selling to give investors their 10x investment…

  8. Sceptical corporate traveller

    So long as they have the wit to base the process on barcodes (like the airlines) this could be a really good thing. All the babble in the UK is about making such a system similar to the Oyster Card in London. Daft idea! A barcode that anyone can obtain (print at home, print at station, get on your mobile) without having to sign up to some service is far far more flexible.
    The risk is that the implementation will follow the false logic that the more technological the solution the better it is and some idiot will go for NFC or similar.


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