Online travel agency ebookers has announced it will offer a rail ticketing service to travellers in Europe and North America from 2012.
In partnership with SilverRail Technologies, ebookers will allow customers to buy standalone rail tickets, or train tickets as part of a package with hotel bookings and other travel products, on a single website. ebookers' offering currently includes flights, hotels, car hire and cruises.
"Rail is fast becoming a popular mode of travel and we are excited by the prospect of being able to offer it to our customers across Europe," said Tamer Tamar, president of ebookers.
"The addition of rail to our product portfolio enhances our 'book easier. travel happier' value proposition."
The rail search and booking function will be powered by SilverRail's SilverCore rail platform, which standardises the search, booking and fulfilment processes.
It is the wide-ranging variations of these processes, created by different train operators around the world, that has so far prevented travel agents from selling train tickets online.
SilverRail's integrated rail API also pulls in direct supplier connections, and enables users to buy train tickets easily, regardless of the operator, geography or currency.
ebookers' customers will be able to buy train tickets from all of SilverRail's global connections, which include the UK, US, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. More rail operators across Europe will be added to the system over time.
"There are a few one-off solutions that integrate a single rail operator, but this will be the first time multiple rail operators in multiple countries will be available through a single search," said Aaron Gowell, CEO and co-founder of SilverRail Technologies.