A Hampshire based business has secured £250,000 of funding from the Enterprise M3 (EM3) Funding Escalator, managed by The FSE Group. The EM3 expansion loan will be used for further product development and to create up to eight new jobs.
International Rail, based in Ropley, near Winchester, has been delivering market leading web-based B2B rail booking solutions to its travel management company and tour operator clients for over 25 years. During that time, its team have built strong relationships with most of the world’s major rail networks, allowing it to offer a search and book service for almost any point-to-point journey in the world.
With technology acting as a key driver since the company’s inception, International Rail has developed 1track, a proprietary software platform through which it can offer the world’s largest selection of rail journeys and passes. A white label offering, 1track allows International Rail’s clients to offer the service directly to their own customers with an easy to navigate dashboard and integrated payment options. It is also playing a key role in the move towards sustainable travel by providing CO2 emissions data reporting.
Having many leading travel companies as its clients already, International Rail has recently won a contract as preferred rail booking supplier for the world’s largest travel management company. This presents a huge opportunity for the business and the EM3 funding will help to ensure International Rail can increase capacity and push forward with further platform developments, delivering a seamless service at a time of growth.
CEO and Founder, Rod Maton, said: “Seeking finance for growth based on a future contract can be challenging, especially when recent trading has been impacted by a global pandemic. Without this funding our 1track platform would see a slower global roll out with developments implemented in stages. Thanks to the more far-sighted approach taken by FSE and the EM3 loan scheme, we are now in a position to expedite our growth strategy and quickly deliver the world’s leading rail booking system, enabling clients to see a full sustainability dashboard and make greener choices accordingly.
International rail travel has gained huge momentum over the past few years with cross-border rail travel now estimated to be in excess of £3bn and growing. By comparison, forecasts show that air travel is set to shrink by 10% over the next decade. Driving this are long term shifts in attitude to climate change at governmental, corporate, and individual level coupled with a more innovative and competitive rail landscape across Europe.
Cheryl Weeks, Head of Funds – South East, at The FSE Group, commented: “Over the past two decades and more, Rod and his team have established networks across the global rail sector resulting in contracts with 90% of the world’s rail companies. This, together with the intellectual property it owns and its unbeatable reputation for outstanding customer service, places International Rail at the very forefront of its sector. This agile team is perfectly positioned take advantage of the growth opportunity available and we look forward to continuing to support them on this journey.”
Sue Littlemore, Joint Managing Director at the Enterprise M3 LEP said: “It’s fantastic to see the LEP play an important role in helping International Rail stay on track with its ambitious growth plans, allowing the business to develop its products and create new jobs in the EM3 area.”
“Technology is part of the way ahead to improving rail services that are efficient, environmentally sustainable and fit for the future and International Rail meets the EM3 vision to support a low carbon, high growth economy perfectly.”
The Enterprise M3 Funding Escalator is a £10million initiative funded by Enterprise M3 LEP. The escalator includes an expansion loan scheme, a short-term trade loan scheme and an equity growth fund and provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding between £50,000 and £300,000 for activities that will deliver high-growth and employment opportunities across the EM3 area.
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