On-Site: Rail Europe Rockets Forward With New Plans for 2012

GENEVA, Switzerland -- On day 1 of Switzerland Travel Mart, Travel Agent sat down with J. Peter Rahaman, vice president of sales for Rail Europe to discover what's new with the European transportation mega giant.

According to Rahaman, there is much for agents to get excited about with Rail Europe in the coming months. First up, the company has established a new direct connect with the British rail system, allowing agents to earn extra money by selling e-tickets. Clients can pick up the e-tickets on departure at the same price as it would be if you bought that ticket in Britain, thus developing a new revenue stream for travel agents.

Similarly, Rail Europe is in the process of developing direct connect to Spain, offering online ticketing, schedules and fare. "Over the next 10 years, Spain will have more high speed rails than any other country in Europe," says Rahaman.

Heading across the border into France, Rail Europe has developed a new France Pass Premium service, which provides concierge service to rail travelers in France. The pass costs 20 percent more for the client, however it entitles them to complete concierge service, including everything from assistance in booking theater tickets, to restaurant reservations and more.

Rahaman is most excited about Rail Europe's new collaboration with Germany's train system, Deutsche Bahn. By 2013 at the latest, the Deutsche Bahn system will run through the Chunnel, the undersea passageway linking Calais, France with Folkestone, England. It is one of the most popular forms of transportation between London and Paris. With Deutsche Bahn opening up access to the Chunnel, passengers now have a choice which rail system they choose to use for this journey.

Rail Europe's collaboration with Deutsche Bahn also opens up all of Scandanavia and Eastern Europe to travelers. According to Rahaman, Eastern Europe is the next frontier for North American travelers. "In my personal view, the destinations where we see the most traffic are France, Italy, Britain Spain, Germany and Switzerland," Rahaman tells Travel Agent. "I think Croatia is a country that will get a lot of interest. It really is the Old Europe, has good prices, its infrastructure is improving and it is safe. Anywhere in Eastern Europe is a blossoming destination."

Rahaman also gave us this teaser: Agents who sell Italy ought to be on the lookout in 2012 for a brand new private railroad system that will be focused on modern technology and customer service.

Visit www.agent.raileurope.com.

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