Great Rail Journeys Acquires Vacation By Rail


Great Rail Journeys (GRJ) has acquired Vacations By Rail (VBR).

The merger will offer a global portfolio of escorted rail itineraries, along with an expanded collection of independent rail holidays, to UK and U.S. clients. It is part of a broader initiative to take GRJ further into the international market and into new product areas, like the “Rail River Cruise” range, the company said.

The UK market will get exclusive access to VBR products in North America’s National Parks, including the Canadian Rockies, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, the Grand Canyon and Alaska.


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VBR co-founders Todd Powell and Cole Dannewitz will become part of the existing GRJ Executive Team and take on new global leadership roles following a transition period. Heather Leisman, GRJ’s current president of North America, will lead the combined North American operation.

Established in 2004, Chicago-based Vacations By Rail has a collection of independent rail vacations, escorted rail tours, luxury rail journeys and custom train vacations to worldwide destinations. UK-based Great Rail Journeys offers nearly 400 itineraries in over 50 countries globally.

Notable itineraries include a tour of India’s “Golden Triangle,” exploring the Swiss Alps on the Glacier Express and a journey across Africa from Dar es Salaam to Cape Town. GRJ has been tapping into new source markets for its rail tours, including Australia and, more recently, the U.S. 

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