For years, Germans have had little choice in rail providers as Deutsche Bahn sits quite comfortably with over 5.5 million daily passengers and a 99-percent market share in long-distance train travel. Trying to go head to head with Deutsche Bahn would be a laughable attempt, but for Locomore, going after the train giant’s turf isn’t about market share, but about providing an alternative that is cheaper, more efficient and environment friendly.
Locomore turned to StartNext, a crowdfunding site similar to Kickstarter, to raise the funds needed to launch their first train route from Stuttgart to Berlin, making stops in Hannover and Frankfurt along the way. Their maiden voyage went off without a hitch on Wednesday, showing off that German efficiency by pulling into Berlin five minutes ahead of schedule.
“We are offering a new service to compete with the car, the plane, the long-distance bus as well as Deutsche Bahn,” Locomore founder Derek Ladewig told the AFP news agency. It is an ambitious goal, but Ladewig knows it isn’t about to become a serious competitor right away, but instead is focused on providing passengers with a service that rivals the age-old Deutsche Bahn in many ways.
First off, Locomore has made it very clear that their ticket prices will always be more affordable than Deutsche Bahn’s going fare, and purchasing tickets is designed to be a breeze with an online ticketing service that is available to both German and English-speaking passengers.
Of course there will be the pricier business class cars that provide more privacy, table space, WiFi and enough outlets to stay charged on the go, but one might find the appeal of the themed cars more desirable, and it is a feature that definitely makes Locomore stand out among the competition.
Themed cars offer passengers the opportunity to book a seat among like-minded passengers. Some of the themes offered by Locomore include Startup Networking, Boardgames, Backpacking, Fußball/Soccer, Photography and even English. If you’re going to be making the six-and-a-half trip from Stuttgart to Berlin, why not do it among company that will hopefully make the time go by fast, and maybe even make a new friend.
While the passenger’s experience is improved inside, one of Locomore’s most powerful differentiators lies at the trains core — its impact on the environment. The maiden train may be one refurbished from the 1970’s, but it’s handling of energy is definitely 2016.
The electric powering the Locomore train comes from renewable energy sources backed by German environmental groups, and regenerated power from the trains braking mechanism will be funneled into the trains energy network. Locomore is also committed to investing in the expansion of green power networks.
So does Deutsche Bahn have to worry about a new player in town? Probably not. Right now Locomore only operates the one train, along a single route, once a day. Of course there are plans to expand service now that the business is operational, with service planned for Munich and Cologne, but it would take years to make a sizable dent at the 700 daily long distance trips offered by Deutsche Bahn. But it is a start.