Exclusive Interview: The Future of Rail Travel with Björn Bender
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Hello Björn, could you introduce yourself to our MOTION readers please?

I've been passionate about mobility for over 20 years. I joined Rail Europe as Executive Chairman & CEO one year ago, bringing with me a strong focus on customer centricity and innovation. My prior roles include heading Innovation at Swiss Federal Railways and leading New Mobility Services there. I've also had significant stints with Deutsche Bahn, culminating as the VP for New Mobility Sales. Outside of work, I lecture at the University of St. Gallen and actively support sustainable mobility initiatives, like founding Mobility Allstars e.V. Personally, I'm a proud father and hold a Master's in management with a focus on tourism and transport.

Rail Europe in 100 words: what do you do?

Rail Europe is a leading European train booking platform, with a rich 90-year history. We collaborate with over 200 rail providers, including big names like SNCF, Eurostar, and Trenitalia. Not only do we serve more than 15,000 partners across 70+ countries with our tech solutions, but international travelers can also use our advanced website and app for seamless bookings. We annually sell about 5 million train tickets. Our global presence is extensive, with offices worldwide, and our headquarters is in Paris.

Sustainable travel by train - how do you see the future of traveling in Europe and what role does Tech play in this?

Sustainable travel, particularly by train, is undoubtedly the future of European travel. Trains offer a carbon-efficient mode of transportation, and as environmental consciousness grows among travelers, rail will continue to gain preference. Europe's dense railway network, combined with its cultural and geographical diversity, makes train travel not just eco-friendly but also incredibly convenient and scenic.

Tech plays a pivotal role in this transition. Firstly, advancements in technology allow for seamless booking experiences, real-time updates, and integrations with other modes of transport, creating a holistic travel ecosystem. Additionally, tech helps in predictive maintenance, ensuring train services are efficient and minimize downtimes. Onboard tech enhancements can also elevate the passenger experience, making rail travel more comfortable and entertaining. Furthermore, data analytics and AI can optimize routes and schedules, reducing energy consumption and further enhancing sustainability. At Rail Europe, we're at the forefront of harnessing tech to ensure rail remains the most sustainable and preferred mode of travel across the continent.

How do you manage a team that is based in offices around the world?

Managing a global team certainly has its challenges, but it's also one of our greatest strengths. Our strategic presence in various locations allows us to be as close as possible to our customers. This proximity is quite unique in the train travel sector and sets us apart. We've embraced a 'remote-first' approach, ensuring that everyone, irrespective of their location, has access to the resources and support they need. Communication is key. We hold 'All Hands' meetings every two weeks, which keeps the entire team updated, aligned, and engaged. These sessions not only convey business updates but also foster a sense of unity and shared purpose. The culture at Rail Europe is robust. Despite the geographical distances, everyone feels connected, like they're part of a larger family. This sense of belonging and shared vision ensures that our global team remains cohesive, focused, and driven towards our common goals.

This text was taken out of our MOTION Magazine Edition Four which was released a few days ago. If you want to read more about how sustainable travel by train is aiming to overtake air travel in Europe, just get yourself a copy of our MOTION Magazine. In another article on that topic we highlight the most beautiful train trips within Europe. As we move forward, the fusion of sustainability and travel promises to make every rail journey an environmentally conscious, emotionally resonant, and breathtaking experience.

Copyright Images: Rail Europe by Benoit Billard

“Sustainable travel, particularly by train, is undoubtedly the future of European travel.”
Björn Bender, CEO Rail Europe