rockies
US firm Vacations By Rail specialises in holidays across North America, including US National Parks, Alaska, the Rockies and cross-Canadian rail journeys.
Jane Imrie

Full steam ahead for York rail holiday firm with US acquisition

A Yorkshire rail holiday firm has agreed a deal to acquire a US business as part of its international expansion.

York-based Great Rail Journeys (GRJ) will acquire US firm Vacations By Rail as part of its plan to strengthen its existing proposition and grow the business globally.

Headquartered in Chicago, Vacations By Rail was established in 2004 and specialises in holidays across North America, including US National Parks, Alaska, the Rockies and cross-Canadian rail journeys.

Employing over 150 people and offering almost 400 itineraries to over 50 countries globally, GRJ has worked on its expansion strategy by tapping into new source markets for its rail tours including Australia and the US.

Heather Leisman, GRJ’s current President of North America, will assume leadership of the combined North American operation.

Vacations By Rail co-founders Todd Powell and Cole Dannewitz will join the existing GRJ executive team and transition into new roles which focus globally.

Peter Liney, CEO of GRJ, commented: “This acquisition is the first step of many as we look to enhance our position as the world’s leading rail holiday company.

“At a time of market uncertainty, it signifies our scale and ambition within the market and at one stroke makes us market leader for escorted rail holidays in the USA.”

“From product expansion to investment in technology and strengthening both our escorted and independent travel business, the combination of our two businesses is very exciting for us all.”

Co-founder and CEO of VBR, Todd Powell, added: “We are delighted to be growing our partnership with GRJ, building on our strong working relationship to date.”

“The combination of our two companies represents a significant opportunity to grow our footprint in the rail vacation sector domestically and internationally, as well as accelerate into new markets.

He concluded: “We look forward to formally becoming part of the GRJ family.”

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