ON SEPTEMBER 5 French National Railways announced that it had signed an agreement with Expedia Inc to form a joint venture that will develop SNCF’s existing web presence at www.voyages-sncf.com to provide a wider range of travel services by the end of this year. The site will combine facilities for booking train and airline tickets, hotels and car hire with destination information including city maps and weather forecasts.
SNCF’s 53% share in the joint venture is held through subsidiary GL e-commerce, the internet arm of the Grandes Lignes main line passenger business, whose Managing Director Denis Wathier is President of the new alliance. He said that joining forces with on-line travel booking specialist Expedia was ’a vital step in improving the quality of the service offered to our on-line customers’.
A licensed travel agent since January this year, voyages-sncf.com can already be accessed through the Travelprice and Havas Voyages sites. Since June this year the site has been visited by over 1million customers and is expected to record a turnover of Fr1·1bn this year.