A Berlin, Germany, startup called Locomore has launched the world’s first crowdfunded train service.
The renovated 1970s train, with retro orange-and-brown livery and the words “fair, ecological, cheap” emblazoned on the side, pulled out of Stuttgart station for its maiden voyage to Berlin via Frankfurt and Hanover on Wednesday morning. A one-way Stuttgart-Berlin ticket with Locomore costs upwards from €22 euros ($23.44) versus €115 on Deutsche Bahn.
At six and-a-half hours, the trip is slightly slower than aboard the high-speed national rail service Deutsche Bahn—and so far it only offers one return service a day. But Locomore founder Derek Ladewig is hoping that his radically cheaper tickets and the fact that the trains are powered by 100% green electricity will lure people away from long-distance buses and cars.
“We are offering a new service to compete with the car, the plane, the long-distance bus as well as Deutsche Bahn,” Ladewig told AFP.
His backers believe there’s room for a new kid on the block: Locomore raised its startup capital—more than $640,000— on Startnext, a crowdfunding platform for entrepreneurs in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, in the space of a year. It rents its trains and drivers, supplying its own staff for ticket sales and on-board duties.
Though Locomore doesn’t pose a threat to Deutsche Bahn’s domination—it runs 99% of all long-distance rail journeys in Germany, its hipster credentials outshine its mighty rival. It offers organic food, fair-trade coffee, and the option to book yourself a seat next to people who share your interests—be they startup networking, knitting, or card games.