Famous York rail firm ‘in talks to be sold for £100m’

Great Rail Journeys on a new track? Photograph © Kholodnitskiy Maksim on Unsplash
18 Jun 2018 @ 5.58 pm
| Business, Transport

Since it was founded by two former railway workers, Great Rail Journeys has conquered the world.

And now the York-based holiday company could be on its own journey – into new ownership.

According to the city editor of Sky News, the travel group is in talks to sell itself to the buyout Duke Street Capital.

The two companies are said to have embarked on exclusive negotiations over the sale, expected to be worth £100 million.

Duke Street is the private equity firm fund which specialises in investing “in mature, mid-market Western European businesses”.

It has previously backed companies including the Wagamama restaurant chain and The Original Factory Shop.

A spokesman for Great Rail Journeys declined to comment when contacted by YorkMix.

Global holidays

A picture from one of the Australia and New Zealand tours. Photograph: Great Rail Journeys
Great Rail Journeys is Britain’s “leading provider of escorted holidays by rail”, sending more than 50,000 people a year on holidays across the globe backed by 156 staff in its York office.

In 2017 it won Best Rail Holidays Company in the British Travel Awards for the third year running.

Great Rail Journeys began in London when British Rail colleagues Ian Macbeth and Peter Henry launched an adventurous tour by train to North Africa and Egpyt in 1973.

Great Rail Journeys is based in Saviour House, St Saviourgate. Photographs: Richard McDougall
Saviour House, York

They established ‘Mac Tours’ which ran holidays to Scotland, Germany, Scandinavia, Russia, America and Canada.

They moved to York in 1979, turning their side project into a full-time job in the 1980s.

It became Great Rail Journeys in 1997. And by 2005 the touring company that had started with five railwaymen on an Egyptian adventure, was taking 20,000 holidaymakers a year on tour.

Sky News reports that the company took in outside investment for the first time in 2005 when it struck a deal with Primary Capital, before selling again in 2013 to ECI Partners.