This article was published on July 27, 2023

Berlin tech companies join forces to plant trees when you travel by train

The more sustainable travel choice might just have become even greener


Berlin tech companies join forces to plant trees when you travel by train

German multi-modal travel unicorn Omio has teamed up with compatriot search engine Ecosia to create a tree-planting rail travel booking tool. It means users will be able to search and book train journeys through Ecosia’s website, powered by an API-integration with Omio’s travel platform. 

The booking platform will automatically pop up via a simple query search for trains, or for destinations where train travel is possible, say London to Paris. It will be available in 15 countries: the UK, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Nordics, North America and Canada, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Ukraine.

The intention behind the new tool being rolled out this month is two-fold. Firstly, to make sustainable rail options more visible as an alternative to air travel. Secondly, all the commission Ecosia receives from successful bookings will go directly toward the search engine’s green initiatives. 

Note that this is not a form of offsetting, meaning that it is not intended to “cancel out” any carbon emissions produced by your journey (a popular but, let’s face it, greenwashing tool employed by airlines during the booking process).  

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Providers accessible through the new tool include Amtrak in the United States, LNER, GWR, Avanti in the UK, SNCF in France, OBB in Austria and Eurostar

Born from the Berlin startup scene

In the land of internet searches, where one company is so synonymous with the activity that it has become a verb, you’d be forgiven for not having heard of Ecosia. However, the platform does see 20 million users globally every month. 

Founded in 2009 by Christian Kroll, the tech company dedicates 100% of its profits to planet-friendly initiatives. These include having planted over 175 million trees all over the world, in collaboration with local communities.

The company, the first to become an accredited B Corp in Germany in 2014, has also supported regenerative agriculture projects, and invested into renewable energy. 

“Our users want choice over how they travel, and they want to travel sustainably — that’s evident in the sheer volume of searches we’re seeing each month on Ecosia,” said the company’s Chief Product Officer Michael Metcalf. 

“If a healthy proportion of the two million searches made for train journeys on Ecosia each month translate into bookings, this will allow us to invest in our other environmental initiatives pushing back against the climate emergency,” he continued.  

Fellow Berliner Omio was first introduced as GoEuro in 2013 by founder Naren Shaam. Today, the multi-modal platform issues travel tickets across 37 countries, in 21 different languages, and 26 different currencies, for 1000+ travel transportation providers. 

Following a growth of 100% up until 2019, Omio experienced a couple of incredibly tough years during the pandemic where 98% of the company’s revenue basically evaporated overnight. However, almost exactly a year ago, Omio announced a Series E funding of $80mn (approx. €72mn) to take its total funding up to $480mn (€434mn).

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