King's Award for Innovation
Tech firm takes the strain out of the train
Whoosh's product is a QR-driven rather than an app that needs to be downloaded.
Whoosh, a UK travel tech business, has won multiple awards for its innovative real-time information services, which are designed to keep passengers informed while traveling.
The company was founded by Edmund Caldecott, who initially developed onboard entertainment systems for airlines, trains, and coaches. He observed that one of the most popular features on planes was a simple moving map that showed the progress of the journey.
“The reason why it is so visited and useful" commented Ed is, "people like to know where they are – it’s a basic human need."
This inspired him to develop a patented technology that provides real-time information to rail passengers that Ed estimates about three out of ten people on every journey use. Even more - seven out of ten - use the system during disruption such as when there are leaves on the line.
"When the system is onboard we are the most used digital touch point, more used than any app or booking service."
This ground-breaking system has won a King’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation and several other accolades, including Rail Business Awards Best Innovation 2022, Rail Innovation Awards Passenger Experience 2022, and Travolution’s Best Customer Innovation 2021.
Whoosh's product is a QR-driven onboard information and two-way communication service called Journey Central. Passengers can use this service to order food and access live destination information, all through a QR code rather than an app that needs to be downloaded.
The service can also be used to report issues with the train, including anti-social behavior, blocked loos, and malfunctioning doors. Messages sent via the system can identify the train, where it is and even down to which carriage the problem is on.
The development of the technology took around five years, as the train network is "highly complex what-with trains being canceled, delayed, switch of platforms, etc." said Ed.
Covid caused a significant challenge for Woosh as travel ground to a halt, but it has emerged stronger with plans to expand into buses and internationally.