Member News

Window Seater delivers immersive new experience to get leisure travellers back on trains

18 February 2022 | Window Seater

Window Seater and Community Rail Network have partnered to provide geolocated, localised audio stories that connect rail travellers to the world outside their window. From Thursday 17th February these informative, lively and simple-to-use guides will be available for free on nine lines in the GWR region via the Apple and Google stores. 

Getting people back on trains in an innovative, fun and engaging way

Post-Covid, bringing leisure travellers back to rail is critical to the industry’s recovery, as is encouraging modal shift from car to train. 

Window Seater offers Train Operating Companies and other rail organisations tailored, engaging and relevant content, enhancing customer experience (user data shows Window Seater increases customer enjoyment by over 20%), driving modal shift and offering innovative partnership marketing opportunities.

Window Seater guides for south west England

Drawing on stories from communities along the railway line and using proprietary technology, Window Seater covers a wide variety of subjects from history and geography to art and culture - always focused on the local area. 

Listeners will get to hear about subjects ranging from the Roman ruins at Silchester in Hampshire to the cultural scene and station pop art in Bristol - and much in between! 

At first, guides will be offered on the following lines: 

  • Bristol to Weymouth (Heart of Wessex line) 
  • Bristol to Severn Beach 
  • Bristol to Worcester
  • London to Oxford
  • Oxford to Hereford (Cotswold line)
  • Swindon to Cheltenham (Golden Valley line)
  • Reading to Gatwick (North Downs line)
  • Reading to Basingstoke
  • Westbury to Swindon (TransWilts line)

Rail Minister, Wendy Morton said: 
“I am thrilled to have helped bring this innovative project to life through our First of a Kind competition.

“Window Seater is a fantastic app, enhancing customer experience through GPS linked stories which connect passengers to the world outside their window.

“Supporting new ideas, innovation and design is at the core of our Plan for Rail, it’s vital that we support the inventors and enterprise of today to improve train journeys for the future.”

Marcus Allender, Business Development Director at Window Seater, said:  “We are delighted to be working directly with the people who know the stories along the railway best – our new tech allows us to harness the passion and knowledge of these communities, increasing the quality and scalability of our guides.

“Improving customer experience, better drawing on community rail and getting people back on trains are all core goals of the government’s new Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, which this project dovetails with perfectly.”

Community Rail Network chief executive Jools Townsend said: “Many people don’t realise the scope for exploring Britain’s stunning landscapes, pretty villages and historic sites by rail – and making use of our wonderful, often little-known, community rail lines and stations is a great way to do this.

“We’re proud to have partnered with Window Seater and our community rail members across the South West on this innovative initiative. We hope it will inspire more people to take the train, uncover hidden gems and learn more about the communities and locations the railway takes you through, for wonderful, green, community-friendly days out and longer trips.”

Funding from Innovate UK

This initiative was funded by the First of a Kind 2021 competition, aimed at projects that increase confidence and enhance the experience of rail travel, run by Innovate UK on behalf of the Department for Transport.
Notes to Editors

What is Window Seater?
Window Seater connects rail travellers to the world outside their window, providing high quality geolocated audio stories which link all the fascinating features along the railway. The Window Seater app is available on Apple and Google stores and Window Seater’s content is available to integrate with rail organisations’ own apps and customer interfaces. 

The Window Seater story
In 2018, a Window Seater prototype was built and successfully tested with rail passengers in Thailand and in 2020 a second prototype was built as part of the Transport for Wales Lab Programme, yielding user research that showed significant improvements in customer experience and propensity to use rail over other modes of transport.

About Community Rail Network
Community rail is a unique and growing movement comprising more than 70 community rail partnerships and 1,000 volunteer groups across Britain that help communities get the most from their railways. Community rail is about engaging local people at grassroots level to promote social inclusion, sustainable and healthy travel, wellbeing, economic development and tourism. It involves working with train operators, local authorities and other partners to bring improvements to rail services and stations, with improved accessibility and inclusion, and help communities to have a voice in rail and transport development.

Window Seater: Marcus Allender, Business Development Director
E: P: 07500 800 699

Community Rail Network: Alice Mannion, Campaigns & leisure promotions officer
E: P: 07376 124965 

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