Interview with Edmund Caldecott, CEO at Train Ticketing Platform: Trainhugger

Edmund Caldecott

Trainhugger is a ground-breaking new train ticketing platform OR website which enables people to explore Britain by rail, see friends and family again – all while caring for the planet. Every time a passenger makes a booking through, a tree is planted here in the UK.

Importantly, this investment in the UK countryside comes at no extra cost to the customer. Our passengers have access to the best available fares and pay the same ticket price as they would elsewhere. The difference is, we donate a third of our revenue to tree planting.
Startup Jobs at Trainhugger June 2021 |

How did you come up with the idea for Trainhugger?

I am passionate about improving train travel for the customer as many big industry players are too TOC-centric. This is something that I also place huge emphasis on in my role as CEO of Whoosh, which provides communication technology to enhance the rail journey experience. Felix, Trainhugger’s co-founder and I originally came up with the idea of a rail passenger reward scheme to make the dreaded commute a bit better. However, we found the options were uninspiring and wanted to tune into what we, and the wider public, care about and this is tackling climate change through our everyday lives.

I have a fascination with socio-dynamics and am forever curious about whether people are willing to give a little extra in order to do the right thing. This notion combined with the environmental motivation, formed the idea for Trainhugger.

Felix is very interested in the utility sector and the idea of rail travel being viewed similarly, he noticed that several challengers in this sphere such as Octopus and Ovo are environmentally focused and are making a splash in what has previously been considered a dry sector. Likewise, the rail industry is known for having functional brands which can lack personality and purpose and we wanted Trainhugger to be a ticketing brand that is really cherished.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

The entire lifespan of Trainhugger, from ideation, development and launch has all taken place throughout the pandemic. However, coronavirus has very much demonstrated that this technology is more necessary than ever, as we hope to boost the hard-hit UK travel and tourism industry.

This is matched with the trend of slow travel and deciding to enjoy the journey equally with the destination. Moreover, it appears people are coming out of the pandemic keener than ever to do their bit to tackle climate change. Rail travel generates significantly less CO2 than travelling by car or plane so this is a win-win for conscientious travellers, The timing for us to harness the nation’s desire to cut our climate impact and improve local air quality could not be more ideal.

What can we hope to see from Trainhugger in the future?

More of the same! We’re excited to have the website live and be taking bookings for people to travel around the UK again, to see their much-missed friends and family and to have some summer fun. An app is in development as we speak and we’ll be launching that in the near future.

Importantly, we aim to plant 10 million trees by 2025 through train bookings in conjunction with the Royal Forestry Society (RFS) and the Royal Scottish Forestry Society (RSFS) and are focused on hitting that critical target. Furthermore, we are looking to bring in new partners to celebrate and share our good work such as local tourist boards, attractions and establishments. Watch this space!