Transreport, a UK-based start-up responsible for the Passenger Assistance app, has received an injection of funding worth $12m from two private equity groups. 

The tech solution, which has operated in conjunction with several UK train operating companies and recently signed its first contract in Japan, allows disabled passengers who need assistance to use the railways to book services before they travel.

The funding round is led by Puma Private Equity with participation from Pembroke VCT. 

Founder Jay Shen told Railway Technology the investors chosen were those that understood and agreed with its ethical mission and method. 

“I think the most important part is not just making money, but also doing this in a very ethical and a right way… “Puma really share our ethos and really echoed with our sort of vision and strategy. And then Pembroke came in, similar to Puma understanding the management team, understanding our vision.” 

Shen explained the personal importance to him of finding investors with key business experience – if not specialist knowledge in supporting disabled travellers. 

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By GlobalData

“From a running business perspective, they know much more than I do,” he said.

“Every day… I feel nervous about it.  But these investors have seen other companies grow from 10 people to 20 people, to 200 people, and then having offices in the UK and around the world. So they know what sort of hiccups [to expect], what the challenges coming along are, and they can prepare us for that,” Shen explained. 

Jay Shen, founder of Transreport.

Speaking with Railway Technology ahead of the announcement, the Transreport founder explained the capital injection would allow it to invest further in UK and Japanese rail. 

“The first thing is that we will continue to invest in the UK rail sector. We have laid a solid foundation in the last few years, working with the National Rail, the RDG, the train companies in the UK, and bringing the passenger assistance app to the disabled community.”

“But we’ll recognize that there’s still a long way to go,” Shen said. 

But the company’s sights are set further afield than Japanese regional rail providers. Shen explained that breaking into the aviation sector with the Passenger Assistance app was a key goal on his radar. 

“We have a lot of disabled people coming to us and saying: ‘Why can we have similar technology when I travel by air?’ Hence, we started talking to airports and airlines and realised actually, there is indeed a need for this.”

Mark Lyons, investment director at Puma Private Equity said: “We have known Jay, Waleed and the Transreport team for several years now and are thrilled to be backing them on their next stage of growth. We were initially struck by their mission to transform the travel experience for older and disabled people, who have historically encountered challenges using public transport.

“With the planned expansion into new territories and verticals, Transreport’s cutting-edge accessibility technology will reach a wider global audience whilst simultaneously creating operational efficiencies for the transport operators,” he added. 

Fred Ursell, Pembroke VCT’s investment director added: “What sets Transreport apart is not just its commitment to democratising transport, but the ingenious manner in which they achieve it. Since 2016, Transreport has been at the forefront of innovation, providing transport operators with state-of-the-art mobility technologies that go beyond conventional solutions, setting new benchmarks for accessibility technology.”