Rail passengers have increasing expectations and we all need them to be satisfied if the railway is to continue to grow and take an increasing market share. So, what matters to them? This photo montage may give some ideas.
Railfuture campaigns for a bigger and better railway in Britain. To achieve this goal the railway must offer a service that passengers and freight operators want to use out of choice, not because they have no alternative. Of course, many passengers do have an alternative, which can sometimes be cheaper, quicker and more convenient; however, people will still choose to travel by train if the overall experience is better.
So, what makes a good travel experience?
Factors such as travel time being productive (because of the ability to work or just read, whether it’s a book, tablet or a smartphone), the lack of stress (being stuck in traffic jams is no pleasure to anyone), the freedom to move around and not having to wait until the destination or the next motorway service station to use the toilet.
Whilst Railfuture has a strong reputation for promoting infrastructure enhancements and expanding the rail network, along with more and better trains, it supports and lobbies for the day-to-day things that really matter to passengers. Many of these ‘soft’ issues can be delivered in the short term so that rail users see noticeable benefits and Britain’s unprecedented growth in rail patronage will continue.
If existing and prospective rail passengers are asked about their priorities they are likely to include many of the following:
- Fares that are competitive (the term “affordable” is a poor word as varies according to the person’s disposable income)
- End-to-end journey times comparable to other modes (this requires a range of fast, semi-fast and stopping services, plus trains with good acceleration and higher line speeds)
- Availability of vacant car parking spaces and secure cycle parking at the station
- Station facilities (such as waiting rooms - with facilities such as power sockets - coffee kiosks, high-quality shelters and toilets)
- Train facilities (such as air-conditioning, power sockets - 13 amp and USB are both needed - plus Wi-Fi)
- Frequent trains (not having to wait too long at stations)
- Guaranteed seat (no-one want to be forced to stand)
- Accurate real-time information (not knowing what is happening can be stressful)
- Hassle-free ticket purchasing (smartcards have great potential)
- Cleanliness (on the train and at the station – especially seats and toilets, and litter bins help)
- Accessibility (ability to move around the station and board trains without inconvenience or embarrassment)
- Personal security (something particularly important to women and older travellers)
Lastly, people care about the railway being attractive. They want to be proud of the transport mode they’ve chosen, not ashamed of it.
Railfuture, along with its network of affiliated Rail User Groups, campaigns for all of the above and much more besides. Passengers can find out much more – and adding their voice to Railfuture’s - by attending one of Railfuture’s reasonable-priced national conferences, a local branch meeting or becoming a member.
Read previous articles by this writer: Eurostar Snapshot Survey, Stansted Experience, Widening the NET, Lacklustre Busway, Expand Eurocity network, Government backs Wi-Fi, Cheapest fares by law?, Bring Back BR?, Public Sector Franchises, Fare Increase Viewpoint and Tube Staffing.