Responding to the Needs of Regional Passenger Train Travellers - a Comparison of Four Regions in Europe
Ambrosius BAANDERS, Ecorys, Thomas DELAHAIS, Euréval, Éric MONNIER, Euréval
A comparison between four regions in four countries, which are responsible for regional train services. What is their strategy to respond to the needs of travellers, while ensuring a good value for the public money spent?
Over the last decade, more and more regional governments in Europe have become responsible for organising and financing regional passenger train services. This paper presents a comparison that was made between four regions in four countries, which are responsible for regional train services:
• the Rhône-Alpes region in France,
• the Rhine-Ruhr area in Gemany,
• the metropolitan region of Barcelona in Spain,
• the Canton of Zurich in Switzerland.
The comparison was made as part of an evaluation of the regional train policy of the Rhône-Alpes Region over the past ten years.
The main question of the comparison concerned the strategy of the regions to respond to the needs of travellers, while ensuring a good value for the public money spent. This is done by answering the following questions:
• What is the competence of the authority organising the regional trains and how is that related to that of the other public transport modes?
• Which authorities are involved in the organisation of the regional trains?
• What fare system is used and how is this integrated with the other public transport modes?
• How are the costs and quality of the train services controlled?
• How is passenger satisfaction ensured?
• How are transport policy and spatial policy linked?
• How easy is it for the users to understand the services offered?
The paper presents the different strategies of the regions, which are of course linked to their institutional settings. In all four regions, the national railway company is operating regional trains under contract from the regional authority, but in three of them, there are also other operators. Three of the regions have a specialised agency (public transport authority) which is responsible not only for the regional train services, but also for the other forms of public transport, urban and non-urban. These three also have an integrated fare system, valid for all modes. The fourth region (Rhône-Alpes) has a more limited degree of fare integration.
There are two contrasting approaches to control the costs and the quality delivered by the operators. On the one hand, the Rhine-Ruhr region is gradually introducing competition for operating contracts for all regional train routes. On the other hand, the Canton Zurich has no competition, nor any intention to introduce it. The legal situation of the operators is guaranteed and the authority can only do business with the existing operators. In the Swiss political context (‘concordance democracy’) this means a very open approach to the data of operators, allowing control by the authority. Quality control is an important feature of both systems. The paper addresses the question why both systems appear to give satisfaction to their respective authorities and political masters. The systems of the other two regions, Rhône-Alpes and metropolitan Barcelona, are somewhere between these two contrasting approaches. In fact, their systems appear to be less settled yet.
Association for European Transport