Developing the Rail Network Through Better Access to Railway Stations - Summary of Findings from the IBRAM Research
M Givoni, P Rietveld, Free University of Amsterdam, NL
The access-to-railway-station mode choice in the Netherlands is analyzed, including the influence of car availability on this choice, and the influence of the access facility quality on passengers' satisfaction with rail travel.
A railway journey is almost always part of a journey ?chain? that includes a journey to, and later from, the railway station by different modes of transport. The integration of these components is essential to achieve a continuous travel, door-to-door when using the rail, and in order to make the railway a viable and attractive alternative to the car. Such integration depends very much on the extent to which the interchange between transport modes and services is seamless. Since railway stations are usually located relatively far from each other, even within the major cities, getting to them or from them is usually an important part of a rail journey, and therefore must also be accounted for in the efforts to increase rail use. Thus, the accessibility of a station can be a factor in determining if the railway is chosen as a travel alternative.
As part of a research on the Integration Between Rail and Access-to-railway-station Modes (IBRAM), this paper focuses on understanding which modes passengers use to get to or from railway stations in the Netherlands and the main characteristics of these passengers. The analysis also looks on whether railway passengers could have used a car for the journey instead of traveling by rail and how this influenced their choice of access mode to the station. Following this, the importance of the passengers? satisfaction with the access facilities (e.g. car parks at the station) in determining their overall satisfaction from using the train is estimated.
The analysis is based on Dutch Railways (NS) customer satisfaction survey carried out between a Monday and Friday in September 2005. The results show that most passengers access the home end station by walking, public transport and bicycle and egress the activity end station mainly by walking or using public transport. The car was used to access the home end station by only 7.2% of passengers. Amongst the passengers who had a car available for the journey (43% of passengers) only 16% used it to get to the station, suggesting that in the Netherlands almost half of train passengers are not ?captive market?, they could have used the car; and that even when a car is available other alternatives are preferred.
The ?general opinion of traveling by train? was assumed to be a linear function of the general cost of traveling (measured as passengers? satisfaction with the price/quality ratio), the perception of the railway station and the perception of the access mode facilities. The perception of the access mode facilities was assumed to be a linear function of the perception of the connections with public transport, the car parking capacity, the quality of guarded bicycle parking and the quality of the unguarded bicycle parking. A regression analysis showed that the overall quality judgment of railway travelers for the trips they make is most strongly affected by the price/quality perception of the trip, but the summed weight of the other components, the quality perception of the station and the access facilities, is of a similar magnitude. An implication is that railway companies should not only consider their core business ? the running of trains - but also the additional factors such as the station quality and the quality of the access modes in order to increase customer satisfaction.
The results show that the rail-access environment in the Netherlands (dense railway network, good urban public transport and widespread use of bicycle) is materializing into an access to station profile that is dominated by walking, bicycle and public transport modes that can contribute to reduction in environmental pollution around railway stations (certainly walking and bicycle). Furthermore, these qualities of transport networks are probably the main reason that car availability is not a determining factor in the choice of mode to access the station.
The analysis shows that lowering the average distance to the station, by opening more stations on the network, will lead to a change in the modal share on access to the home station as passengers would trade public transport for bicycle and walking. However, a policy to open new stations on the Dutch railway network is unlikely to have a substantial affect on using the car to access the station and it will result in travel time penalties since trains will be required to make more stops. Finally, the results indicate that there is still substantial scope for improving the access to railway stations, and this will in most cases contribute to a higher satisfaction with railway journeys.
Association for European Transport