What Rail Passengers Will Do to Get a Seat

What Rail Passengers Will Do to Get a Seat


C Pownall, M Prior, J Segal, MVA Consultancy, UK


We have undertaken a study of rail passengers? valuation of crowding for the UK Department for Transport, including a series of case studies looking at situations where passengers trade-off to mitigate the effects of crowding on their journey.


Over-crowding continues to be a significant issue on the rail network that cannot be solved without major investment. Until that investment arrives, passengers are increasingly altering their travel behaviour to mitigate the effects of crowding.

MVA Consultancy has been commissioned by the Department of Transport to undertake a major study of passengers valuation of crowding, to provide updated guidance on the modelling and appraisal of the capacity impacts of rail schemes. The study uses a mixture of Stated Preference surveys, supported by a range of Revealed Preference case studies.

The Case Studies consider different situations in which passengers make trade-offs to mitigate the effects of crowding on their journey. These trade-offs include:

Travelling on slower but less crowded services in preference to crowded fast services;
On inbound journeys, boarding at the rear of the train where it is less crowded, but egress at the terminal station is less convenient;
Travelling earlier or later in the peak;
Waiting for the next train when the service they intended to get is too crowded; and
In the PM peak, arriving at the terminal station early in order to ensure they get a seat on the waiting train.

Revealed Preference data on these trade-offs has been obtained through a combination of surveys, passenger counts, and the use of Automatic Passenger Count (APC) equipment.

Analysis of passengers current travel behaviour has been used to provide an insight into how they value travelling in a crowded environment. Further understanding was obtained from questions which ask how much passengers current choice sets would need to change before they would alter their behaviour.

This paper reports on the extent to which passengers alter their behaviour to avoid over-crowding, and the conclusions that can be drawn in terms of valuation.


Association for European Transport