The Influence of Colour and Light on the Experience and Satisfaction with a Dutch Railway Station

The Influence of Colour and Light on the Experience and Satisfaction with a Dutch Railway Station


M van Hagen, NS, NL; M Galetzka, A Pruyn, University of Twente, NL


Color and lighting are important aspects of the environment and can sort effects on mood and behavior. In this study the effects of color and lighting in a station environment will be studied.


Customer satisfaction is very important for service organizations since it is a determinant for loyalty and consequently for a healthy financial situation. Customer satisfaction largely depends on the evaluation of the product or service. In the Railway sector, the company?s efforts are often focused on accelerating the speed or reliability of the train journey. Less attention has been paid to the customers? experience of the train journey and the service environment. In service (management) literature however, it is widely acknowledged that customer evaluation heavily relies on experience qualities of the service setting. Perceptions of service quality are influenced by such factors as environmental cues or staff encounters. Service providers should thus focus more explicitly on the experience qualities of the service to generate satisfied customers. From this perspective, the physical environment can be considered an important instrument to enhance customers? satisfaction. Color and lighting are important aspects of the environment and known for the effects they can sort on mood and behavior. Consequently, we propose that these two aspects have a significant impact on the overall evaluation of the service. This especially goes for the Dutch Railway (NS) where travelers experience the quality of the service in the environment in which the service process takes place (i.e. the station and platforms they wait in, walk and travel through).

The impact of ambient factors such as color and lighting has been widely researched. Most of these studies were conducted in experimental laboratory settings or in field studies directed at retail environments or restaurants. Results of these studies often reveal the positive effects of short wave colors like blue on pleasure, dominance and arousal. Blue also has a positive effect on feelings of safety and waiting time perception while long wave colors (i.e. red) will increase feelings of tension. This higher state of arousal negatively affects the perception of control and, in turn, feelings of safety, crowding and mood. Results on studies of lighting reveal a more diffuse vision with positive effects of bright light and negative effects of dim light and reverse effects in other studies. The literature suggests that people need some basic level of luminance and levels that go above and beneath this basic level are perceived as unpleasant.

The literature offers some suggestions what color and lighting might do with travelers in a railway station. Because of the obvious differences of both a restaurant and a retail store with a railway station, effects must be interpreted with care, however. To measure the effects of color and lighting on customers? mood and customer satisfaction of railway travelers, three methods will be used. First, a virtual lab will be used to measure some of the effects of color and lighting in relation to crowding and waiting time perception. Secondly, a virtual station will be developed which will be send to the online panel of the Dutch Railway. In this online experiment, we will be able to reach a large sample of respondents and a variety of variables such as perceived control, orientation and perceived safety as well as crowding and waiting time perception will be measured. Finally, these variables will also be measured in a real railway station where lighting and color will be manipulated.

The results of the three studies will shed light on two aspects. First it sheds light on what color, lighting and combination of the two should be used in a railway station and with what effect. Second, the three studies can be compared to observe the differences in results between a virtual lab, an online virtual station and an actual and realistic station. Results can be used in further research investigating the impact of several aspects of the service environment on satisfaction with the service.


Association for European Transport