Music at Railway Stations: the Influence of Music on Waiting Experience

Music at Railway Stations: the Influence of Music on Waiting Experience


M van Hagen, Dutch Railways, NL; M Galetzka, A Pruyn, J Sauren, University of Twente, NL


How do different types of passengers -in peak hours or off-peak hours- react to the different kind of music? The Reversal Theory (Apter, 2007) is tested on a railway station with different music genres.


The Dutch Railways would like its passengers to feel at ease at railway stations; a railway station should be a place where they are willing to stay. The underlying thought is that if people feel at home somewhere, they want to stay longer, are more satisfied and consume more. All this has a positive influence on customer satisfaction, sales and the image of the Dutch Railways.
Music is a stimulus that has the most direct emotional effect on people (Lindstrom, 2003).
This study investigates if music could play a role in getting passengers in a different (more positive and more pleasant) mood. The Reversal Theory (Apter, 2007) is tested on the basis of different music genres. Reversal theory proposes that customers like passengers are in different states of mind in different situations. At railway stations we see utilitarian (must) and hedonistic (lust) passengers. Utilitarian passengers and passengers who travel during rush hours are more serious, goal oriented and stressed (telic state). Hedonistic passengers and passengers who travel during off-peak hours (and also in the evening) are more playfull, less serious and more relaxed (paratelic state). The purpose is to let passengers feel more relaxed during busy moments and give them more stimulation during quiet moments. The intention is to give them a pleasant feeling, to create a more positive attitude towards railway stations and to give them the feeling that time passes more quickly. Different kinds of music can be played at a railway platform in different situations (peak/off-peak) to create the proposed experiences. In the study various kinds of music have been examined:
? happy, stimulating music with high tempo;
? happy, stimulating music with slow tempo feel;
? relaxing music with high tempo and calming effect;
? relaxing music with high tempo but slow tempo feel;
? majestic music which gives people a feeling of royal welcome;
? soundscapes with sounds of nature, especially bird sounds and
? finally a situation without music or bird sounds, but with background sounds.
? It has been examined how the different types of passengers in peak hours or off-peak hours react to the different sorts of music.

Design & Methodology
2400 respondents, all members of the Dutch Railway customer?s panel, took part in this experiment, which was held online via internet on a personal computer. They got involved in an exercise in a virtual train station, were they got the task to catch a certain train. The experiment has a 2 (utilitarian vs hedonistic) x 2 (busy vs quiet) x 7 (music genres) between subjects experimental design.
By means of a scenario the travel motive of the passenger (utilitarian vs hedonistic) was manipulated. A questionnaire was presented after the respondent had found and caught the train. The questionnaire assessed cognitive and affective responses to the waiting time, the waiting environment and the music.

The most important result of this study is that the presence of music causes extra stimulation, which makes people more cognitively loaded. This results in people feeling on average less secure and less ?in control?.
When we have a closer look at the results we see that women evaluate music as more atmospheric, more impressive, more delightful and more appropriate to the situation at railway stations than men. In addition, the study proves that happy and relaxing music creates the expected state of mind; stimulating versus calming. Waiting time was rated as more agreeable, pleasant, useful and valuable in the appropriate situation. It turns out that during busy hours relaxing music or no music at all works best, whereas happy music gives the best results during the off-peak hours. The Reversal Theory has been confirmed by these results.
To summarize: this study shows that music makes a positive contribution to the experience of railway stations, provided that the specific situation has been taken into consideration.


Association for European Transport