Impact of the Recession on the Rail Sector and Its Response
C Heywood, R Sheldon, Accent, UK; B Condry, ATOC, UK
This paper discusses the results of a study conducted by Accent and commissioned by ATOC into the impacts of the recession on the rail and other commercial sectors.
The aim for this research was to address the following:
? How can TOCs (and the rail industry as a whole) best respond to the current recession (and to downturns more generally) in order to continue to maximise and grow passenger demand and revenue, given the existing regulatory constraints?
? How do different user segments respond in a recession, and how can marketing be tailored in the most effective manner (eg what products should TOCs be marketing, and to whom)?
? What factors are within the industry?s (and specifically TOCs) control and what is the impact of changing these in the context of a recession?
This paper discusses the results of a study conducted by Accent and commissioned by ATOC into these issues. The research used multiple methodologies, including depth interviews with management from TOCs/other sectors, as well as attitudinal and behavioural studies with public and business representatives.
The conclusions are illuminating, shedding light on how expenditure patterns have changed, certainly in the short term, and on apparent differences in commercial strategy adopted within the rail sector when compared with other sectors.
An industry workshop focusing on any underlying causes for the findings revealed that the franchising process and structure could be cited as playing a key role in this.
A particular focus of the research is on the perception of the rail industry in the recession. There were a wide variety of opinions, varying by industry type and other dimensions, as to how well the rail sector responded to the recession. Implications for how the TOCs can improve their brand image and public relations strategies in forthcoming economic difficulties are discussed.
Association for European Transport