Less Haste, More Speed: How Research Has Been Used to Design Service Improvements Made Possible by the Released Capacity from High Speed 2
I Wright, Passenger Focus; C Judge, Network Rail, UK
How one of the largest pieces of trade off research in the UK transport sector enabled a highly robust model to predict passenger preferences assuming HS2 is built, and how this has been used to design service and capacity improvements.
Background and Objectives
The Department for Transport asked Passenger Focus, in partnership with Network Rail, to undertake research to understand what passengers might want from freed up capacity on the WCML should HS2 go ahead. We collected feedback from passengers who currently use the WCML to make train journeys ("existing users"), as well as potential passengers who currently make equivalent journeys by car ("car drivers"). Over 6,000 questionnaires were completed for this survey, and the project was peer-reviewed by the University of Leeds Institute for Transport Studies
Paper questionnaires were handed out to passengers who currently use the WCML, at train stations. Commuter, business and leisure passengers were included in the survey that covered 66 individual routes along the WCML.
Routes were classified into five segments:
- London suburban
- London urban
- West Midlands suburban
- London interurban
- Non-London interurban
The questionnaire included a "trade-off" section, where passengers were shown pairs of train service scenarios and asked which of each pair they preferred. The scenarios included different levels for each of the following:
- frequency of train
- journey time
- time taken for any interchange (on relevant routes only)
We used Choice Based Conjoint analysis (Stated Preference) to determine which changes are likely to deliver the greatest improvements to passengers.
Due to the large number of questionnaires returned for the existing user survey, we were able to construct a non-linear model (using Multinomial Logit) from the data.
Car drivers were also interviewed in a separate exercise to ascertain which improvements to train journeys are most likely to encourage modal switch.
- Crowding and the need for/length of interchange have the most influence on the quality of passenger experience, out of the four factors that were assessed.
- Passengers care about getting a seat and are concerned to a lesser degree about crowding once they have a seat, or the level of space available once they are standing. The model was able to identify an unusually high aversion to crowding amongst commuters, perhaps because of the long commutes some make on WCML.
- Passengers care about having direct services. The time provided to interchange is less important
- Passengers are reluctant to change at all.
Network Rail used the results of the Passenger Focus research supported by dialogue with local authorities and members of the Strategic Freight Network steering group, to articulate the key requirements of current and potential future rail users through a series of conditional outputs. These outputs will form the basis for the development of a future service specification for the WCML informing the requirements for the long-term capability of the route.
Association for European Transport