The Value of Comfort in Train Appraisal



The Value of Comfort in Train Appraisal

Authors

Pim Warffemius, KiM Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis, Mark Van Hagen, NS Netherlands Railways, Menno De Bruyn, NS Netherlands Railways

Description

This paper presents insights into the productive use of rail travel time as based on available data from value of time and value of reliability studies conducted in The Netherlands as well as available data from Netherlands Railways (NS).

Abstract

The value of comfort in train appraisal


Pim Warffemius, Peter Bakker, Jan van der Waard (KiM Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis, Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment)
Mark van Hagen, Menno de Bruyn (NS Netherlands Railways)


Evidence has shown that both personal and business travelers use the travel time spent in public transport as an opportunity to work, conduct business or enjoy the trip. This paper presents insights into the productive use of rail travel time as based on available data from value of time and value of reliability studies conducted in The Netherlands (completed in 2013), as well as available data from Netherlands Railways (NS) pertaining to activities performed during train trips.

This direct utility of travel time is affected by various factors, such as the comfort of the mode and the ability to use travel time productively, owing to for instance improved IT and Wi-Fi support on trains, as well as the ability to save time during the day by opting to have breakfast during the travel time instead of at home. An increase in public transport service quality reduces the generalized costs of travel time (in euro’s per hour) and thus provides benefits comparable to the speed improvements that reduce the total travel time. There is a large body of valuation studies pertaining to convenience and comfort factors. Valuations are typically expressed in equivalent units of the valuation of travel time savings (VTTS) and can be included in a cost-benefit analysis (CBA).

However, such service benefits are not generally covered as well as they should be in policy and project assessments, either because of an absence of official economic appraisal procedures or due to limitations in the coverage of existing appraisal methods. This skews planning and investment decisions. Consequently, some cost-effective transit improvements are overlooked and undervalued, resulting in underinvestment in transit service quality, which renders the transit less attractive.

In this paper we also present a new and practical method to appraise the various levels of service offered to train travelers. Moreover, the paper describes how the benefits of an improved service level can be included in a CBA, and concludes by discussing the various policy impacts of better capturing the comfort aspects of a project.

Publisher

Association for European Transport