The Power of a Pleasant Train Journey
Mark Van Hagen, Netherlands Railways, Menno De Bruyn, Netherlands Railways, Evelien Ten Elsen, Netherlands Railways
In an extensive quantitative research we found that pleasant activities have a stronger effect on the trip valuation than useful activities.
Train travelers in the Netherlands spend on average 36 minutes on the train. A big part of that time can be spent on a wide range of activities. These activities can be divided into two main groups: useful activities and pleasant activities. The kind of activities carried out during the train trip varies, amongst others, by trip purpose and trip length.
A number of these activities can also be carried out during a car trip. Some however require visual attention, which makes them not fit for a car trip. Especially these activities increase the value of the train trip, and give the train a competitive advantage over the car.
In an extensive quantitative research we found that the valuation of the train trip highly depends on the extent to which the travel time can be spent in a useful or pleasant way, and on whether the traveler was able to perform the activities he/she planned. It is remarkable to notice that pleasant activities have a stronger effect on the trip valuation than useful activities.
Another unexpected result from the research is the fact that the activity that is the reason for the trip (e.g. working at the office, going to a museum or visiting friends) also has a big impact on the trip valuation. Especially activities that are regarded as ‘special’ or ‘pleasant’ result in a higher valuation of the trip towards these activities.
As a valuation of these findings we carried out several experiments on pleasant activities during the train trip:
• Pink Monday Express: singing and dancing in the train on the way to the Tilburg Fair
• Drie Uurkes Vurraf Express (Three Hours in Advance Express): dancing and drinking on the train heading for the Carnical kick of
• Glow Express: light art with ocular rift on the train trip towards the Light Festival in Eindhoven
From these experiments we learned that they have a huge impact on the valuation of the train trip. Part of this is caused by the pleasant and special activities that are the reason for the trip, but part is also caused by the pleasant time spent during the trip. The fact that the activities on the train and at the destination are in sync even increases the effect.
Association for European Transport