Curating Railway Travel Through Personal Data: Habit and Context

Curating Railway Travel Through Personal Data: Habit and Context


Shalaka Kurup, Horizon Centre for Doctoral Training, University of Nottingham, Nick Wilson, Association of Train Operating Companies


Daily commuting involves – frequency, stress and habit. Commuters face crowding and delays, TOCs are confronted with their management, resulting in a shared problem. The paper explores a shared solution, the digital curation of customer information


This paper will explore concepts surrounding the idea of digital curation of the personal data of railway travellers, particularly those involved in the daily commute. There are recognised characteristics of the daily commute – its frequency, the possible involvement of stress, and the fact that it is habitual (Aarts, Verplanken & van Knippenberg, 1997). While frequent travellers face challenges related to crowding and delays, train operating companies are confronted with their management, resulting in a shared problem. An important step towards a shared solution, as proposed by this paper, would involve the digital curation of customer information.

The curation of personal data in the railway industry would be a structured process, consisting of the careful selection, appreciation and documentation of customer information, in order to deliver focused information and travel services. With a focus on the challenges surrounding the daily commute, the aim is to use this data in a manner that attempts to consolidate and match the motivations and intentions of the frequent traveller to the requirements of train operating companies. An example of the opportunities and challenges of curated journeys is through managing overcrowding. Returning to the notion of frequent travel being a habitual process, crowding at peak times is a product of shared work times, and thus, shared habitual travel among a number of daily commuters. With habit being difficult to influence, this poses a problem for the train operating companies attempting load balancing, and managing disrupted travel, at these times.

There are two key aspects to consider regarding habit – it influences daily decision making, and is difficult to alter. However, studies have found that habit in the face of contextual change is more easily influenced (Wood, Tam & Witt, 2005; Verplanken, Walker, Davis & Jurasek, 2008). Contextual change could involve life events such as moving house, changing jobs or having a baby, for example, with people more accepting of suggestions that modify their daily habits after such occurrences.
This requires a strategic shift in the analysis of personal data away from the examination of basic travel information, moving towards a more general understanding of traveller’s lifestyles. Lifestyle information could be crucial to understanding points at which daily travel habits could be influenced, particularly in reference to life events that involve some form of contextual change.

This paper will provide an overview of the processes that need to be considered with regard to the curation of travel information, and the resulting opportunities to improve daily commuting.


Association for European Transport