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Project title

Use of passenger loading data to influence behaviour (COF-ICE-03)

  • Project number:

  • Topic:

    Public Behaviour
  • Status:


Project Summary

A study of Gatwick Express passengers, which sought to determine whether stated preferences concerning information provided about crowding levels on specific trains and carriages could influence travel choices and potentially mitigate the adverse effects of crowding.

Project Abstract

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Crowded trains can adversely affect the experience of rail passengers. They can also cause practical issues for train operators, especially if slow boarding and alighting at stations makes it hard to maintain tight dwell times. It is thought that some of these issues can be mitigated by providing better information to passengers and encouraging them to make different travel choices as a result. At one level, the choice of carriage on a particular train is important – by spreading passenger loading more evenly throughout a train, it may be possible to reduce the number of instances of overcrowding. At another level, the choice of train itself is important. If passengers can be encouraged to travel on alternative, more lightly loaded, services this will also help to mitigate some of the problems.

An increasing number of data sources for monitoring train loading are becoming available, including on-train systems which can estimate the number of passengers in a given carriage. Methods of communicating with passengers are also becoming more sophisticated, with an increased use of real-time information systems and a high proportion of smartphones.

The study looked at Gatwick Express passengers and their stated preferences concerning information provided about crowding levels on specific trains and carriages.

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