High-speed rail must evolve to meet changing traveller demands

15th Nov 2011
High-speed rail must evolve to meet changing traveller demands

Amadeus, a leading travel technology partner and transaction processor for the global travel and tourism industry, today announces the results of a pan-European rail passenger survey conducted by YouGov, the leading professional research and consulting organisation.

Over 7,000 rail passengers across six European countries – France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom – were polled in the survey which explores traveller expectations and preferences for rail travel as long-distance, international high-speed rail travel becomes more popular.

The results of the survey, which was nationally representative of each market surveyed, demonstrated marked differences across all of the six countries polled and offer valuable insights to rail companies looking to modernise and improve the customer experience. The opportunity for rail is clear as 77 per cent of those surveyed would choose to catch an international high speed train instead of taking another means of transport, if the cost is competitive.

Key findings from the survey include:

The seamless journey: the holy grail
Almost 60 per cent of those surveyed indicated that they would like to be able to reserve “connecting rail travel and other modes of transport” (i.e. one ticket for every transport mode taken on one journey) in advance of their journey. Of the countries surveyed, Sweden (71%), Germany (64%) and Spain (63%) rated this option higher than any of the other services listed.

Those surveyed also indicated they would like to pre-book “on-board entertainment or Wi-Fi” (46%), “fast track check-in and security” (38%) and “hotel bookings, transfers and travel insurance” (37%). Notably, the percentage of UK adults (17%) wanting “access to VIP and business lounges” was higher than in other countries.


Knowing your customer
More than half (52%) of survey respondents indicated they expect rail providers to know their “preferred seat position and location”. Furthermore, knowledge of passengers’ “total travel itinerary” (46%) (i.e. connecting flights, hotel accommodation and car rental) and technology preferences (39%) were also identified as key pieces of information of which rail providers should be aware of. However, respondents in Spain (32%), France (26%) and Italy (25%) would like rail providers to be aware of their favourite destinations.

The future of rail
Survey participants were asked what they expected to find at an international railway station by 2014. Over 70 per cent of those surveyed expect to find comfortable seating and relaxation areas. The second most popular service, mobile payments, was selected by two fifths of respondents (40%).

Other services which people hoped to see in the future included a concierge service which was particularly popular amongst Italians (41%). Nearly a third of Spanish adults (31%) said they would expect a “gaming and entertainment suite”, in comparison to only one in fourteen German adults (7%).

Why switch?
In addition to competitive pricing, respondents said they would choose a long distance, high speed, international train journey rather than flying or driving if it was a “more enjoyable and comfortable experience” (52%), had a “lower risk of disruption and cancellations” (51%) and if there was “seamless connections to other services (e.g. car rental, flights) to take you to your final destination” (46%).

When respondents were asked which celebrity they would most like to sit next to on an international train journey, responses were varied. The most popular celebrity mentioned amongst UK respondents was Stephen Fry; George Clooney came top amongst French and Spanish respondents; and Raoul Bova is the hot favourite with Italian adults. However, celebrities made way for politicians in Sweden and Germany where most survey respondents stated their preferred companion to be Barack Obama (Sweden) and Angela Merkel (Germany).

Thomas Drexler, Head of Amadeus Rail, commented: “The renaissance of rail is truly underway. The next three years will see the transformation of rail as it firmly establishes itself as a truly international form of high speed travel. The survey results provide insights into what rail travellers demand of rail companies in the future if they are to make rail a real option for cross-border journeys. The next frontier is to deliver a seamless travel experience based on knowing the needs and expectations of tomorrow’s traveller and this survey goes some way towards meeting that challenge.”


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