Lyons, Glenn and McLay, Graeme
The role of information in the UK passenger rail industry
Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 6, No. 3, Centre for Urban Transportation Research, US, 2003, pp1-14., 3, (3), .
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In 1993, the U.K. passenger rail industry was privatized with expectations of greater investment, increased efficiency, and improved network performance. To date, progress has been mixed and the industry has been subject to a critical national press and passenger complaints that have reached record levels. The industry is continuing to develop a service that can do justice to its privatization. Passenger information is an important aspect of these improvements and national rail journey planning services are now heavily used. However, relatively little consideration has been given to understanding the role that information might play in assisting passengers who have already planned their journey but who encounter problems when they travel by train. Failure to execute a journey as planned can be severely disruptive to rail passengers in terms of lost time, expense, anxiety, and frustration. This article charts the development of the privatized rail industry and defines a set of journey breakdown situations that can be encountered by passengers. Insights are gained from passenger complaint letters. Such letters typically provide detailed accounts of journey breakdowns, attempts to recover the situations, and the use made of available information. Inaccurate or misunderstood pre-trip information is found to be a factor in many journey breakdowns. Accessible, timely, and appropriate provision of en-route information can improve passengers' satisfaction by enabling completion of their immediate journey and might also be decisive in ensuring they have the confidence to use the rail network again in the future.
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