According to the Railway Act, the Rail Regulatory Body must consult representatives of railway freight and passenger transport service users once every two years in order to take into account their views on the rail transport market. This is a new task and the views of passenger service users were heard for the first time in an online panel realised by IRO Research on 1–7 March 2017. The sample was supplemented with telephone interviews.
The final number of respondents was 681. The sample was weighted by gender, age and place of residence to reflect the Finnish adult general population. The respondents were primarily people with experience of rail travel in long-distance and/or local transport. In addition, those with no experience of rail travel were asked about, e.g. reasons for not travelling by train.
According to the study, 93% of the customers of long-distance transport considered the price of the train journey as an extremely or fairly important factor when selecting a mode of transport. Greater emphasis is given to the ticket price in long-distance transport than in local transport. The respondents had extremely positive views on conductor services, safety and order on the train as well as service provided by other staff. Punctuality and adherence to timetables were rated as the poorest areas.
In local rail transport, timetables that were easy to find and read, price of the train journey, sufficiently frequent train departures and connection speed were named as the most important selection criteria. In addition to these factors, just over half of the customers of local rail transport found it important that tickets could be purchased at a ticket agency at the railway station, for instance. Views on ticket vendor service and smoothness of travel were highly positive. The cleanliness of the trains received the poorest rating.
Among the respondents with no experience of rail travel, timetables that were easy to find and read, price of the train journey and connection speed emerged as the most important selection criteria. Additionally, just over two out of three respondents found it important that tickets could be purchased at a ticket agency at the railway station. The most apparent reason to avoid train travel was travelling by one's own car or by bus. This choice is probably underlined by the easiness and smoothness of the mode of transport and train not providing a realistic travel alternative. Train travel is clearly decreasing with an increase in the distance to the nearest railway station.
In all of the study groups, having versatile services available at the stations, and making requests on and reserving tickets by telephone were mentioned as the least important selection criteria in both long-distance and local transport as well as among the respondents with no experience of rail travel.
In connection with accessibility and using the services provided at stations, the train passengers gave highest ratings to the safety and functionality of the railway platform area, adequacy of timetables to customer needs and the functionality of displays. The respondents' views were most critical regarding the comfort of the social and waiting facilities as well as ticket sales.
The total score given to the quality of long-distance transport service is fairly good at 8.14 on a scale of 4 to 10. The total score given to local transport is 7.96.
Based on the results, areas of strength of train travel can be considered to include adequacy of timetables to customer needs, service provided by conductors and other staff, functionality and safety of the railway platform area and the smoothness of travel and changing trains, especially in local rail transport. Essential development targets for train travel services include ticket sales at the railway station, the comfort of social facilities in the stations as well as the punctuality and adherence to timetables in long-distance travel.
For more information about the study, please contact
Special Adviser Mertti Anttila, Rail Regulatory Body, tel. +358 40 502 4911
Research Director Tomi Ronkainen, IROResearch Oy, tel. +358 50 304 2397