Hedonic value of high-speed rail services: Quantitative analysis of the students’ domestic tourist attractiveness of the main Italian cities

High-Speed Rail (HSR) is a transport mode that operates significantly faster than traditional services, using integrated and specialized rolling stock, and often dedicated tracks. These rapid transit services have profoundly impacted mobility habits on medium-long range journeys, and have also brought about social, economic, and environmental changes in the geographical areas involved. HSR has become a successful “brand”, including not only faster trains, but also a number of other on-board services that increase rail attractiveness (e.g. restaurants, wi-fi connection, free newspapers, cinema, business areas and relaxation lounges). Starting from these considerations, in this research the authors investigated the conjecture according to which a traveler, in choosing an HSR service to reach a destination (against a traditional rail service, or other competing transport modes), is not only influenced by its original peculiarity as a “faster train” service, but also takes into account the presence of all the “hedonic” characteristics of the service. That said, the literature in transportation modeling has yet to analyze the impact of hedonic quality on travelers’ behavior by quantifying whether and to what extent it increases their propensity to use HSR services. Aim of this research was twofold: i) to quantify, for the first time in the literature, the hedonic value of an HSR service related to a domestic tourist trip, as compared to more conventional levels of service and attractiveness attributes; ii) investigate the domestic tourist attractiveness of the main Italian cities, evaluating which attributes influence the perception of a city as a domestic tourist destination. The application case study consists in the supply of current rail services (HSR vs. traditional) between the 11 main Italian cities in terms of tourist destination. On the basis of an revealed preferences & stated preferecnes (RP&SP) survey, carried out among university students at national scale, a binomial logit model was specified with serial correlation in residuals, estimating whether or not the cities in the panel were perceived as possible destinations for a domestic tourist trips made by train. The estimation results show that city-specific attractiveness attributes (entertainment and restaurant rate; number of sites of interests; crime rate), and level of services variables (e.g. travel time and cost; HSR brand ) significantly influence the perception of a city as a possible destination for a domestic tourist trip by train. Furthermore, the average monetary value for the “pure preference” for the HSR brand (faster trains, high frequency, and on-board services) is about 22 Euros/trip, while the hedonic value relative only to on-board services is about 12 Euros/trip , underlining that the “faster train” is only one of the perceived attributes of HSR services. Overall, the willingness to pay for an HSR ticket is up to 40% greater than that for a traditional one. Furthermore, tourists are willing to spend 2.2 h more travelling on an HSR train to reach their destinations. The estimation results show that there is also a “distance traveled effect”; the pure preference for HSR services increases in value from 9 Euros/trip to 13 Euros/trip (+44%) for distances traveled greater than 400 km. If confirmed, these results allow the conclusion to be drawn that the “catchment area” of cities on HSR networks is larger than that served by traditional rail.


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  • Accession Number: 01639155
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 27 2017 4:10PM