Understanding Train Perception to Define a Targetted Communication Strategy

Considering challenges of daily sustainable mobility, transport authorities aim to promote modal shift from private car to train for periurban, regional and national travels. Nowadays, there is a consensus to say that the only rail services improvements (frequency, travel time, cost) are not sufficient to attract new users. This questions the methods of rails services communication plans mainly based on the promotion of supply and pricing. How to promote efficiently rail services uses? How to encourage drivers to leave their car? These issues are part of concerns of transport authorities. Scientific works have highlighted that the decision-making process of modal choice results from a compromise between performance parameters of modes and other criteria that more relate to subjectivity. They concern emotional and symbolic attributes that depend on the universe of individuals values and habits, and also on their own lifes. An approach based on the perception of a transport mode may help to understand these different criteria of modal choice. Indeed, the transport modes perception inevitably affects the individuals’ choice and predisposition to change their modal behavior. Some communication strategies have been already led all around the world based on individualized travel marketing methods. But they focus on voluntary drivers who are in a situation of modal choice but are willing to change their travel mode. How to act on all drivers in order to make then questioning about their modal choice? This exploratory work is based on the assumption that the individuals expectations about a mode may be known by the representation of the mode they give. Concerning railway services, the analysis uses the results of a regional household travel survey implemented in a region of Northern France. The train perception was addressed through adjectives. Among the sample, a specific analysis identifies car drivers who have a realistic train alternative according to supply criteria such as trip chaining, travel time ratio comparing train and car, number of transfert connections, and egress and access time. The profile of people concerned by a potential modal shift is very similar to the current train users one, except the fact that 75% of them never use the train! The train perception of this sample highlights that there is a large corpus of verbatim to talk about the train. The results show that it is essentially made up of a quadrupling of attributes. Convenience is combined with transport mode utility, performance and emotional and sensory aspects. These perceptions are also defined by an opposition between functional criteria (convenience, performance) and subjective ones, especially related to the feelings of each individual. The authors may say that these representation more reflects a personal interest than a collective one. All car drivers do not have refractory opinion on the train. 27% of these drivers have a positive image of the train while 42% have a negative one. Having a positive or negative perception of the train depends on several factors including lived experience and profile of individuals. They give some negative qualifiers such as unreliability and slowness, insufficient services, high cost but also constraint and unsuitable services. And they consider train services are crowded, noisy, unpleasant and dangerous. The analysis of the train perceptions is an interesting tool to complete the communication strategy plan. Indeed, although it is a territorial study, it emphasizes the needs to go on on acting at least on three traditional subjects : train usefuless, the performance by comparison to the car (speed, cost) and convenience. But it also underlines the needs to act on subjective points of view (crowded, uncomfortable, dangerous) that may more result from media or family representations than an objective point of view since 75% of drivers never use the train. Moreover, another key lesson is that there is a need to take action using different strata of the population, by implementing various and varied ways of action such as awareness, promotion, or even targeted communication processes. The authors work highlights the particular case of executives and intermediate professions who talk about the convenient aspect of the train, and at the same time, compare it with constraints, inadequate services and unreliability. It also underlines that stakeholders have to consider the different generations, in particular young people and people of working age.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Pagination: 11p
  • Monograph Title: European Transport Conference 2019

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01751299
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 21 2020 12:45PM