With passengers returning to UK rail, Ben Ackroyd, Chief Operating Officer at Porterbrook, explores how the increased use of data analytics will be key in delivering better reliability and will play a huge part in retaining passenger growth.
History will look back on August 2022 as a difficult time for UK railways, with several days of strike action across the network leading to severe service disruption for passengers.
However, when looking at passenger statistics on the days that were not affected by industrial action, August also brought some very positive news for the industry.
Figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT) revealed that train passenger levels reached 95 per cent of pre-pandemic levels on 10 August 2022. In fact, for seven straight days from 6 August 2022, they did not dip below 93 per cent. All of this happened against the backdrop of the strikes and many people being away on their summer holidays.
Increasing the use of analytics can lead to improving reliability for passengers.
Winning back passengers
Passengers are coming back to rail, and it is reasonable to assume that the numbers will continue to rise into the autumn. The challenge across the industry is: now that passengers are coming back, how do we get them to stick with rail travel?
The answer to that question is no surprise to anyone who has been working in the rail industry for a long time: punctuality and reliability. Repeated surveys have shown that this has, by far, the biggest impact on passenger satisfaction. For all the excellent advances we have seen in passenger experience on trains over the last decade – Wi-Fi connectivity, multiple power points, digital ticketing, to name a few – these only matter to a passenger if, first and foremost, the train runs on time.
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