Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, operations - crowding, place - australasia, ridership - behaviour, ridership - perceptions


crowding, rail commute, ridership perceptions, behaviour


For many people in Australia, crowding is a major issue and an unavoidable aspect of their daily rail commute. Australian passenger experiences, perceptions of, and their reactions to crowding are not well understood. To gain an understanding of passenger perceptions and tolerance of railway crowding and the impact of passenger behaviour on the crowding experience, qualitative (Stage 1) and quantitative (Stage 2) fieldwork was undertaken between 2009 and 2010 across the five metropolitan railways in Australia. Some results from Stage 1, a two-part qualitative study are given. This involved ethnographic participant observations on trains in five States and 20 focus groups with a total of 179 Australian rail passengers. Focus group participants discussed their reactions to being in close proximity to others in a closed environment and these are examined. This paper will explore the ways in which passengers experience, tolerate and construct perceptions of crowdedness through both avoidance techniques and interactions with fellow passengers.