Working on the train: from ‘dead time’ to productive and vital time

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, place - europe, ridership - behaviour, ridership - commuting


ICT, Norway, Survey, Time-use, Train, Work


The conventional approach to the study of travel time is to see it as ‘dead time’, i.e. time that should be minimized. In this paper, we study time-use on trains, especially in relation to the use of information and communication technology for work purposes. The empirical results are based on a survey of rail travellers in Norway in 2008. It was found that a high proportion of ordinary commuters and business people work on board while travelling by train, i.e. 35 % of commuters and 43 % of business people. Nearly every fourth commuter gets their travel time approved as working hours. Most respondents had some sort of electronic device with them on board, and 25 % travelling for work-related purposes use a laptop computer. Only 10 % report that their travel time is of no use. Knowledge of how travel time is utilized is indispensable in the discussion about the evaluation of travel time in cost-benefit analysis. The use of travel time can also be important for choice of transport mode in the assessment of travel time versus work options.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by SpringerLink, however, copyright remains with them.