Rail Passengers' Time Use and Utility Assessment 2010 Findings from Great Britain with Multivariate Analysis

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

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


travel time, rail passengers, onboard activity, communication technology


This paper uses data from Great Britain's National Passenger Survey 2010 to examine the travel time use of rail passengers and their indicative assessment of the utility of that time use. The paper explores the impacts of individuals' sociodemographic characteristics, the activities undertaken, and the perceived difficulties that may be faced by the travelers on their assessment of travel time use utility. The study showed that only 13% of travelers considered their travel time to be wasted time. However, this result varied by journey purpose, traveling class (first or standard class), gender, and journey length. The study showed that the positive or negative appreciation by passengers of their journey time was a result not only of various combinations of onboard activity engagements, but also of the smoothness of the overall journey experience. The ability to work or study on the train most significantly increased individual appreciation of time use. However, a delay on an individual's train journey also had a major influence on the reduction of his or her perceived value of the travel time spent. Information and communication technology devices that enable travelers to watch film or video, play games, or check e-mails were more appreciated than those devices that provide access to music, podcasts, or social networking sites. The paper joins others in questioning the assumptions made in economic appraisals that travel time is unproductive. The paper concludes with a call for more substantive and targeted data collection efforts within travel behavior research devoted to further unraveling the phenomenon of the positive utility of travel.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.