Train travel in corona time: Safety perceptions of and support for policy measures

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, place - europe, planning - methods, planning - personal safety/crime, ridership - perceptions


Covid19, Safety perception, Train travel, Transport policy support, Stated choice experiment, Mediation model


To minimize the risk of becoming infected by the Coronavirus while traveling by train, the national government and the Dutch railways' operator (NS) in the Netherlands have taken several policy measures. These involve that passengers have to wear masks and guidelines are issued for working at home and teaching online. In addition, other policy measures, such as introducing a reservation system, were considered. To examine to what extent train travelers support policy measures and how these change their perception of becoming infected while traveling by train, a stated preference experiment is conducted. Respondents were asked to evaluate various combinations of policy measures, both whether they consider it safe to travel by train under the stated conditions and whether they would vote in favor of the policy package in a referendum. To analyze the data, a mediation choice model is developed, which allows disentangling the direct effect of the policy measures on support and the indirect effect mediated by infection safety perception. To illustrate this, the results show that implementing the policy measure teaching on campus with later starting times would decrease travelers’ infection safety perception and therefore indirectly decrease its support. However, the positive direct effect on support suggests that travelers like this option better than teaching online, the guideline that applied at the time of data collection. The direct and indirect effects cancel each other out, indicating that this alternative policy measure would not count on more support than the guideline teaching online. Furthermore, this paper examines the heterogeneity in the support for policy measures by presenting and discussing the results of a Latent Class Choice Model. Amongst others, the results reveal that one class strongly supports the policy measure reservation system, while another class stongly opposes this measure, suggesting that implementing this measure is not trivial as suggested by its moderate effects at the aggregate level.


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


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