The opportunity for rail travel is clear, Amadeus reports in a new study, noting that 77 percent of those surveyed would choose to catch an international high-speed train instead of taking another means of transport, if the cost is competitive.
The new Amadeus and YouGov survey focused on European travelers, surveying over 7,000 rail passengers across six countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). The results provide insights on traveler expectations and preferences that speak to the future of long-distance, international high-speed rail travel - in Europe and the U.S.
Key findings from the survey include:
The seamless journey: Almost 60 per cent of those surveyed indicated that they would like to be able to reserve “connecting rail travel and other modes of transport” (i.e. one ticket for every transport mode taken on one journey) in advance of their journey. Of the countries surveyed, Sweden (71 percent), Germany (64 percent) and Spain (63 percent) rated this option higher than any of the other services listed.
Amadeus reports that hose surveyed also indicated they would like to pre-book “on-board entertainment or Wi-Fi” (46 percent), “fast track check-in and security” (38 percent) and “hotel bookings, transfers and travel insurance” (37 percent). Notably, the percentage of UK adults (17 percent) wanting “access to VIP and business lounges” was higher than in other countries.
Knowing your customer: More than half (52 percent) of survey respondents indicated they expect rail providers to know their “preferred seat position and location”. Furthermore, knowledge of passengers’ “total travel itinerary” (46 percent) (i.e. connecting flights, hotel accommodation and car rental) and technology preferences (39 percent) were also identified as key pieces of information of which rail providers should be aware. However, respondents in Spain (32 percent), France (26 percent) and Italy (25 percent) would like rail providers to be aware of their favorite destinations.
The future of rail: Survey participants were asked what they expected to find at an international railway station by 2014. Over 70 per cent of those surveyed expect to find comfortable seating and relaxation areas. The second most popular service, mobile payments, was selected by two-fifths of respondents (40 percent).
Other services that people hoped to see in the future included a concierge service, which was particularly popular among Italians (41 percent). Nearly a third of Spanish adults (31 percent) said they would expect a “gaming and entertainment suite,” in comparison to only one in fourteen German adults (7 percent).
Why switch? In addition to competitive pricing, respondents said they would choose a long distance, high-speed, international train journey rather than flying or driving if it was a “more enjoyable and comfortable experience” (52 percent), had a “lower risk of disruption and cancelations” (51 percent) and if there were “seamless connections to other services (e.g. car rental, flights) to take you to your final destination” (46 percent).
When respondents were asked which celebrity they would most like to sit next to on an international train journey, responses were varied. The most popular celebrity mentioned amongst UK respondents was Stephen Fry; George Clooney came top among French and Spanish respondents; and Raoul Bova is the hot favorite with Italian adults. However, celebrities made way for politicians in Sweden and Germany, where most survey respondents stated their preferred companion to be Barack Obama (Sweden) and Angela Merkel (Germany).
Thomas Drexler, head of Amadeus Rail, commented, “The renaissance of rail is truly underway. The next three years will see the transformation of rail as it firmly establishes itself as a truly international form of high-speed travel. The survey results provide insights into what rail travelers demand of rail companies in the future if they are to make rail a real option for cross-border journeys. The next frontier is to deliver a seamless travel experience based on knowing the needs and expectations of tomorrow’s traveler, and this survey goes some way towards meeting that challenge.”