If you want to lure young people onto trains – boost the WiFi. That is one of the many messages highlighted in a recent series of polls commissioned and collated by Evo-Rail, a subsidiary of First Group and a supplier of 5G mm-wave systems to the rail industry.
Admittedly, Evo-Rail has a clear vested interest in encouraging the rail industry to improve train to shore connectivity and on-board WiFi. All the same, an impressive number of travellers and would-be train passengers responding to the survey, said that they would be more likely to catch a train in the UK (on a non-strike day), if “fast and reliable” WiFi is available.
Overall, 41% of adults aged 16 to 75 in the UK said they would be more likely to consider taking the train over other modes of transport (e.g., car, plane, etc.), if train companies provided fast, reliable on-board WiFi.
However, this proportion significantly increased when asking younger generations the same question. 64% of respondents aged 16-24 and 59% of those aged 25-34 said they were more likely to choose rail travel over other modes of transport, should they have access to fast, reliable on-board WiFi.
Perhaps one of the most telling findings of the report is that a previous poll, commissioned by Opinium, found that the significance of good quality internet on trains is seen to be growing with 67% of travellers, who responded, saying it will become more important in the future. This compares to only 7% who think it will be less important to their future choice of travel.
The full report can be downloaded for free here … https://www.evo-rail.com/resources/#press_release
Discerning the actual numbers of new passengers that might be persuaded to jump on board a train solely because it has WiFi is very difficult to tell. Several years ago, Jim Allison of CCJPA in the US, teamed up with Patricia Mokhtarian, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California Davis, to develop a major survey designed to give a definitive answer that would take account of all outside factors, such as fuel-prices, road congestion, parking charges etc.
In the end, Prof Mokhtarian’s team, using statistical tools and academic rigour, were able to isolate a figure for the increase in ridership that was solely down to trains having free WiFi. Their report found that the actual increase in ticket sales due purely to the introduction of on-board connectivity was between 2% and 4%. However, this actually meant that the business case for adding WiFi was greatly strengthened – as even a low per centage increase in ticket sales produced an impressive dollar amount that went straight to the bottom line.
Boosting track-side wireless coverage and the emergence of new technology and systems to improve WiFi on board trains, will all be discussed by train operators, rail administrators and suppliers at this year’s global WiFi on Trains Conference - Traincomms 2022.
The Full Programme is Available now … www.Traincomms.com
(Where you can also sign up for our Free WiFi on Trains News Service).
Or, if you have any questions at all about the conference - please contact Ross.Parsons@BWCS.com
This year’s Conference is sponsored by Westermo, Nomad, GlobalReach Technology and RADWIN.