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Post Graduate Research... Can you Help?

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stig beve

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Hi all
I am steve, a Post Grad student currently writing my dissertation for my Masters degree. I am in the research Phase and would really benefit from the input of the members of Rail UK forums as my project is a Uk rail service based project..

The way you could help is by filling out this short... very short tick box questionnaire. There are no personal questions so nothing to worry about like that.

if you have a free minute just click the following link

:)

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CMJ75Z3

thanks all

steve
 
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telstarbox

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Hi Steve,

I have completed the survey but I think all three of your ideas for redeveloping on-board facilities are flawed. From the way you've presented the questions I assume they only relate to long-distance services such as Virgin Trains.

Separate teen/family/business carriages - a separate family or business coach is a good idea and already exists on some services (SBB's family coach, Chiltern's Business Zone). The problem is that many inter-city services are very busy, particularly in the PM peak and on weekends. If you had a separate "teen" or "family" coach and the rest of the train was full and standing would you turn them back into normal coaches?

Some long-distance trains only have 4, 5 or 8 coaches. Dedicating so much space to specific passenger groups will increase overcrowding in the rest of the train.

If you get rid of First Class you will lose a significant proportion of the business travel market who value the quiet environment in FC to work. These passengers (or more usually their employers) also buy the most expensive Anytime tickets, so this would significantly harm revenue.

Onboard facilities - do you really think people would use a Post Office or bank branch on a train? Post Offices are closing as more of the services they provide can be done in alternative ways, such as renewing car tax online or having benefits paid direct into bank accounts. A bank branch could only be used by its own customers - at least half the customers on the train wouldn't be able to use the facilities even if it was one of the largest banks - and it would waste space which could be taken up by seats. Again, the trend is towards online banking, avoiding the need to visit a branch.

A Costa Coffee or Starbucks in place of the shop could work well, although the products sold on long-distance trains are similar to those offered by the coffee chains. Starbucks coffee is already sold on CrossCountry services.
 
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stig beve

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HI telstarbox

Thank you for filling out the survey i am getting some great feedback.

WIth regards to the family class/business class segregation it would based on advanced booking information.
The plan would be to ask a few more questions about the passenger when they are at the ticket booking stage, this information could then be used to 'tailor' the train to best meet the needs of the users on that specific journey. obviously its impossible to please everyone all the time but I feel adapting the train to best suite the needs of its passengers would make it a more attractive offer.

Thank you for raising the point about loss of revenue from the loss of first class this is something I wasn't aware of as I am still learning about the current operation and use of the train service myself.

With regards to the on-board facilities section the post office and bank suggestions were just that, initial proposals to see which would float and be an attractive idea for passengers.
 

Nym

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Stig beve, have you considered the high proportion of passengers that do not book within your consideration of different zone of segregation?

Not to mention that the use of such a term as 'teen class' is rather derogatory toward teenagers and I'm sure that if my partner was booked into this 'accidentally' by answering a question regarding his age, as he uses a 16-25 railcard (And is 17); that he would be placed into a highly inappropriate, loud environment, returning to other segregations...

When I travel with my mother and partner, would I be in the family coach? I know for certain I wouldn't want to be surrounded by families on a service all the way from Euston to Manchester, nor would I want to be in the teen coach, again, due to the fact I'm not a teenager, and never have been a typical one that enjoys making noise for no reason. So this leaves me with the 'business coach' that would likely have a premium attached to the pricing.

Family friendly coaches already exist and have been trialled on VT services between BHM and EUS, a small amount of google for the VT press office will find this; I have subsequently not heard anything about it since then so I can assume it has not been a booming success.

So no, not only do I think it would be a bad idea to escape from the current class system on LDHS rail services because of the evident stereotype re-enforcement it would use, and lack of accommodation for anyone who isn't a teen, family or businessman.
But also it would not work as it would be a removal from the realm of familiarity with the current branding systems available on services, I suspect you'll be on a course that requires you to understand marketing and brand management, so you'll realise just how difficult it is to create a new set of brand values within an existing service where the current vales are not expired, just look at the recent replacement of Tesco Value with Tesco Everyday Value for a perfect example of just how much marketing information (and time) is required to achieve this, and the soft launch used by Tesco in this case would not be possible with services on an LDHS provider of rail services, due to stock rotations and any other number of issues with rolling stock.

So anyway, the segregated class system is a bad idea if ever I've seen one, the UK is not the right place to launch one, and I suspect that the photo's you're using are without authorisation as well, since they are taken on Network Rail property ;)

Out of interest, what MBA / MSc / MA etc. are you studding for this?
 

stig beve

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Not to mention that the use of such a term as 'teen class' is rather derogatory toward teenagers and I'm sure that if my partner was booked into this 'accidentally' by answering a question regarding his age, as he uses a 16-25 railcard (And is 17); that he would be placed into a highly inappropriate, loud environment, returning to other segregations...

When I travel with my mother and partner, would I be in the family coach? I know for certain I wouldn't want to be surrounded by families on a service all the way from Euston to Manchester, nor would I want to be in the teen coach, again, due to the fact I'm not a teenager, and never have been a typical one that enjoys making noise for no reason. So this leaves me with the 'business coach' that would likely have a premium attached to the pricing.

Family friendly coaches already exist and have been trialled on VT services between BHM and EUS, a small amount of google for the VT press office will find this; I have subsequently not heard anything about it since then so I can assume it has not been a booming success.

Hi Nym

Thank you for the comment, you have brought some great issues to my attention. As mentioned above all of these scenarios are purely hypothetical and very much in there infancy at the moment. There will need to be tweaks to the segregation names and whether or not more or less categories are added.

I too hate the idea that once you enter your age and who you are travelling with that you will automatically be penned into a carriage that may not be completely suitable but would be nice to provide the option for it (if viable).

As you and various others are pointing out the category scenario may not be as viable as I hoped but best to find this out at the research phase rather than be shot down in flames upon my submission of the project.

The course I am currently undertaking is an MA in Product Design & Innovation.
 

telstarbox

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Bear in mind that the main competitors to long-distance rail services are flights (mainly between the south and Scotland in the UK) and car travel. If you can offer an advantage over these modes you may be able to persuade more passengers to take the train.


You might also be interested to read this thread about possible facilities on trains.
 
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stig beve

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Bear in mind that the main competitors to long-distance rail services are flights (mainly between the south and Scotland in the UK) and car travel. If you can offer an advantage over these modes you may be able to persuade more passengers to take the train.


You might also be interested to read this thread about possible facilities on trains.

This is the aim of the project... giving the train back the appeal it used to have.

Great thread. will definitely take my time to read through that, the subway franchise is an idea that has popped through my head in the past. seems like a great idea.
 

SS4

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I was surprised to find out that the question about how to divide up the coaches had no option to maintain the status quo.

What if I got lucky and managed to get a stunning 19 year old Swedish blonde as a girlfriend (keep an eye out for flying pigs); would she have to be in the teen carriage whereas I, by virtue of not being a teenager, would be forbidden from sitting there?

ATMs and banking facilities are superfluous on a train; ATMs are common at stations and there's a massive security risk wherever cash is handled.
 

Nym

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What if I got lucky and managed to get a stunning 19 year old Swedish blonde as a girlfriend (keep an eye out for flying pigs); would she have to be in the teen carriage whereas I, by virtue of not being a teenager, would be forbidden from sitting there.

Exactly the same problem I'd have, my 17 year old boyfriend would need to sit in the teen coach, and I wouldn't be allowed into it; not that he'd want to sit in there anyway...
 

stig beve

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wow, I'm glad this topic is raising such an interest :D

As said earlier this is a dilemma I hadn't thought of myself, you get so involved in your own concepts that you view them with rose tinted spectacles so to speak and somewhat ignore the problems they may face.
 

WestCoast

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I don't like the idea of class segregation based upon age at all, it sounds like a recipe for trouble if you ask me! It's heading towards passenger profiling, which might sound fine to begin with, but you end up with scenarios as mentioned by nym and SS4.

An (optional) family carriage and a quiet carriage on long distance trains would be fine, although you have to consider the lack of seats on some long distance services that already exists. People end up sitting in the quiet carriage on some CrossCountry Voyager services because, well, that might be the only place where they can get a seat!
 

stig beve

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An (optional) family carriage and a quiet carriage on long distance trains would be fine, although you have to consider the lack of seats on some long distance services that already exists. People end up sitting in the quiet carriage on some CrossCountry Voyager services because, well, that might be the only place where they can get a seat!

I think this is the way that option is likely to go to be honest, swap out some standard carriages for more focused carriages as an option.
I should clear this up, the idea was never to force people to sit in a 'teen' carriage based upon age, but merely to provide the service as an option....

The results of the survey are very much swaying towards the development of on board facilities for the meantime anyway, with the segregation scenario not far behind.
 

Nym

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As you and various others are pointing out the category scenario may not be as viable as I hoped but best to find this out at the research phase rather than be shot down in flames upon my submission of the project.

The course I am currently undertaking is an MA in Product Design & Innovation.

Having dealt with the appropriate departments on innovation and design in the Manchester Enterprise Centre (University of Manchester Business School, Not Manchester Met!), no idea would be fully shot down in flames (Other than, it's a stupid idea, we should scrap it and do this instead.), the grade doesn't align that much with the feasibility of the ideas.

Most of the ideas I've seen floating around the MEC from people who are new to subject areas, and usually in areas already explored, have still resulted in high grading levels and respect from the MEC, even though those in the appropriate field are very unimpressed.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The results of the survey are very much swaying towards the development of on board facilities for the meantime anyway, with the segregation scenario not far behind.

It would be because of a severe lack of options within the survey, I wouldn't think much to the ethics statement and the ability to actually answer in a way that one wants to, there just isn't the option there, so the survey it's self is suggestive, and if this was submitted for anything with a high level of research methods that came near my desk (and something similar did for one of my fallibility study teams) it would be given back to them with some advice to seek further study in research methods.
This is very kind compared to what someone I know someone who lectures MA/MSc students in research methods would do...
 
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stig beve

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I appreciate what your saying Nym, the survey was only ever going to be a preliminary look into which way the project should go.
It is purely to give my investigation a route to follow, instead of trying to research all avenues and ending up with a very shallow field of research in all areas.
Subsequently I still feel the survey despite its flaws (was knocked up quickly) should still give me a good indication of what is viable and attractive option to follow, as it is already, be it by sparking this topic of discussion even if it isn't from the tangible figures of the survey itself.
 

Nym

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I appreciate what your saying Nym, the survey was only ever going to be a preliminary look into which way the project should go.
It is purely to give my investigation a route to follow, instead of trying to research all avenues and ending up with a very shallow field of research in all areas.
Subsequently I still feel the survey despite its flaws (was knocked up quickly) should still give me a good indication of what is viable and attractive option to follow, as it is already, be it by sparking this topic of discussion even if it isn't from the tangible figures of the survey itself.

Even saying this, the omission of a "None" button will lead to highly false results as respondents have to put something and introduces the coin toss problem and a massive potential shift within the results, as coin toss theory rarely holds, resulting in a large skew of data and wasting a lot of your time later.

Ie. A respondent wants to put, "None of the Above" or "Change Nothing" but without being provided that button, will randomly stab any buttons to complete the survey to carry out their moral obligation to do so and/or gain a sense of satisfaction for helping you by completing the questionnaire; this will happen a lot more than you think, resulting in a massive bias and utterly useless results, that WILL be shot down by anyone reading the report that has any sense at all between their ears.

(Why does a BEng Graduate (MIET, AMIMechE) who doesn't do much in the world of research need to tell an MA student in something that leans on research a lot this???)
 

Simon11

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“The course I am currently undertaking is an MA in Product Design & Innovation.“

Why not look at something like improving the layout of a train? How could space be better used?
How could you use technology to assist passengers on a train? Think reservations screens, passenger screens, annoucments.
How could the seats be improved- comfort, getting plenty of seats in a train but conforming to safety rules.
 

stig beve

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I refuse to believe the results will be utterly useless, although yes some may randomly stab at buttons in order to end the survey, I feel most will still apply some logic to it and choose an option which even if they don't agree with entirely will still find a more attractive offer than the other two scenarios.

I feel we are getting somewhat off topic though.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
“The course I am currently undertaking is an MA in Product Design & Innovation.“

Why not look at something like improving the layout of a train? How could space be better used?
How could you use technology to assist passengers on a train? Think reservations screens, passenger screens, annoucments.
How could the seats be improved- comfort, getting plenty of seats in a train but conforming to safety rules.

This is something I do intend to look at, the project is still in its infancy and at this stage just trying to find a route to follow. The suggestion you have just made is something that does interest me though. Thanks for the input.:D
 

telstarbox

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But if you're trying to find what people would like to see on trains, and a respondent would prefer the status quo to any of the proposals, then your results will be biased away from those respondents. Unless you can cover every possibility of what people would want then you have to have a "none of the above" button to capture all preferences.
 

Nym

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Well, it's a thread about this survey for your research and we're commenting on the validity of the results of these, they neither myself or a lecturer of research methods believes will be valid.
I'm also questioning why these considerations were not previously made before finalising the survey, with several other questions now coming to the forefront...

1) Why was it not considered for research methods?
2) The validity of the results.
3) MA Students not knowing basic research methodology

And finally:

4) The now outright refusal to believe corrections and considerations, even with agreeal with reasons questioning validity of results, not appearing to admit flaws in validity of results.

And really finally:

5) No apparent knowledge of observation bias or lack of logic used by respondents.

Again, why do I know more on research methods (having done an Eng degree) than someone doing a Research Masters?
 

stig beve

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I don't refuse to agree with your point Nym, hence why I have altered and reset the survey in relation to that specific question. I do understand how it would make the survey biased.
I am not undertaking a research masters as such, it is very much project based, developing ideas and more so arts based. Yes research is a big part of it, but at this stage the concentration is on writing a Brief and a direction for the project to follow, results from this survey will be used as an indicator not as a final conclusion...
 

Nym

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OK, let me use an example;

If you have a survey asking "What stock would you like used on Aberdeen to London runs" and the available answers were:

Class 180 Units
Class 220 Units
Class 221 Units
Class 222 Units
A New variant on the Class 22x units
Class 390 Units hauled by Class 57s

Would this be biased?

Clearly yes, options are missing, nothing for what currently runs it and a large leaning onto Bombardier stock, this is similar to the issue with the original layout of yours.

If one then based a feasibility study on the response to these flawed question, alternative, potentially preferred avenues would not even be further investigated because of problems in the initial research, if the brief (that I doubt you're writing, it will likely be a proposal) is based on incorrect information, how can you expect the conclusion to hold any validity?

Look at the likes of Alchemy...

And if you don't understand how this survey is biased, I'd suggest a trip to the library to read some books on research and business research methods...
Finally, for this post; a quick look around KeyNote or Mintel for one or two of their transport reports, as the information you seem to be trying to find is already available in some of these reports...

PS: You're researching potential improvements and developing this into an idea, sounds a lot like research to me...

Don't bother arguing with Nym, he'll be here all week...

Thanks, appreciate that...
 
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Simon11

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I'd suggest you also do abit of research into the railways, including making a few trips on different types of journeys.
 

W-on-Sea

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The "class" system proposed here reminds me rather of something done on certain long-distance trains in France (idTGV) - where you can choose between "zen" (quiet) and "zap" classes.


One explanation given here
http://voyages.excite.fr/zen-ou-zap-mode-demploi-de-lidtgv-N3755.html

Ainsi un espace Zen a été créé, en opposition à l'espace Zap, pour ceux qui veulent se passer de téléphone mobile pendant leur voyage et profiter d'une course tranquille. L'espace Zap est dédié à ceux qui veulent par exemple jouer.


(my translation)
"A Zen space was created, to be the opposite of the Zap space, for those who wanted to get away from mobile phones during their journey and make the most of a quiet journey. The Zap space was made for those who wanted to, for example, play games

And a promo video here
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x46gru_idtgv-zen-zap-story-episode-1-amour_fun

(Loads of other videos highlighting the different ambiances of the two classes available on Youtube. Just search for idTGV, zap, zen)

The tickets for these trains are mostly cheap, and print-at-home (I think above all aimed at students)


So...something like this has certainly been done before - and I think has now been in place for 8 years.

Could something similar work in Britain? Even bearing in mind the far greater density of population here (and the consequent additional number of relativelymajor stations on main lines) For certain long-distance journeys, perhaps.
 

LE Greys

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One simple idea would be to reintroduce compartments in first. Although it would reduce the number of seats, I reckon it would attract more people than simply a low-density open coach. I for one would be far more likely to pay a first class fare if it guaranteed me a bit of privacy and plenty of luggage space.
 
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Hi Steve,

I have completed the survey but I think all three of your ideas for redeveloping on-board facilities are flawed. From the way you've presented the questions I assume they only relate to long-distance services such as Virgin Trains.

Separate teen/family/business carriages - a separate family or business coach is a good idea and already exists on some services (SBB's family coach, Chiltern's Business Zone). The problem is that many inter-city services are very busy, particularly in the PM peak and on weekends. If you had a separate "teen" or "family" coach and the rest of the train was full and standing would you turn them back into normal coaches?

Some long-distance trains only have 4, 5 or 8 coaches. Dedicating so much space to specific passenger groups will increase overcrowding in the rest of the train.

If you get rid of First Class you will lose a significant proportion of the business travel market who value the quiet environment in FC to work. These passengers (or more usually their employers) also buy the most expensive Anytime tickets, so this would significantly harm revenue.

Onboard facilities - do you really think people would use a Post Office or bank branch on a train? Post Offices are closing as more of the services they provide can be done in alternative ways, such as renewing car tax online or having benefits paid direct into bank accounts. A bank branch could only be used by its own customers - at least half the customers on the train wouldn't be able to use the facilities even if it was one of the largest banks - and it would waste space which could be taken up by seats. Again, the trend is towards online banking, avoiding the need to visit a branch.

A Costa Coffee or Starbucks in place of the shop could work well, although the products sold on long-distance trains are similar to those offered by the coffee chains. Starbucks coffee is already sold on CrossCountry services.

Starbucks coffee is also sold on EMT (East Midlands Trains) as well.
 
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Nym

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One simple idea would be to reintroduce compartments in first. Although it would reduce the number of seats, I reckon it would attract more people than simply a low-density open coach. I for one would be far more likely to pay a first class fare if it guaranteed me a bit of privacy and plenty of luggage space.

Yes indeedy, there are also a number of other enhancements one could add to this, but this would be something I'd want to be looking at on Captive HS Stock built to UIC-GC Gauge so there's space for other shiney things to attract pax.

Since it's a step change in Rolling Stock it enables changes to passenger environment to actually work...
 
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