This session presents this year's most relevant research papers in intercity passenger rail transportation.
Synthesis of North American High-Speed Passenger Rail Ridership Forecasting
Benjamin Sperry, Ohio UniversityShow Abstract
This paper presents a synthesis of two decades of ridership forecasts developed for proposed HSR routes in various stages of development across North America. A comprehensive database of ridership forecasts consisted of 210 ridership estimates from 43 unique intercity corridors. Analysis of the database revealed that increasing the maximum operating speed of the HSR service resulted in increasing ridership and a simple multiple linear regression model yielded demand elasticities that were consistent with values reported in published ridership studies. With respect to the impacts of HSR on the broader transportation system, this synthesis found that the mode share of HSR as well as the percentage of airline trips diverted to HSR services increased as the maximum speed of the system increased. The percentage of induced trips and the percentage of automobile trips diverted to HSR did not vary significantly with speed. While this synthesis provides a starting point for a broader discussion about the importance of ridership forecasting in the development of the U.S. high-speed intercity passenger rail network, each intercity corridor being considered for HSR service is unique and market-specific ridership studies should be undertaken to identify the various ridership and other metrics necessary for service development. Improvements to the forecasting process, including greater transparency in the forecasting metrics reported as well as post facto evaluation of the ridership forecast against actual passenger traffic, would benefit the entire HSR service development process.
Exploring Service Correlates of Passengers’ Satisfaction with High-Speed Rail and Improvement Priorities
Feng Zhen, Nanjing UniversityShow Abstract
Xinyu Cao, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
JIa Tang, Nanjing University
Assessing customer satisfaction is essential to enhance loyalty and ridership of high speed rail (HSR). Although many studies have explored passengers’ satisfaction with transit, the effort on HSR is limited. Only a few studies examine the impacts of service attributes on passengers’ satisfaction from a planning perspective. Using the Shanghai-Nanjing HSR route, this study employs an ordered logit model and importance-performance analysis to identify key influential attributes and service improvement priorities in China. We found that convenience of ticket purchases, neat carriage, the behavior of HSR attendants, riding comfort, and connection attributes are important for enhancing HSR satisfaction, but none of the service attributes fall into the category of prioritized improvement. We concluded that passengers are generally satisfied with HSR services, especially the attributes critical to overall HSR satisfaction.
Integrated Pricing and Planning Strategy to Optimize Passenger Rail Service
Xiaoqiang Zhang, Southwest Jiaotong UniversityShow Abstract
Jingfan Li, Southwest Jiaotong University
Scott Le Vine, Transpo Group; SUNY New Paltz
Xiaobo Liu, Southwest Jiaotong University
Optimizing passenger rail dispatching has been the focus of much attention in recent years. A limitation of the state-of-the-art in this area of research is that supply-side and demand-side issues are generally considered separately. The contribution of this paper is to propose a revenue-maximization model that integrates these two dimensions, based on dynamic ticket-pricing, elasticity in passenger demand, and flexible dispatching. The model considers both operating costs directly borne by the rail service operator and costs indirectly incurred by passengers due to the disutility of unproductive travel time (i.e. the value of time).
The strategy to identify the profit-maximizing joint pricing/dispatching strategy is based on Lyapunov optimization. The drift-plus-penalty with perturbation technique is employed to solve the linear programing optimization problem.
The Guangzhou-Shenzhen railway (Guangdong, China) is employed as the empirical case study, to expose the properties of the proposed model. Patterns of responsiveness of net revenue to various parameters of the model system are presented and discussed.
Case Study of Benefit-Cost Analysis of an Intercity Passenger Rail Service
Toni Horst, AECOMShow Abstract
Francis Loetterle, Minnesota Department of Transportation
Melanie Johnson, Quandel Consultants, LLC
Charles Quandel, Quandel Consultants, Inc
Carey Barr, AECOM
The economic assessment of transportation projects is evolving from a reliance on user benefits (travel time, cost or safety) to encompass a wider spectrum of potential benefits, fostered by advances in economics and recognition that different project modes deliver different portfolios of benefits. This is important because sponsors develop projects to address specific problems in their communities. This progression in how investments are evaluated “opens the door” for projects whose outcomes span a variety of benefit categories rather than concentrating in traditional user benefits and also permits an improved intermodal comparison of candidate investments. Transit and intercity rail projects are particular beneficiaries of the broader approach to project assessment. This paper presents a case study of how a comprehensive approach to project assessment was applied to the Northern Lights Express (NLX) project that would re-introduce passenger rail service between the cities of Minneapolis and Duluth, MN—the state’s largest economies. The purpose of the analysis was threefold: 1) confirm that the investment would yield a positive return; 2) communicate with partners, stakeholders and the public about the project’s expected outcomes, and 3) contribute to the selection of an alternative. The benefit cost ratio was estimated for 10 alternatives that varied by physical alignment and service plan.