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Give us more onboard services, not faster trains

April 18, 2011
Author: Eve-Marie Morgo
A study commissioned by the SNCF has given an interesting insight into what travellers want out of rail today.

To mark the TGV's 30th birthday, 1,000 16 year olds and over were questioned by Ipsos in March about what they wanted most when they travelled by France's iconic high speed train. Seven out of ten of those who took part in the study said they would like more destinations added to the TGV network where as only four out of ten want to get to those places faster. This is especially interesting when you consider High Speed Rail is such a hot topic at the moment.  

The SNCF’s research also revealed that travellers are looking to airlines for inspiration when it comes to the TGV experience. Accustomed to all the creature comforts on long haul flights, half of respondents said they’d like individual TV screens on all seats.   

They would also like relaxation areas, play areas for children, restaurants and even a carriage fitted out with a cinema.

Considered by the majority of those quizzed as a way of bringing families together, the TGV has transformed the way in which people view the distance and journey times that sometimes separate loved ones and friends.

For those questioned, it is clear that the TGV has made a big impact in their lives. What they are looking for now is the total rail experience.

Content with spending sometimes over five hours on a train, they would like onboard services reflect the fact they are looking to relax and be productive while travelling. If they are to choose rail over air, they want it to give them the best possible experience possible.

Those questioned see rail travel as the sociable way to travel. Indeed, close to eight out of ten people said they had begun a conversation with their neighbour on the train, two out of ten had ‘found’ long lost friends and one out of ten even stayed in touch with their fellow passengers.

In the age of cheap air travel and the abundance of low cost carriers, perhaps rail is being seen as the ‘human way to travel’. Could it be that people have had enough of long queues at the airport, endless security lines and being flown round Europe in cramped economy seats? Judging by the responses, it is clear that rail travellers are now favouring the ‘go slow and relax’ approach rather than viewing long haul travel as a race, with passengers rushed across France. And indeed, surely getting to and from your destination should be as enjoyable as the destination itself.


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