Predicting the future is notoriously tricky. Learning from the past is probably the soundest starting point, but talking at a conference about the passenger experience of a new high-speed line – which might not arrive before 2026 – was a challenge. Do ‘high-speed’ passengers have needs different to other passengers? From our rail National Passenger Survey we know needs across all groups of passengers are remarkably similar. For example we can analyse the passenger experience of the ‘high-speed’ services run by Southeastern on the first high-speed line. Very high levels of satisfaction as you might expect – 93% overall satisfaction, but punctuality remains the key driver of satisfaction.
Issues more specific to high-speed two services might centre more on access: both physical and through pricing. Car parking and other access to what might be very long trains will be a key issue. Pricing is bound to be an issue – high-frequency trains should, we think, be matched by a flexible ticketing structure. Space on the trains – future passengers will want to work, relax and make use of the time onboard. High speed maybe, but any new services will still need to be effective people movers with services based around key principles of simplicity and flexibility – we don’t know what the future holds so let’s keep our options open!