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What do today’s passengers want from HS2? We make an effort to ensure the company knows

On Saturday 13 October Transport Focus held another brilliant workshop with our HS2 Customer Community in Birmingham. The Community is made up of a diverse range of 40 passengers from across the UK, who participate in regular online tasks based around customer experience elements. This research, which we first started running for HS2 in 2014, helps ensure that the passenger voice continues to be heard as HS2 develops the railway of the future. The workshop was a great way of updating the community on the latest project news, to explore several new issues which the company wants some passenger insight.

At the preceding meeting, six months ago, HS2 had shared an interactive onboard virtual reality experience which showed the community how good design might positively impact the journey for example using thoughtful landscape architecture to give passengers the best view from the train window during non-tunnel time, or how important the placement of sound barriers can be to ensure greatest efficiency.

This exercise had proved an innovative way to bring concepts to life so this time around a similar approach was taken to provide a mock up experience of accessing a train via a gateless platform and the issues these might present for passengers and operators alike.

The Customer Community has previously been asked about station design with HS2, considering the facilities that would really improve customers’ quality of life, both for travellers and those living or working in the local areas around them. They have also looked at the HS2 brand, exploring different values with which they think it should be associated and defining how to convey those values to passengers – unsurprisingly they said that great customer service will go a long way towards building trust in the brand over time!

As the independent transport user watchdog we regard this project as a fantastic opportunity for us to involve passengers in the design and development of such a key transport infrastructure project. We commend the energy HS2 has put into seeking end user involvement to guide important decisions and welcome the feedback the company gives us which confirms they find talking to real passengers truly helps to challenge their thinking and that they had learnt a lot from every workshop that we run. A Saturday well spent!

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