To qualitatively evaluate the four solutions as discussed, four aspects are considered, namely passengers, railway operator, cost and passenger comfort level.
Solution 1: Modification of Passenger Unit
Passengers who sit near the luggage unit may be disturbed by other passengers moving luggage in and out of the unit. This situation is assuming that the unit is passenger-accessible. If the unit does not allow passengers access to luggage storage, a check-in procedure for passengers should be introduced. Therefore, passengers may need to spend time checking in luggage. The check-in service might not be suitable for passengers who travel short journeys. If the luggage storage unit is placed at the middle of the rolling stock, passengers may not be able to move through carriages and access the restaurant bar. Passengers may have concerns about luggage security if the unit is passenger-accessible.
If railway companies modify the passenger unit for luggage storage, the revenue of railway operators may decrease. To modify the passenger unit, passenger seats may need to be removed and luggage storage facilities installed for the luggage rack or cycle storage. Also, as the number of passengers decreases, the railway company would lose revenue through the modification of the passenger unit.
Passengers may be more comfortable if the luggage is stored in carriage units. It would also mean that the corridor and the entrance are less likely to be blocked by
luggage. There would also be no need for passengers to keep luggage on seats.
Comfort Level of Passengers
Passengers may be more comfortable if the luggage is stored in carriage units. It would also mean that the corridor and the entrance are less likely to be blocked by luggage. There would also be no need for passengers to keep luggage on seats.
Solution 2: Double-Deck Design of Passenger Unit
The double-deck design could be more convenient for passengers, as the luggage could be stored in the same unit as where the passenger is sitting, unlike the solution of modifying the passenger unit. However, the upper-deck passengers may have luggage security concerns due to the lack of visual contact with their luggage. The queuing time for storing and collecting luggage may also be longer if luggage is stored on the lower deck.
The aim of the double deck is to increase the passenger capacity of rolling stock. However, the space is now used for luggage storage, not improving passenger capacity. Also, rail infrastructure would need to be modified if operators were using the double-deck design. The standard height of tunnels and other equipment would need to be redesigned due to the dimensions of the double-deck compared to a single-deck rolling stock.
The cost for both the railway operator and passenger is greater if modification of the passenger unit is chosen. This is because the railway company would need to reduce the number of seats to free extra space for luggage storage. The railway company would also need to invest capital into modifying other infrastructure for the double-deck rolling stock.
Comfort Level of Passengers
Passengers would also have to be comfortable with storing luggage in a lower-deck storage space. Therefore, upper-deck passengers would not have to lift and store the luggage on the top deck. This would mean no more luggage blocking the corridors and entrances (allowing passengers to access other units more easily).
Solution 3: Operating an Additional Train for Transporting Passengers’ Luggage
The luggage transport rolling stock could provide passengers a stress-free ride without worrying about luggage. However, passengers may need to arrive at the station earlier than usual for the check-in service. The check-in service may not be suitable for short-journey passengers, but could be an advantage for families travelling by train. Parents could take care of their children without having to move and watch their large luggage. Additionally, businesspersons or tourists might like to use the service because luggage can be stored at the station or delivered to a specific location (e.g. a hotel).
The railway company would need to implement a new rolling stock for luggage transport. The rolling stock would also need to be modified to contain luggage racks or cycle storage. The number of units per train should be the same as passenger units. The rolling stock is not only for transporting luggage but also to help other companies move items such as food and low-density goods. This way, new business arrangements could be created for the railway companies to earn more profit. The timetable would also need to be amended by launching an additional train between the normal service. The luggage should arrive at the station as soon as possible. As this service is for long-journey passengers, the train should be non-stop to the destination.
Two railway companies, SNCF in France and Gatwick Express in the United Kingdom, are now providing similar services. SNCF and Gatwick both require passengers to book the service a few days in advance. Also, SNCF can collect the luggage at specific locations such as from home, at work and from hotels. Therefore, passengers do not need to carry their luggage to the station, which is more convenient for them when making travel arrangements. Luggage delivery provided by Gatwick Express is similar to that for SNCF in France. However, Gatwick Express transports the luggage using vehicles rather than trains. Therefore, the delivery can potentially be delayed during rush hour.
The operating costs would increase by implementing an extra service for transporting luggage. However, the railway company could earn additional profit by helping other companies transport products. The operating cost may be offset by the additional revenue from helping other businesses. The operating costs would not increase significantly by adding an extra service for transporting luggage. The major cost of the service would be the check-in procedure and the luggage delivery. The railway would possibly need to employ more staff to handle luggage check-ins and employ workers to manage the luggage deliveries, which is a good thing. The service might be considered “free of charge to the passengers”, but passengers should be charged if they do not collect their luggage immediately (or after a certain time period of time). A charge price should also be introduced for locker storage services at the station in case such a service exists.
The energy cost as a percentage of total expense would increase to about 6.86%, which means the operating costs would not increase significantly by adding an extra service for transporting luggage. The major cost of the service would be the check-in procedure and the luggage delivery. The railway would need to employ more staff to handle luggage check-ins and employ workers to manage the luggage deliveries.
Therefore, the service might be free of charge to the passengers, but passengers should be charged if they do not collect their luggage immediately (or after a certain time period). A charge price should also be introduced for locker storage services at the station.
Comfort Level of Passengers
Passengers should feel more comfortable without having to carry their luggage when boarding and leaving the train. The luggage could also be sent by delivery to a specific location. However, passengers may need to allow extra time for check-in procedures, and would therefore need to arrive at the station early.
The problem with this solution, however, is that passengers would not check their baggage immediately before their journey and collect it immediately after their arrival, as is the case in air travel, but may have to wait for the arrival of the next train carrying the luggage. This is not attractive for most passengers. However, it is expected that this option would be preferred for passengers on holiday trips with a great deal of luggage and by families with children, as holiday travellers are less time-sensitive and may also be willing to return to the station to pick up their luggage after arriving at their holiday destination and finding their hotel. In many other cases, it may be better to offer door-to-door delivery, where luggage is collected at the home and delivered to the holiday destination. However, these services should also include the additional option of dropping off luggage at partner shops or automatic terminals, or even at the train station, if travellers do not have the time to wait several hours at home for baggage drop-off or delivery service.
Solution 4: Repositioning of Passenger Seats and Baggage Racks
Passengers still need to carry the luggage on board and store it in the areas provided by the railway company. But more space would be available in the gap between two opposite passenger seats. However, the space is not guaranteed to accommodate all passengers’ luggage. Passengers would again need to place their luggage at the entrance or even in corridors during the travel season. Alternatively, well-designed luggage racks could offer an efficient way of storing luggage as desired by travellers, and not block the corridors and entrances.
The railway company would need to spend time modifying the seats. As the gap between seats will be larger than before, the number of seats should decrease while the length of unit carriages remains unchanged. Railway companies typically try to maximise the number of seats in order to earn the largest profit. The introduction of greater seat spacing and the installation of well-designed luggage racks is particularly suitable for new vehicles when it comes to redesign, as the size of the luggage compartments can be easily adapted to meet the required frame conditions in terms of luggage size.
Repositioning the passenger seats would increase the operational costs.
Comfort Level of Passengers
Passengers may still experience the same issues as before, because the luggage storage space is still not sufficient. Luggage might need to be placed under passengers’ seats or by their feet.