On the use of "average delay" as a measure of train reliability

Publisher's full text
Jonas Eliasson

We investigate how passengers on long-distance trains value unexpected delays relative to scheduled travel time and travel cost. For scheduled services with high reliability and long headways, the value of delays is most commonly assumed to be proportional to the average delay. By exploring how the valuation of train delays depends on delay risk and delay length, using three different stated choice data sets, we find that the "average delay" approach does not hold: the disutility increases slower than linearly in the delay risk. This means that using the average delay as a performance indicator, a guide for operations planning or for investment appraisal will underestimate the value of small risks of long delays relative to large risks for short delays. It also means that estimated valuations of "average delay" will depend on the delay risk level: valuations will be higher the lower the risk levels in the study are.

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