Horizon CDT Research Highlights

Research Highlights

Quantitatively Measuring Customer Experience (CX) in the Rail Industry

  Sam Smith (2021 cohort)


Although demand for rail travel has more than doubled over the last 20 years (Munro, 2021), rail travel in the UK is currently facing the challenge of recovering from COVID-19 (Harrington, 2022). One part of the work being done in the rail industry is focusing on encouraging people to travel by rail again. Consequently, there is a need for the rail industry to become more passenger-centric (Camacho, 2016) and to more intricately understand passenger experience (PX). Current methods of collecting CX data are conducted annually, therefore cannot offer up-to-date analysis (Focus, 2020). This PhD aims to create a tool for capturing and assessing customer feedback in the rail industry to help understand passenger experience (PX) in greater depth. The tool should also be designed to provide recommendations to industry for improving PX.

This PhD aims to create a new methodology for identifying and assessing factors of PX. The findings of this work will not be specific to any scenario but will be adaptable to other scenarios in which customer experience (CX) is to be assessed in a more customer-centric way. This methodology will be different to other, more quantitative data-driven, methods because it will turn subjective, qualitative data, into quantitative solutions. This research will initially employ qualitative methods to identify factors affecting PX, then attempt to analyse this data using quantitative methods. Furthermore, machine learning algorithms could be employed to categorise data so that the tool could run automatically as more data is received.

Research Questions


Camacho, 2016. The role of passenger-centric innovation in the future of public transport. Public Transport, 8(3), pp. 453-475.

Focus, T., 2020. National Rail Passenger Survey, Transport Focus.

Harrington, H., 2022. Changes in commuting behaviours in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. Journal of Transport & Health, Volume 24, p. 101313.

Munro, A., 2021. HS2 railway, UK – why the country needs it. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Transport, 174(1), pp. 3-11.