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Will the transport industry cope with the increases in passenger numbers?


Without a doubt, travel is integral to our daily lives.

As a nation, we made over 7 billion journeys on public transport and drove 311 billion miles in 2014. 

We spend, on average, a year of our lives getting to and from the office – that’s 10,634 hours!

This sets a huge challenge for transport network providers: to cater for growing number of customers and satisfy their changing expectations.

Travel can be a stressful and emotional experience, with a number of variables that will inevitably affect your journey.

Will I make it to the airport on time? Will I have to queue for the toilet at the services? Will the toilets be clean?  Will I get a seat on the way to work this morning?  Will the train be on time? You’re bound to have a few examples of your own. 

These are just some of the issues we face on our annual average of 921 trips.

Can our motivation for travel affect our outlook?

If you regularly travel for business, you’ll know that your priorities are different from when you take a trip for pleasure.

Whether your journeys are in the course of work or during a commute, as a frequent business traveller you have two aims – to be on time and to reach your destination in comfort.

Shaving a few minutes from our journeys gives us more time to be productive in the office, so speed and efficiency is extremely important to us. We expect a comfortable waiting area (especially if there are delays) and a seat on the train or bus wouldn’t go amiss either!

Did you know that rail passenger demand is at its highest level since the 1920s? The latest statistics from the Government’s Rail Executive show the adverse effect this is having on our journeys. 

On a typical autumn weekday last year peak journeys into 11 major cities in England and Wales were an average of 1.3% over capacity. London experienced the worst overcrowding averaging at 4.1% excess, followed by Manchester with 3.3%.2

If the trains themselves are overcrowded then the impact must be even greater on rail stations, underground terminals and station-based retailers with passengers converging at these ‘hubs’ between journeys. It’s safe to assume that this trend is mirrored in motorway services, bus stations, airports and ports as business travel increases in general.

Commuter travel into the major cities makes up a substantial component of the total. The National Travel Survey suggests that on weekdays around half of rail trips in England are for commuting purposes, and a further 10% are for business travel.

So rail stations, bus stations, underground terminals and even airports must be adaptable – not only in capacity but also in their ability to adopt new technologies, automated systems and the like.

 How much do our expectations change when we’re travelling for pleasure?

Less frequent travellers, older generations and families welcome reassurance, personal contact and a more relaxed experience. As a holiday maker, for example, your mindset is often that your holiday starts when you put your luggage in your car/taxi and set off for the airport, train or ferry.

It follows then, that the standards of the environment in which we wait and the customer service we experience should be aimed at maintaining that buoyancy.

With numbers set to increase year-on-year, across all modes of transport, how can the UK’s stations, airports and service areas keep ahead of the game?

According to Peter Spurway of Halifax Airport Authority (Canada) "The airport industry is a never-ending work in progress as it has to understand and meet the ever-evolving needs of passengers."3

This statement could be applied to any aspect of transport.

Ultimately, whatever the motivation for travel, expectations for services and facilities along the way are high and rising, demanding a flexible approach from service providers. In particular in regard to the physical environment; being able to add, move, extend or reduce ticket offices, check-in areas, toilets and retail space, without affecting operations, is crucial.

Take a look at our case studies to see how we’ve helped other organisations like yours, prepare for pressures on their services because of surges in demand.


  1. http://www.reducedmobility.eu/20130412302/The-News/meeting-passenger-expectations-key-factor-in-airports-growth-plans.html


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