The Challenge

The Passenger Demand Forecasting Handbook (PDFH) is the rail industry’s ‘bible’ for forecasting changes in rail demand. The framework takes into account external factors, such as population, economic and employment growth, and competition from other modes of transport, and factors within the industry’s control, such as the timetables, fares, rolling stock and station quality. Having a common, industry-wide understanding of how these factors affect demand is critical to the franchise bidding process and a wide range of other industry transactions and negotiations. The Handbook draws on a wide range of evidence from industry and academic research to provide a authoritative and comprehensive source of recommended techniques and values that are accepted by stakeholders across the industry.

SYSTRA's Role

SYSTRA and ITS Leeds worked together on the update process on behalf of the Rail Delivery Group. The process began with a stakeholder engagement exercise that aimed to understand the main issues different users had with the previous version, in terms of usability, presentation, relevance and credibility of parameter recommendations, and future research needs. In parallel, the update team prepared a written critique of the handbook. To ensure the new include as much new evidence, all stakeholders were asked to submit any relevant evidence they thought would enhance PDFH. These were reviewed by the update team, and the evidence from studied as robust were compared with those studies that were the basis of the previous version of the Handbook. The evidence reviews and the reasons for any parameter changes were presented to Industry Steering Group and a peer review for comments. Where the issues were particularly contentious, focussed technical notes and example calculations were presented to the reviewers. Draft final parameters were then presented to the Industry for feedback, before the Handbook was finalised and published on the PDFH website. Users were then given a month to 'test drive' the Handbook and note any clarification issues.