A major overhaul of rail passenger demand research is set to bring the UK rail industry back up to speed.
Steer Davies Gleave has been asked by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) to undertake a review of the Passenger Demand Forecasting Handbook (PDFH).
The review precedes the actual update of the handbook, which is subject to a separate contract.
The handbook will replace the existing version (4.1), which was released in June 2005.
The Passenger Demand Forecasting Council (PDFC), which includes representatives from Train Operating Companies, the Department for Transport, Network Rail, the Office of Rail Regulation, Transport for London, Transport Scotland, the Passenger Transport Executive Group and transport consultancies, believes that the time is right for a new version of the PDFH to be produced.
"There is some anecdotal evidence that the PDFH does not sufficiently reflect the needs of all current stakeholders, a matter which this piece of work should address," ATOC's Passenger Demand Forecasting Scheme manager Billy Denyer said.
The review will ensure the new handbook contains 'the most accurate and robust research available across the UK rail industry', he said.
SDG will identify inconsistencies in demand forecasting approaches and 'apparent paradoxes' in the existing values, so the new guidelines will be as consistent as possible.
SDG will also draw on major research projects recently undertaken by the PDFC to help with the review.
The project will be headed by SDG`s David Shilton - an industry expert on forecasting the impact of variables on the demand for rail services. He edited the second edition of the PDFH, in 1989.
"PDFH is used by a wide range of stakeholders with varying needs. It is vitally important that these needs are understood before the update of the PDFH commences," Shilton said.
The review is expected to be complete by April 2008.