Using film on trains to improve passenger experience | Fleetshield
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Using film on trains to improve passenger experience

NS research proves that it works

Wrapping trains or upgrading the interior of carriages with film is something that NS (Dutch Railways) regularly chooses to do. Not only to protect the bodywork, but also to use rolling stock as a communication tool. Now NS research has shown that the use of film on and in trains has another advantage: it improves passenger experience.

Researching the unconscious

Mark van Hagen researches the customer experience at stations and on trains for NS. “For the past twenty years, I have focused on researching the customer experience on the unconscious level. This gives us an insight into what customers really care about. After all, people are unconscious about a lot of things.”

Pyramid of customer preferences

For the NS travel experience surveys, Mark developed a pyramid of customer preferences. “At the bottom of the pyramid are functional preferences, such as speed, reliability and ease of travel. These are the basic conditions you simply have to provide as a transportation operator. At the top of the pyramid are preferences such as comfort and experience. These make people happy. These are the elements where you can make a difference. For instance, if you put a piano in a railway station, people will find it more pleasant to travel. The same happens when a train looks good.”

Train experience monitor

Mark was introduced to Fleetshield over a decade ago. “At the time, NS was working on developing a train experience monitor. We did all sorts of experiments. For example, we had the interior of the trains covered with Fleetshield film. This gave the carriages all sorts of different looks. For example, a library, a forest and a fairground. What was noticeable was that people in the library train automatically talked less, and when they did, it was for a shorter time”. This was exactly what NS had in mind.

Influencing autopilot

The way that passengers respond to film-clad trains, is something that Mark explains as follows: “We are not aware of 99% of the stimuli around us, but all the stimuli that come in, are processed by our brains. In fact, at an unconscious level, our brains are capable of processing 200,000 times more stimuli than our conscious brains. As a result, we do a lot of things on autopilot. You can see this in the library train. People have been taught to be quiet in a library, so they do it automatically.”

Tricking brains

Influencing people’s behaviour by designing the environment is happening in more and more sectors. “They do it in hospitals,” Mark notes. “For example, research has shown that patients recover faster when there are plants in the room. And they don’t even have to be real plants, a picture of a plant works just as well. After all, our brains don’t distinguish between real greenery and a photo when it comes to how we perceive a room.”

“A distinctive train has real impact”

The impact of wrapping trains

Wrapping trains can also have an impact on passenger experience, according to Mark. “We had a green train when NS switched to green electricity,” he recalls. Fleetshield wrapped it in a film with blue and yellow pixels: the house style colours of NS. “From a distance, the train only looked green,” Mark adds with a smile. “If you measure how travellers experience such a train, you see that it scores a point higher in terms of attractiveness. Travellers experience it as more atmospheric, more comfortable and even cleaner. So, a distinctive train really has an impact.”

Quickly transforming a train

Wrapping trains in film also has a practical use. Mark: “If we had wanted to use paint to get the blue and yellow pixels on the train, it would have been a huge job. You can do that with film. You can give trains a completely different look in an instant and turn them into a communication tool.” The look can also be easily changed over time. Film is easy to remove without damaging the surface.

The expertise of Fleetshield

Mark is pleased with Fleetshield as a collaborative partner. “It is an extremely professional party with a wealth of knowledge about all kinds of films, adhesives and product combinations, but also about, for instance, fire safety. They even have film solutions for very specific situations. During the COVID period, they drew our attention to an antibacterial film that kills viruses. Ideal for wrapping handles, tables and poles.”

Able to adapt quickly

“Fleetshield is professional, adapts to situations quickly and is constructive in contributing ideas,” Mark goes on to say. “Moreover, they are down-to-earth, unpretentious and patient. That’s also important in the complex transportation sector. When COVID broke out on a large scale in the Netherlands, they quickly provided us with arrows indicating routes and social distancing signs in all stations and trains. And when we wanted to test a concept in a waiting room, it was done in two days. They fine-tuned the implementation with the station manager so that it didn’t inconvenience rush hour passengers. That’s nice too. As you can see, I’m a Fleetshield fan.”

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