How do passengers use travel time? A case study of Shanghai–Nanjing high speed rail

Jia Tang, Feng Zhen, Jason Cao, Patricia L. Mokhtarian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Traditional travel behavior theory regards travel time as a waste. Recent studies suggest that it carries a positive utility, among other reasons for the benefit of the activities conducted while traveling. However, most studies of travel time use have focused on conventional trains in developed countries. Few have systematically examined the permeation of information and communication technology (ICT) into travel time use and the correlates of activity participation in developing countries, particularly on high speed rail (HSR). Using a survey conducted on the Shanghai–Nanjing corridor (N = 901), this study examines how HSR passengers use their travel time and explores the correlates of the different types of activities of business and non-business travelers, respectively, through multivariate probit models. We found that 96% of the respondents use ICT during their HSR journey and that most passengers spend some of their travel time on work-related activities. Moreover, items carried and advance planning as well as work-related travel attributes contribute significantly to activity participation. However, the factors affecting time use of business and non-business travelers differ. HSR service design should facilitate passenger engagement in various activities and improvement of their travel experience. A stable internet connection, adequate power sockets, and a noise-free environment will promote both work and leisure activities on the HSR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-477
Number of pages27
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements The study was funded by the Nature Science Foundation of China (#41571146; #41371149; #413001166).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.


  • HSR
  • ICT
  • Quality of service
  • Time use
  • Train
  • Travel satisfaction


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