Service quality is one of many parameters in order to measure the performance of services. Few years ago, quality may only refer to products that people normally purchase such as food and clothing. However, as we face the chapters of our millennium, service quality is also being measured. These are the services that people get from restaurants, shops, and even on public transportation such as the train service. It is evident in this literature that there are measurement models regarding the train service quality.
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In order to obtain the passengers’ perception regarding the quality of their public transport, evidence was used such as the timing, reliability, fare, and frequency (Irfan, Kee, & Shahbaz, 2012). In addition, the information system, cleanliness, and safety issues were also used to evaluate the service quality. These are some of the major measurements that are normally used in obtaining the train service quality. Based on the results of the research, these quality measurements obtained a dissatisfaction feedback from the majority of the respondents. There was just one parameter that gave customer satisfaction and that is the cleanliness. The results show that majority of the passengers were satisfied with the trains’ cleanliness both in the washrooms, coach, and platforms.
The measurements for service quality that were used in this research were adequate to obtain results needed for service improvements. The method in obtaining these results was done using a modified service quality instrument to create questionnaires that consist of eight concepts. These concepts can also be used in evaluating the Klang Valley Train service quality in addition to any existing measurement models available for research. The importance of these measurements can be useful to address the passengers’ feedback towards service improvements.
The service quality measurement is very essential for transport services, as they will serve as indicators on the aspects that might need to improve. It is sometimes called the transit performance indicators that refer to passengers’ perception regarding the service they are getting (Eboli & Mazzulla, n.d.). There are agencies that also provide point-of-view, which serves as reflection about the transportation’s performance based on the perspective transportation agency as a business. In this regard, it is evident in the literature that it is not only the passengers themselves from whom the service quality measurements come from, but there are agencies that also set various quality measurement models.
Based on the literature, service quality measurements are useful for various aims such as the overall evaluation of transport service’s performance as well as the transport system’s relation to the passengers’ objectives (Eboli & Mazzulla, n.d.). The research results found that some quality measurements are service reliability, comfort, cleanliness, safety and security, and fare. As we look at the previous literatures, these measurements were common among the studies that identify the transportation’s service quality.
Comfort could be one of the aspects that people are considering when using a public transportation especially during a long trip. When it comes to service quality improvement, one of the measurements that the researchers are writing about is the comfort of traveling. This service quality measurement adds the value to the public transportation. Thus, it could be one of many reasons why train service passengers are turning to be dissatisfied customers.
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The research done by Todd Littman (2014) suggests that comfort can be improved in many ways. Whether the train is running as an economy or luxury service, train service managers must still consider comfort. For the economy service, train seats inside the coaches must be comfortable enough to sit on. An ergonomic seat design can be used in order to provide an adequate comfort while traveling. Additionally, there must be enough number of seats in every coach, so that passenger congestion may be avoided as much as possible. When it comes to luxury coaches, Littman (2014) suggests that seats must have leather bucket and must have enough legroom especially for tall passengers. Also, a worktable can also be provided, so that a passenger could do some activities such as writing or use a laptop computer during the trip.
The research made in this literature used a cost-based analysis in which would provide some estimate value for every comfort improvement that will be made in every coach. The quantity of data that was used was based on the number of seats per coach as well as the total number of coaches. With this research it may not be imperative that the Klang Valley train service must convert their coaches into a luxury one. However, taking into consideration that the passengers will be satisfied with comfortable travel, any comfort improvement may be considered.
Besides the comfort, the reliability of the train service is also as important. This is another service quality measurement of the train service. Reliability is about how the service affects its punctuality, time, and availability. Due to passengers’ demands to reach their destination without any delay, train service reliability is a crucial point. The train departure must not be earlier than the schedule, as for the passengers’ perspective; the next departure might be late.
The research was conducted and designed by Alex Landex (n.d.). Based on his study, improvement on train service reliability can be improved using a computerized simulation. This design was used in order to analyze the reliability issues using idealized situation. The model suggests that in order to improve reliability, an overtaking can be used as one of the techniques in case of delays. Overtaking to another train may have a relief in disruptions (Landex, n.d.). In addition, a delayed train may change its stop pattern in which it will skip some stations, so as to cover the delay. In case any train delays occur, another train that is not late can replace the delayed one. Further using alternative route can also increase the train service reliability. This is applicable if there are parallel routes wherein the train may use the other route, but may need to skip some train stations. This is also applicable if there are any unprecedented incidents that happened.
The basis of this research was more on the technical side of the train operation. It is intended to solve some factors that affect the train service reliability such as the punctuality. It could be applicable to Klang Valley train service, which some aspects of the research can be adopted in order to improve their service quality in terms of reliability.
It is imperative that we always ensure the cleanliness in our every day living. Similarly, sanitation and cleanliness is also important in public transportation. In India, the sanitation of their train service is a multidisciplinary. There is a dedicated department that handles and ensures the cleanliness in every coach, while the other departments are responsible to maintain the sanitation in the premises of train stations. However, there are other train stations including their coaches that need some improvement when it comes to cleanliness.
In this literature, audit findings were used to identify the cleanliness and sanitation factors that need to be improved. The audit was taken up and the results suggest that the train service needs to implement bio-toilets inside every coach so as to prevent defecation and to maintain the hygienic surroundings. The management must also put an internal control system so that the linen management could improve the process including the rodent and pest control. Additionally, safe drinking water stations must be put in place in every train station, so as to ensure safety of passengers who would use the service.
The research in this literature was based on the audit findings made by the India Railways or IR. These factors were regarded as crucial when it comes to ensuring the sanitation, which if taken for granted, could cause negative health effects to train commuters. Train passengers are normally looking at the comfort and reliability of the public transportation. However, it must also take into consideration that cleanliness may also affect passengers as bacteria and viruses are not evident using the naked eyes. On the other hand, if the Klang Valley train service would be facing such cleanliness and sanitation issues, the management may conduct the same audit made by the India Railway in order to maintain its sanitation status in every train station.
Determining service quality and efficiency to improve customer experience of train commuters in Klang Valley requires consideration of the service quality models and examine its components for application. In a report by Kenzler (2006), service quality models were evaluated with an objective to improving the use of available train length. The report was based on the UIC (Union Internationale des Chemins de fer / International Union of Railways) case study. According to the report, the use of available train length can be improved by establishing an effective booking procedure (Kenzler 2006). The evidence presented by the report from analyzing UIC data revealed that sub-optimal use of train length and other facilities is often due to technical parameters, operational capacity, and management (Kenzler 2006).
Furthermore, the capacity study presented in the report also suggests that the efficient use of train capacity is likely to increase commuter satisfaction (Kenzler 2006). Improvements in infrastructure and price competitiveness appear to come second only to capacity improvement in terms of increasing customer satisfaction (Kenzler 2006). The report provides a simple model and argument for improving service quality. The findings in the report offer significant insights to the problems, which the train operators should address in order to ascertain optimum service quality. The usefulness of the data in the report enables this study to construct a framework for application of service model that is designed to address service quality of Klang Valley train services.
In a discussion paper by Beck, Bente, and Schilling (2013), the opportunities for improvement were identified as the efforts done by the train operators to determine factors that impact railway efficiency and how such factors were addressed. Furthermore, the discussion also points out the importance of government assistance and support to achieve the public’s service demands. Moreover, railway efficiency is attributed to customer satisfaction as the critical factors that hamper service quality delivery were alleviated (Beck, Bente, and Schilling 2013). Train operations and infrastructure is driven by cost and revenue. If a railway company invests on new vehicles, it is likely that asset investment will yield significant revenue. This is because an additional vehicle increases capacity, thus allowing more commuters and promotes convenience. The resulting effect of re-investment is more satisfied commuters and sustainable future for the train agency.
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Applying improvement models for improvement from the concept of reinvestment, cost, and revenue encompasses the need for funding, which Kenzler (2006) mentioned to come possibly from government support. A simplified representation of the cost/revenue model of a railway system is composed of currency unit measure and track operations density (Beck, Bente, and Schilling 2013).
Figure 2 Cost/Revenue Graph Model (Beck, Bente, and Schilling 2013).
The presented concepts that the Cost/Revenue model offers in this study is the application of important logical steps that results in commuter satisfaction. The major objective of the study is to establish the level of satisfaction of train commuters in Klang Valley. The service improvement model discussed by Beck, Bente, and Schilling (2013) contributes largely to this study. This is because the concept presented in the discussion provides the mechanism that helps identify problem causes. Identifying the root of the problem in Klang Valley train services is imperative in constructing the solution model for service quality improvement. In addition, identifying problem causes enables the justification of the perceived level of customer satisfaction. For example, if customer satisfaction was low, the main factor attributed to such is the insufficiency in train capacity; therefore, the suitable improvement strategy is to reinvest in new vehicles with the help of public funds.
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