Customer engagement and value co-creation in public transport services: A study of railway services in Wales

This research project is available across the ESRC Wales (DTP). Find out more information about the DTP and how to apply.

This project aims to provide customer insight by addressing three key research questions outlined below.


Public transport providers play a crucial role in improving citizens’ quality of life and well-being whilst contributing to reduced levels of pollutions and emissions (Mugion et al. 2018; Jackson, 2005). The study is framed in the context of Wales, but the findings could be transferable to similar types of services within the UK and globally.

TfW Rail Services aims to deliver an excellent railway service for Wales and its communities. One of the main challenges in addressing the modernisation and transformation of railway services in Wales is the public’s unfavourable perceptions towards the current service. To enhance customer engagement and experience, this study proposes co-creation as a modern view where the customers of TfW Rail Services are active participants in the design and implementation of the value-creation process, in line with the Service-Dominant Logic approach (SDL) (Vargo and Lusch, 2008). This contrasts the traditional view that customers of public transport services are passive receivers (Lovelock et al., 1987).

The SDL posits that value is always co-created between multiple actors and such value will lead to an enhanced consumption experience (Vorre-Hansen, 2017; Saarijärvi et al., 2013). A number of studies have advanced understanding of drivers of co-creation (Breidbach et al., 2013; Payne et al., 2009). However, only a few have carried out empirical research to assess the impact of co-creation on consumer behaviour (Navarro et al., 2016) and only one has done so in the context of the railway sector (Gebauer et al., 2010).

Project methods and aims

Gebauer et al. (2010) identified five co-creation elements: (i) customer engagement; (ii) self-service; (iii) customer experience; (iv) problem-solving; and (v) co-design, which can lead to performance improvements in public transport services. This project aims to provide customer insight by addressing the following research questions:

  1. What are the customer perceptions of value and their experience of the current rail service?
  2. What are the customer value propositions for a public rail service?
  3. How do we embed the identified five value co-creation elements within the railway service industry?

A mixed research design is anticipated, which could be integrated into an action-research design:

  1. Secondary data analysis to identify challenges and successful examples.
  2. Qualitative research including in-depth interviews and focus groups with senior executives and employees of TfW Rail Services, community groups and railway users to explore perceptions of the current public railway services.
  3. Surveys to gauge railway users’ perceptions and expectations related to customer experience, perceived value and engagement.


Dr Mirella Yani-De-Soriano

Reader in Marketing

+ 44 (0) 29 2087 5699
Andrew Potter

Dr Andrew Potter

Reader in Logistics and Transport, Deputy Head of Section (Learning and Teaching)

+44 (0)29 2087 5214
Nicole Koenig-Lewis

Dr Nicole Koenig-Lewis

Reader in Marketing

+44 (29) 2087 0967

Programme information

For programme structure, entry requirements and how to apply, visit the programme.

View programme

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