Meeting the needs of our direct customers, the railway companies, and the passengers who use our stations, as well as taking on board the wishes of all our stakeholders, is at the heart of what we strive to do as a company. Offering quality and creating shared value

To focus our efforts towards quality and supply objectives that meet the real needs of passengers at stations, the Railway Companies providing their transport services on our network and the communities affected by railway projects and other stakeholders, we have at our disposal a number of different tools according to the business processes and stakeholders involved. These range from our discussion forums, consultation procedures and public report and complaint web channel to a structured system for conducting fieldwork surveys of the opinions and wishes of our stakeholders.

Since 2012, we have had our own Market Observatory (MO), a laboratory for research, analysis and permanent monitoring of the level of quality perceived by the recipients of our services, the indicators of quality provided, the travel behaviour of people, current and potential train users, and the wishes, opinions, needs and travel preferences of citizens.

Carried out in collaboration with leading research institutes selected by means of a European tender (the most recent of which was awarded at the end of 2017 to the temporary business association Scenari/Doxa), RFI’s MO conducts permanent surveys, divided into 6 specific observatories, as well as ad hoc surveys, conducted in response to the gradually emerging needs for knowledge and dialogue. All the results collected by the various observatories are made available to management through an online portal to make the dissemination of information more widespread and effective.

The common objective of all the MO’s activities is to support the definition of our development and improvement plans and actions on the basis of feedback and expectations from our stakeholders.

The permanent surveys of passengers using our stations and the services they offer include:

►   the PASSENGER observatory, with which we conduct customer satisfaction analysis. Created in 2004 with the aim of supplying Service Charter indicators, it has evolved over time to become one of the largest market surveys in Italy. To date, the research involves carrying out approximately 180,000 face-to-face interviews with an equal number of selected travellers at around 750 stations receiving more than 94% of passengers arriving at/departing from the more than 2,000 active RFI stations.  The survey makes it possible to determine monthly satisfaction indicators for the various locations/services at the station on the basis of ten distinct quality macro-factors.  For RFI, it is a strategic and operational planning support tool capable of providing, by analysing time series, general and local improvement plans aimed at all areas of activity at the station, from décor to cleanliness and from commercial services to corporate protection. The results are disseminated to all company management and shared with third party companies holding service contracts with RFI.  

The travel behaviour of respondents is also analysed during these interviews, especially with regard to the methods of transport used to reach/leave the stations. This is used to establish station development plans to enhance their value as intermodal hubs and centres for local development, benefiting sustainable mobility and city development.

The stations in the sample are also the subject of an audit involving about 10,000 inspections a year using the mystery customer technique. During the audits, the inspectors check whether the various areas of the station meet certain quality requirements. In the event of any discrepancies, the inspectors collect photographic evidence which is made available in real time so that appropriate action can be taken.

►   The SALA BLU observatory: a monthly survey conducted by telephone among an annual sample of around 2,000 service users. The interview covers the customer's entire experience, from booking to arrival at the destination station. The survey determines satisfaction indicators for about 40 service features. The data are determined both for the entire network and for each individual Sala Blu point used.

►  The SECURITY observatory, launched in 2018, will carry out around 50,000 interviews per year in two survey sessions. It uses a mixed interview technique (face-to-face and telephone) and was created with the aim of investigating issues relating to passengers' perception of safety and security in stations and on board trains, as these are strategic variables influencing the criteria for choosing a means of transport. The large sample base makes it possible to carry out analyses of the entire network, but also of each local area, thus making it possible to identify any specific critical issues.  

The permanent surveys dedicated to Railway Undertakings and other operators using our network and services concern:

the Passenger RU, Freight RU and MTO observatories: these are addressed to the direct customers of RFI and its subsidiary Terminali Italia in order to annually assess their level of satisfaction with the articulated system of services made available to them both in the area of passenger and freight transport and terminal services.

The survey on RUs covers all companies that have a framework agreement or contract of use with RFI. Given the complexity of the topics covered, the interviews, which are mainly addressed to CEOs, Commercial Directors or Production Managers of the companies, are conducted by expert interviewers following a quantitative-qualitative approach in order to allow satisfaction indicators to be defined and the individual subject areas to be examined. The questionnaire on which the interviews are based is divided into areas/processes for each of which different macro- and micro-factors are investigated. On the basis of the results of the surveys, appropriate improvement actions are implemented for those factors that show insufficient levels of satisfaction


Ad hoc surveys are carried out whenever there is a specific need to hear from stakeholders, whether in connection with the development of infrastructure projects, the emergence of important matters for improving the quality of the services offered, or the definition of the Company's materiality matrix, i.e. RFI’s areas of action considered to be of greatest importance by internal and external stakeholders and on which to focus the Company's attention improving sustainable development objectives and creating shared value.

Recently, the Covid-19 health pandemic suggested that it would be appropriate to create a special Observatory on passengers' sentiments in the Covid era. This has resulted in three distinct lines of research being developed to monitor the evolution of the behaviour, expectations and judgements of current and potential station users during the re-opening stage following lockdown.  The areas of research concern:

- passengers, with 13,500 telephone interviews, distributed over three survey waves with twin samples of station users in 2019,

- passengers who have used the assistance services offered by the RFI Sala Blu points, with quality focus groups analysing the new needs that the pandemic has fuelled in passengers with disabilities and reduced mobility, and

- the Italian population of train users and non-users, with 5,000 telephone interviews with a representative sample of the adult population, analysing the changes caused by the pandemic in the travel behaviour and lifestyles of Italians, with the aim of assessing the medium-term effects.