How passengers behave at metro stations?

In this post, we would like to highlight two presentations on the topic of transport. On the 3 March 2017, Jiping Fang and Sebastian Seriani presented their research at the UCLU Chilean Society’s Academic Presentation Activity.

Jiping and Sebastian are both civil engineers and currently in their second and third year, respectively, of Ph.D. in Transport Studies at the Civil Environmental Geomatic Engineering (CEGE) in UCL.

The seminar started with the two presentations of Jiping and Sebastian, followed by 20 minutes of Q+A. At the ends of the seminar participants worked in groups to answer and discuss the question: Which factors you consider most important for choosing your boarding car/door? And why?

  • Presentation 1: Initial findings of passenger distribution on platform at metro station based on passengers’ choices for boarding cars (by Jiping Fang, 

    With an increasing number of passengers using the Tube (increased 33% since last 10 years), London Underground has to provide more capacity on its lines by operating higher frequency train services. It is planned that there will be 33% more capacity on the modernized Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines.

    The most important element to affect the service reliability to run high frequency is passenger boarding and alighting time (BAT), especially the BAT of the critical car of a train caused by uneven passenger distribution on platform and train. Generally, passengers are more likely to get off the train from the same car they board. Therefore, passengers’ choices on boarding cars are the essential leading to uneven train loading. Only if having a better understanding on how passengers choosing their boarding cars can we propose targeted solutions for ensuring the schemed BAT and a reliable service of high frequency.

    Although there is strange passenger distribution appearing on the platform, it can be well explained when assuming all the passengers board on the cars that are closest to the exits at their destination stations.

    The initial findings are showed as followed: a) Minimizing the walking distance at destination station is a very important factor affecting passengers’ choice for boarding cars, especially for commuters at morning peak; b) Minimizing the walking distance and maximizing comfort (seeking seats) affect passengers choosing behaviors largely; c) With the number of boarder increasing, passenger distribution on train become even, which means the influence of interaction between passengers on board and on platform become larger; d) There can be large differences of passenger distribution between different trains.

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  • Presentation 2: Effect of platform edge doors and level access on passengers’ behaviour and interaction at metro stations (by Sebastian Seriani,

    The platform train interface (PTI) is the space where most interactions occur between passengers boarding and alighting. This complex space presents different risks and hazards for passengers. Accidents can occur during boarding and alighting or simply at the platform edge even when there is no boarding or alighting.

    To reduce interaction problems, platform edge doors (PEDs) have been installed at various stations around the world. Currently, the London Underground (LU) network has PEDs in nine stations on the Jubilee Line. These elements work as sliding barriers between the train and the platform. Although PEDs are used mainly for safety and ventilation reasons, there is a common assumption that the presence of PEDs increases the boarding and alighting time (BAT) due to their limitations (e.g. different types of trains, stopping position location on the platform, curved platforms, vertical gaps).

    The general objective of this research is to study the effect of PEDs and level access on the behaviour and interaction of passengers boarding and alighting at metro stations.

    The hypothesis of this study is that PEDs can be used as door indicators, in which passengers are waiting beside the doors rather than in front of the doors, affecting the BAT, IT, formation of lanes, type of queues, density by layer and distance between passengers.

    The approached used was laboratory experiments based on observation at LU. Different experiments were prepared at the Pedestrian Accessibility Movement Environmental Laboratory (PAMELA), in which 120 participants were recruited and different scenarios of simulation were performed to represent the gaps, PEDs, etc. The software PETRACK was used to identify the location of passengers on the platform. For the observation, it was used Westminster and Green Park stations. Both stations are important interchange stations of the Jubilee Line. The main difference between them is that Westminster has PEDs, while Green Park does not. It was considered peak hour AM and PM, during 2 weeks of analysis.

    The results showed that there is no relevant impact of PEDs on the BAT, however these elements changed the behaviour of passengers on the platform by waiting beside the doors rather than in front (before the train arrives). Passengers were concentrated in the middle of the platform, following a Multinomial distribution.

    In addition, it was found that as the value of R (boarding/alighting) increased, the number of lanes for alighting at the doors decreased. The space used by each passenger alighting was represented as an asymmetrical ellipse, in which the longitudinal and lateral radii were affected by the collision avoidance of a person in front of him/her and by the interaction with other passengers alighting or waiting to board the train.

    As a summary of the results, it is proposed a classification of the level of interaction (LOI). According to the density by layer on the platform (before the doors opened), it is possible to know what is the distance between passengers, type of queue and formation of lanes. The LOI was classified into three categories: low, medium and high.

    Further research is needed to identify other ways to reduce interaction problems such as using crowd management measures (e.g. queue lanes or waiting areas) on the platform.

    Reference: if you would like to follow this research please see reference below.

    • De Ana Rodríguez, G., Seriani, S., Holloway, C. (2016). Impact of platform edge doors on passengers’ boarding and alighting time and platform behavior. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 2540, 102-110.
    • Seriani, S., Fujiyama, T., Holloway, C. (2017). Exploring the pedestrian level of interaction on platform conflict areas at metro stations by real-scale laboratory experiments. Transportation Planning and Technology, 40(1), 100-118.