German Railways makes stations fit for the future

Nobody likes overcrowded train stations. Apart from the inconvenience, the slow-moving flow of passengers on platforms may cause some commuters to miss their connecting trains. And, in case of an emergency, evacuating these areas will be slower.

This challenge of overcrowded stations was recently tackled by Germany’s state railway operator, Deutsche Bahn (DB). The project, launched in early 2021, is supported by modeling and simulations created with PTV Visum and PTV Viswalk software.

As a first step, DB needed to find out which of the hundreds of stations it operates have capacity constraints, or bottlenecks. Then, it uses more detailed models to simulate pedestrian flows in the respective stations - and test out potential solutions.

Using PTV Visum, macroscopic models were developed and simulations of passenger flows in stations conducted. It was analyzed how the flows in stations are affected by the existing train schedule and the installed station infrastructure. The simulations run fast, and potential bottlenecks can be easily detected for each station.

In an additional project phase, microscopic simulation software PTV Viswalk was applied. It simulates, in a higher level of detail, how passengers’ movements are affected by existing station infrastructure, for example at staircases, waiting areas, and platforms. DB aimed to identify so called “reference cases” that can be found in many stations and define general design criteria to improve passenger flow (e.g., width of staircases).

Andreas Bürgler, DB’s Head of Station Capacity Management, says: “PTV software is exactly what we needed for these kinds of passenger simulations at our stations. We used a procedure in the software to simulate dynamic demand along paths from a static assignment. The results are volumes per time interval for each object, that can be compared with capacities – helping us to find the potential bottlenecks. The procedure is super-fast and the results meaningful.”

Following the first results of this project, DB decided to expand the scope of the analysis. It plans to simulate about 100 stations by end of 2022, with more to come later for a total of 300 stations.

PTV software is exactly what we needed for these kinds of passenger simulations at our stations. The procedure is super-fast and the results meaningful

Andreas Buergler Head of Station Capacity Management, Deutsche Bahn

The Results

Passenger flow in 100 train stations simulated

Passenger bottlenecks identified

Station design standards set for selected reference cases

Measures to ease overcrowding simulated and studied

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