Simulating complex underground facilities at Lausanne Main Station

Simulation software is a powerful tool for analyzing complex pedestrian infrastructures. In Lausanne main railway station, PTV Viswalk software was used to determine the effects of a redesign of a subterranean pedestrian complex. The simulation model included over 100 origin and destination points, as well as an underground tunnel system with dozens of hallways, ramps and crossings.

In 2015, Lausanne’s main station was about to be reconstructed and extended, including widening of its train platforms. However, due to lack of space the platforms could not be over 10 meters wide. To address, three underpasses were planned to equally distribute passengers to the platforms.

In addition, the metro lines reaching the station were about to be extended. This required to completely redesign the pedestrian facilities linking the metro stations to the rail platforms.

It was necesarry to achieve an optimal distribution of the increased number of passengers walking in the three underpasses, while maintaining safety and quality service.

The canton of Vaud, the metro provider TL, and Swiss Federal Railways SBB asked the ETH Institute for Transport Planning and Systems to conduct a study and analyze the proposed construction plans. The researches used PTV Viswalk to simulate pedestrian flows, and to calculate the expected numbers of passengers waiting at the metro platforms situated directly below the rail station.

The model simulated the complex architectural system of subterranean hallways, ramps and crossings. It also included an origin-destination matrix, with roughly a thousand cells.

Using PTV Viswalk, the researchers were able to locate problematic areas within the station design and propose measures to counter excessive crowding at these points.

For example, the results showed that the one of the metro platforms is expected to be the most heavily used area of the entire main station. To ensure smooth and safe operations during the morning rush hour, this area will require special pedestrian measures.

Other underground parts - like the space between the metro lines and the stairs to the train platforms - will also be heavily crowded. For these hallways and underpasses, the researchers recommended additional pedestrian measures, such as rounded corners and removal of all obstacles.

The Results

Model simulating station’s entire underground complex

Problematic areas identified in station design

Proposed measures to counter overcrowding

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