Modeling and optimization of pedestrian flows

The aim of the project is to analyze, model and optimize pedestrian flows in train stations.

In recent years, the growing number of passengers has led to difficulties related to pedestrian flows in major train stations. Congestion of pedestrian walkways is increasingly becoming a problem during peak hours, but also due to clustering of people caused by major events or the beginning or end of holiday season. When capacity limits for pedestrian facilities are reached, normal operation of train schedules can be significantly impaired. Since train stations are important nodes within the multimodal public transportation system, it is of major importance that they are operated as efficiently as possible.

In addition to the increase in passenger numbers, train stations have been undergoing a profound transformation from simple transit nodes towards versatile hubs that provide interface to short and long-distance train connections, to other modes including private transport by foot, bike and car, as well as to the city offering public space for shopping, eating and alike. This transformation leads to a further increase in pedestrian numbers and additionally introduces new behavior patterns. A sound understanding of pedestrian flows within a train station can help improve overall level of service, customer experience and safety.

The main focus of this research study lies on the development of a methodology allowing to estimate pedestrian origin-destination (OD) demand within a train station. Specifically, train time table, customer survey data and live flow observations in Lausanne and Basel stations from an exhaustive camera system are used as sources of information in this process. Subsequently, the modeling framework is applied to several case studies in Switzerland.

This research project will last 3 years and will be conducted by the Transport and Mobility Laboratory. It is sponsored by Swiss Federal Railways.

Principal investigator Prof. Michel Bierlaire
Project managers Riccardo Scarinci, Michaël Thémans
Period 2012-2015 (36 months)
Laboratories TRANSP-OR, LTS5
Partner VisioSafe
Collaboration TRACE