A design study of metropolitan rail carriage interior configuration to improve boarding, alighting, passenger dispersal and dwell time stability
2019-02-22T03:37:35Z (GMT) by
Suburban railways around the world are experiencing a rapid increase in patronage. While this is a welcome development as an alternative to road congestion, higher passenger densities, particularly during peak times of the day, have implications for train punctuality, crowding, for accessibility and passenger comfort. Lau (2005) and Daamen et al. (2008) suggest that the design of the train carriage interior has a significant influence on accessibility and passenger dispersal. Evidence from current literature connects these factors to determining the length of time a train is held at a station, with consequences for service punctuality and network capacity. There is also evidence (Mees 2007) that rail transport operators face conflicting responses to the problem in balancing consistent timetables with passenger comfort. This exegesis describes a design study into the creation of an alternative train carriage design based on the physical parameters of Melbourne network infrastructure. Melbourne’s network was chosen for its proximity to the candidate’s studio activity but also for its particularly onerous problems of accommodating both a metro (short trip) system with a lengthy outer suburban service on tracks shared with regional and freight services. This research centred on a studio methodology that collated evidence from a wide range of related contemporary literature on the topic to inform an empirical design activity. The study embraced drawing, computer aided design, physical models and computer simulations to determine the efficacy of suggested concepts. The outcome is a design concept that consists of a series of innovations not only pertinent to Melbourne but with resonance further afield. These innovations embraced three key features to effect an improvement to dispersal and passenger ingress and egress: 1. extra doors that operate only during peak periods for increased passenger exchange. During off-peak periods, the space behind these temporary doors is occupied by seating. Accompanying the extra doors are physical and graphical devices to encourage patrons to move to the left to facilitate simultaneous boarding and alighting. 2. a central aisle of seating clusters with both longitudinal and transverse seating, creating two corridors down the length of the carriage. 3. folding seats that can be locked into an upright ‘perch’ position to create more standing positions during peak periods and released to form conventional seating during less crowded periods. These design innovations were modelled by computer crowd simulation software to establish their efficacy. The outcome of the modelling has shown that the concept design demonstrates a significant improvement in passenger accessibility, dispersal and dwell-time stability compared to existing Melbourne rolling stock for the same passenger loading capacity at peak time. This outcome represents a significant contribution to the research field and, if adopted, could have positive implications for network operations. However, a limitation of this research is acknowledged in that devising the concept from first principles, transport-operating companies and passengers would need to embrace a moderate level of cultural change to the prevailing norm. Exploring this adoption would point to the development of a future study.