Mark Meeder, Researcher and Lecturer, and Ernst Bosina, Crowd Management Engineer

How do you test the architectural design of the pedestrian facilities at Lausanne railway station?




Lausanne’s railway station dates back to the year 1856. Over the years, it grew more and more important and had to be reconstructed and extended several times. In 2015, it was decided to adapt the infrastructure again and to make it ready for future needs. The proposed construction plan involved widening the train platforms, extending the metro system, and creating three underpasses for pedestrians. The aim was to achieve an optimal distribution of the vastly increased numbers of passengers across the three underpasses, whilst maintaining satisfying service and safety levels for all pedestrians.

We identified several problematic areas in the new pedestrian architecture of the Lausanne train station and proposed measures to increase safety and efficiency.”

A complex system of subterranean hallways
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 to analyse the proposed construction plans. That’s where we came in. We used the pedestrian simulation software PTV Viswalk to test the architectural design and to verify whether all pedestrian flows could be managed without delays and with appropriate levels of service. Because of the crowded rush hour and dense timetable in Lausanne as well as the extremely limited underground space in the station vicinity, the simulation model consisted of a complex architectural system of subterranean hallways, ramps and crossings, as well as an origin-destination matrix with roughly a thousand cells. The model further featured over one hundred origin and destination points as well as an intricate underground tunnel system with dozens of hallways, ramps and crossings.


Identifying the most crowded areas
We were able to locate problematic areas within the station design, and proposed measures to counter excessive crowding at these points. In particular, we recommended special pedestrian guidance measures during the morning rush hours, rounded corners, removing all obstacles from the hallways and underpasses, and even brought up the idea of restricting the number of passengers allowed on the metro platforms.
More about the research team:
About Mark Meeder
Mark studied Applied Physics at TU Delft. His interests then moved towards transport systems and spatial planning, a field in which he is pursuing a PhD at ETH Zurich. For over six years now, he has been part of the Institute for Transport Planning and Systems at ETH Zurich, working as a Scientific Assistant and Lecturer.
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About Ernst Bosina
Ernst studied Environmental Engineering at the University of Natural Resources and Life Science (BOKU) in Vienna. In 2012 he joined the Institute for Transport Planning and Systems at ETH Zurich as a Research Assistant. After finishing his PhD in pedestrian transport, Ernst started working for the Swiss Federal Railway SBB CFF FFS.
Connect with Ernst on LinkedIn
Get to know the PTV Expert:
Tobias Kretz, Chief Product Manager PTV Viswalk at PTV Group
PTV Viswalk is used worldwide to simulate pedestrians and crowds, not just at train stations but also at airports, big events, buildings, intersections or stadiums. It allows you to improve daily operation management, to conduct evacuation, capacity and safety analysis, and to plan for the future.
If you are particularly interested in assessing pedestrian flows at train stations, you might want to take a look at this case study conducted at Amsterdam Central Station. And of course, I can always recommend joining our User Forum on LinkedIn to connect with experts from PTV, researchers and practitioners from all over the world.

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