PTV Viswalk Success Story: ProRail Amsterdam

PTV Viswalk Success Story: ProRail Amsterdam
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PTV Viswalk Success Story: ProRail Amsterdam

Amsterdam Central Station is a historic building located on an artificial island in the city centre and is the busiest station in The Netherlands. Due to the need to expand the capacity of the station and the construction of the new North-South metro line and a new bus station, ProRail, NS Poort and the City of Amsterdam are jointly undertaking major construction works on the station island. In order to verify the acceptability of the flow of passengers, ProRail has commissioned a study using PTV Viswalk, a pedestrian simulation software by PTV.

In 1889 the Amsterdam Central Station was opened to the public and at that time approximately 200 trains arrived at and departed from the main station every day. Today more than 80 trains operate during the two morning peak hours resulting in 46,500 people arriving, leaving and passing through the station. With a total of 250,000 visitors per day, the morning peak hour comprises 20% of the daily total.

In 2013, excellent regional train connections (North-South line), the new bus terminal and a direct link to Paris with the TGV, the French high-speed-train, will broaden Amsterdam’s range of mobility services. An increase by approximately 50,000 visitors to 300,000 people is expected by next year.

Several construction projects are ongoing to enhance the station and accommodate the increased passenger numbers. To this end, ProRail, the Dutch infrastructure manager, together with NS Poort is planning to enlarge the eastern passenger tunnel, to renovate the central station hall, to create two new pedestrian underpasses and to create parking facilities for 10,000 bicycles. The correlated construction of these facilities will have an impact on the current passenger routes. VIALIS, the Dutch PTV partner and specialist in traffic solutions in the Netherlands, has advised ProRail on this evaluation process: To assess the pedestrian routes efficiently during the construction period, the company has opted for PTV Viswalk, a software tool specifically designed for pedestrian simulation.

It is the first major project planned with PTV Viswalk. The tool was launched by the German software provider PTV in autumn 2011.

Warm-up Phase for PTV Viswalk

VIALIS has created several smaller partial models. In doing so, the company was able to assess the impact of route choice, pedestrian ingress/egress flows and other parameters.

Usually, projects of this magnitude do not always run smoothly during the simulation runs. VIALIS was able to quickly solve software-related issues via PTV’s helpdesk. However, the lack of validated high quality data caused a major problem.

The data obtained from these counts enabled the planners to calibrate the chosen route sections more effectively.

Demand for Pedestrian-Specific Solution

Why should one take the risk to use a completely new product for a project of this size?

In combination with PTV Vissim this tool develops unique multimodal capabilities and perfectly simulates the interaction between pedestrians and vehicles. Dwell time as well as journey and waiting time can thus be analysed, including the assessment of alternative routes.

One of its special features is dynamic routing. Usually, both drivers and pedestrians want to get to their destination as quickly as possible. The quickest route is often very similar to the shortest route.

However, there are situations where this “rule” does not apply – the simplest of which is when a large group of pedestrians is doing a u-turn, for example. The “detour”, i.e. the larger radius, is then expected to be the faster solution. PTV Viswalk includes both the shortest and quickest route in the simulation, either as an alternative or a combination, and therefore allows users to realistically simulate pedestrian behaviour.

A Scientific Approach in Amsterdam with PTV

The interaction of pedestrians can be described by means of the Social Force Model: pedestrian movements that are affected by different physical and social forces are modelled inspired by Newton Dynamics. One of the forces is the driving force: Pedestrians move purposefully as a rule, meaning they walk at a desired speed toward their destination. Various elements influence them and prevent them from exactly taking the desired route or walking at the desired speed. In this context, pedestrians always maintain a kind of safety distance or personal space, not only to other pedestrians but also to obstacles, buildings or streets. This distance usually gets shorter with an increasing number of pedestrians, or if they are in a hurry. PTV Viswalk is based on the Social Force model.

Impressive Results

The first step was to simulate the current situation at Amsterdam’s Central Station by developing a pedestrian model. The statistical output showed outstanding results: The data on the level of services for the stairways, the pedestrian underpass and the platforms was extremely useful for discussing the range of possible solutions to mitigate the impact of construction activities.

VIALIS was able to show the impact on the pedestrian flow for several operational changes such as rerouting trains to other platforms, for example.

As a result PTV Viswalk continues to support the next phases of the construction of Amsterdam Central Station.

>> Read the full case study

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