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Wiener Linien’s metro station ‘Stadium’ Meeting challenges of big events

Posted: 3 January 2012 | Thomas Kritzer, Deputy Head of Metro Operations, Wiener Linien, Chairman of the UITP Security Commission and Intelligent Transport Editorial Board Member | No comments yet

Big events in urban areas involving lots of customers are a regular challenge for public transport operators. Wiener Linien has decades of experience in successfully managing big events and lots of customers.

Shortly before Euro 2008, the European football cup held in Austria and Switzerland, Wiener Linien opened a new station on the metro line U2 close to the Viennese football stadium, only about 200m away. Different to other public transport operators, Wiener Linien could build a new station right from the planning phase. The challenge was to give a great number of the approximate 50,000 spectators a high quality public transport travel opportunity, very close to the stadium. Transport before the event is challenging, but easier, as people reach the site over a longer period of time. However, at the end of an event, no matter if it is a football match or a rock concert, a huge number of people want to use public transport – immediately and all at the same time.

It was clear that a normal station ‘setting’ would not meet the requirements of such an event. Wiener Linien, together with architects and supported by the Österreichisches Institut für Schul- und Sportstättenplanung (Austrian Institute for planning of school and sport venues), developed a station building to be used as a ‘normal’ metro station, but also as a station fitting for big events.

Big events in urban areas involving lots of customers are a regular challenge for public transport operators. Wiener Linien has decades of experience in successfully managing big events and lots of customers. Shortly before Euro 2008, the European football cup held in Austria and Switzerland, Wiener Linien opened a new station on the metro line U2 close to the Viennese football stadium, only about 200m away. Different to other public transport operators, Wiener Linien could build a new station right from the planning phase. The challenge was to give a great number of the approximate 50,000 spectators a high quality public transport travel opportunity, very close to the stadium. Transport before the event is challenging, but easier, as people reach the site over a longer period of time. However, at the end of an event, no matter if it is a football match or a rock concert, a huge number of people want to use public transport – immediately and all at the same time. It was clear that a normal station ‘setting’ would not meet the requirements of such an event. Wiener Linien, together with architects and supported by the Österreichisches Institut für Schul- und Sportstättenplanung (Austrian Institute for planning of school and sport venues), developed a station building to be used as a ‘normal’ metro station, but also as a station fitting for big events.

Big events in urban areas involving lots of customers are a regular challenge for public transport operators. Wiener Linien has decades of experience in successfully managing big events and lots of customers.

Shortly before Euro 2008, the European football cup held in Austria and Switzerland, Wiener Linien opened a new station on the metro line U2 close to the Viennese football stadium, only about 200m away. Different to other public transport operators, Wiener Linien could build a new station right from the planning phase. The challenge was to give a great number of the approximate 50,000 spectators a high quality public transport travel opportunity, very close to the stadium. Transport before the event is challenging, but easier, as people reach the site over a longer period of time. However, at the end of an event, no matter if it is a football match or a rock concert, a huge number of people want to use public transport – immediately and all at the same time.

It was clear that a normal station ‘setting’ would not meet the requirements of such an event. Wiener Linien, together with architects and supported by the Österreichisches Institut für Schul- und Sportstättenplanung (Austrian Institute for planning of school and sport venues), developed a station building to be used as a ‘normal’ metro station, but also as a station fitting for big events.

With a maximum headway down to two minutes and a capacity of approximately 880 customers per train, a travel capacity of 24,000 customers / hour / one direction is possible.

Three track construction

The station was constructed as fully encased elevated bridge construction with two symmetric middle platforms and three tracks, necessary for the aforementioned headway. Two middle platforms were built to be ready for customers to board the trains easily and quickly. As the station is situated elevated, daylight and bright architectural design helps to make the customer feel secure and comfortable. Following the station a multi-track reverser was built for use during big events so that additional trains can be available. The station is connected to one of the metro train depots via a 1.5km tunnel, enabling easy use of additional trains in peak times before and after events.

Separated event area

The station is divided in two separated areas, with normal entrances, as every other metro station, and a special event area. As the station can normally be entered by front and rear staircases at the ends of the platforms, the event area is separated under the elevated construction.

The event area underneath the elevated platforms on ground level is connected via four staircases, each directly leading to the two platforms. Spectators can quickly and easily leave and enter the station. The event area being situated on the ground level allows for easy access for the emergency forces more easy, in case of an incident or panic. Bright lighting and loudspeakers are obligatory as is CCTV; transparency and easy ground level access to the entrances and exits make the station easy observable.

The philosophy of the construction is – almost similar to a stadium – to give customers the possibility to leave or board the train over the whole length of the platform, so distances to and from the level under the elevated track and platform level are short and easily accessible, avoiding long walks and turbulences on the platform.

General architectural planning is the backbone of a safe operation. The construction is resistant against attacks of vandalism, built of concrete and non-climeable fences inside the event area. The width of the entrance areas and staircases are constructed for maximum capacity depending on the shortest possible headways.

An entrance square with ‘wave-breakers’ is situated in front of the station to reduce the speed and pressure of the crowd approaching the station. Customers are kept outside the station during their waiting time. The square in front of the station is equipped with bright lighting, information displays and loudspeakers to inform the waiting crowd. The station can only be entered from the square through separated entrances, signalled with a green arrow.

Having passed these entrance doors the station can only be reached through speed reducing gates, followed by a second row of entrance doors with closeable portal doors. These are operated and supervised by staff, with support of the RAVE system and the passenger counting and event management IT system in the background.

Next, customers must pass through four separated corridors to reach the staircases leading up to the platforms.

The philosophy of this construction is that every customer, once having entered the station, can reach a train in a continuous ‘flow’. There should be no waiting time anywhere in the station. The trains dispatch procedure is prepared to always have an accessible train on the platform. If the train is dispatched, the next train is following on the opposite track of the middle platform.

Additional equipment

Entrance area with advanced guiding system

Coming from the stadium customers are guided towards the event area entrances by large signs with background illumination. The normal station entrances are only accessible for handicapped or mobility reduced customers.

At the entrance square customers can be informed via loudspeakers but also with LEDs about waiting times or other operational information.

The event entrances opened for customers are marked with green arrows situated over the whole length of the station to spread already approaching customers over the whole width of the platforms and keep queues on the platforms as short as possible.

Security areas and emergency exits for evacuation

In between the four customer corridors that lead to the platform staircases, security areas are situated separately from the public areas. These areas can be reached from outside the station by emergency forces, police, fire brigades or internal staff. They are connected with normally locked doors to the public areas. This enables a quick, independent emergency approach to support customers or avoid incidents or other disturbing events.

The four corridors leading to the staircases are each equipped with an additional separate emergency exit. Should there be a panic or incident on the staircases, the crowd, approaching behind the involved people, would just ‘flow’ towards the emergency exits with antipanic gates and directly out of the station, hopefully avoiding any injuries.

Pulpits

The platforms are equipped with elevated pulpits, about 1.2m above the level of platforms, where staff support the direction of customer flow and dispatching of the trains. It enables the staff to have an excellent overview of the platforms and customers, and is equipped with CCTV monitors and a customer information system. The CCTV pictures provide an overview of the entrance square and event area.

CCTV

The station is equipped with CCTV cameras as part of the advanced standard at Wiener Linien’s metro stations since 2006. Approximately 70 cameras cover almost all areas of the station – both the ‘normal’ station as well as the event area. The pictures are transmitted to the OCC, the local station control centre, and parts of them then to the pulpits. Supervising the pictures of the event area enables staff to react quickly to developments ‘coming up’ the entrance way.

In the local station control centre, a second working place for the police was established to enable parallel but independent surveillance of the CCTV pictures. All pictures of the station can be selected to be shown on two separated monitor walls. The customers in the whole station area can be informed via loudspeakers from the local control centre.

RAVE

Wiener Linien, together with their partner AIT (Austrian Institute of Technology) completed a Research & Development project, supported by the Austrian Ministry for Transport and Innovation, at that specific station for that specific challenge called RAVE (Rechnergestützte Abwicklung des Veranstaltungsverkehrs) (= IT based manage – ment of event traffic) to develop a tool to support safe and secure handling of big crowds and events. It enables the operator to use the operational capacity of the station as best as possible.

The staircases, leading the customers to the platform, are equipped with an infrared CCTV system for passenger counting. These counts are fed into an algorithm, developed in the project and managed by a specific IT-architecture, to calculate the actual number of passengers present inside the station. With these numbers, the predefined headway and other data, the system proposes the level of opening the portal doors at the ‘second’ entrance row of the station to the staff supervising the entrances. The eight gates can be opened for each separately in three different levels including a ‘Closed’. The effect is that only the number of passengers equivalent to the actual capacity can enter the station. This enables safe operation in the station and raises the safety and security (feeling) of the customers.

Experiences during operation

As the station has already been in use for more than three years now a lot of events with different characteristics; football matches, other sports events, religious services, rock concerts have taken place, and the station has proved its usability.

Generally speaking, from the safety and security aspect, continuous operational service is the best ‘self insurance’ for an operator to satisfy its customers and protect its assets and staff. The customer will arrive at his destination quickly and safely.

Irrespective of the newly developed construction and advanced technical tools supporting operations, the human factor – staff – are still irreplaceable in supervising and steering the whole operational process.

Before the beginning of events, customers normally arrive during a widespread time slot. Their arrival must be supervised by staff and police to avoid any major problems. The event area in the station proved its usability in encouraging the arriving crowds towards the exits of the station and towards the stadium in a safe and secure way. With maximum headway of three minutes during arrival time, the crowd flow is no problem for the operations staff over a longer period before an event.

The bigger challenge at this site is the transport back after the event. Even with a capacity of more than 20,000 customers per hour on this site, waiting times are unfortunately obligatory. People wait outside the station, and must be kept informed and supervised to guarantee a high level of safety inside the station and of security all around.

The developed operational procedures are necessary to use technical devices with full strength. They are never stand-alone solutions, but integrated tools supporting operations. Wiener Linien put a lot of effort in keeping the customer ‘moving’ inside the station to avoid critical situations concerning safety and security. Staff must still be provided, especially for being prepared for the unexpected, for example an instabile headway that brings the crowd to stop somewhere on the way to the platform, and to observe and supervise the huge crowds moving towards the trains, together with the police.

The ‘small’ entrance doors provide people from uncontrolled access, but it has proved necessary to observe the people flowing from the stadium towards the station. They must be kept informed about the waiting times, and any possible interruption on service, having direct impact on their waiting time.

After more than three years of operation, the ’Stadium‘ station has proved its usability during big events, ‘state-of–the-art’ technical solutions support the responsible staff, on-site and in the control centre in the best possible way. With the RAVE project a new way of managing big numbers of customers was successfully tested. Wiener Linien are looking forward to further big events being successfully managed in the ’Stadium’ station.

 

About the Author

Thomas Kritzer joined Wiener Linien in 2004 and is currently the Deputy Head of the Metro Operations Department which is responsible for the operation and supervising Vienna’s five metro lines. Thomas was responsible for the operational implementation of CCTV recording procedures in Vienna’s Metro system and the planning for Vienna’s metro operation during the EURO 2008 championships. Thomas has been a member of the UITP Security Commission since 2008 – holding the Vice-Chairman position for two years before being elected as Chairman in April 2011.

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