Research: Signage in Stations and Trains

Signage is designed to convey information primarily to assist passengers with decision-making, therefore factors such as clarity, visibility, safety, accessibility, applicability and style are important elements to take into account in signage design. Good signage communicates with passengers effectively by using clear messages, appropriate shape and size, recognisable symbols and infographics, legible typefaces/fonts and clearly contrasting colours.

Selected factors involved in signage design

The study gathers information from 28 CoMET and Nova metros and looks into their guidelines for signage design, as well as good examples that have been implemented by metros. These examples are presented by exploring six key objectives: signage for clarity, signage for branding and identity, signage for safety and security, signage for wayfinding and navigation, signage for accessibility, and signage to encourage good behaviour. The enhancements carried out by metros to improve clarity, visibility and legibility of signage are also discussed in the report. Currently, metros are exploring various approaches to complement their static signage with new types of dynamic information to encourage greater passenger awareness and decision-making. This includes dynamic information for crowd control, passenger flow, and incident response, leading to an increasing use of digital signage, and other mobile applications.

Research: Reliability of Signalling Equipment

Signalling is a safety- and service-critical metro asset. Across CoMET and Nova metros, signalling is the second-highest cause of delay incidents, and cause approximately half of all delay incidents for very reliable metros. This study analysed information from 26 metros about their signalling equipment, looking in detail at six sub-assets: point machines, interlockings, track circuits, axle counters, train stops, and signal heads. The study compares these sub-assets, including their age, reliability, and inspection/maintenance regimes, and collects initiatives that metros are pursuing to improve signalling reliability.

Metros with older and more traditional signalling systems tend to have more trackside signalling equipment, which may lead to more potential for failure and greater need for maintenance interventions to maintain reliability. To improve signalling reliability metros are rationalising their asset bases, as well as pursuing both solutions that can be retrofitted into their existing systems and new systems such as CBTC.

Research: Digital Transformation of Metros

The Digital Transformation of Metros study reviewed the strategies, initiatives, and technologies used by metros to implement digital transformation for four key purposes: safety improvement, station operations and management, train operations, and depot management. In recent years there have been several digital trends observed in metros, including provision of real-time train loading information, centralised station management, customer-facing staff equipped with tablets, installation of passenger counting equipment, etc. Metros’ long-term digital transformation plans typically involve multi-phase programmes with strong support from management, employee expertise, and partnership with external parties. Ultimately, digital transformation is highly related to transforming employees. Therefore the study summarised metros’ good practices to create a digital culture, as well as ways to remove barriers along the journey to digital transformation.

Source: Community of Metros

RTSC Becomes the TSC

The Railway and Transport Strategy Centre (RTSC) at Imperial College London has a new name! In 2019, we became the Transport Strategy Centre (TSC) recognising the broad reach of our team’s work. The TSC works across public transport modes – metros, railways, buses and light rail, as well as airports.

For more information about the TSC and our work, please see our main website here.

As of early 2020, the TSC works with these cities around the world

Community of Metros News: CoMET 2019 Management Meeting in Madrid

The CoMET group convened in Madrid for the first meeting of the year. The CoMET 2019 Management Meeting welcomed all 17 members of CoMET for the first time since 2016. The group also welcomed metros visiting from Nova – Metropolitano de Lisboa, San Francisco BART, and Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona – and Tokyo Metro as observers to the meeting. Members were welcomed to the meeting by Borja Carabante, Chief Executive Officer at Metro de Madrid, and Rosalía Gonzales López, President of the Board of Directors of Metro de Madrid and the Regional Minister of Transport, Housing and Infrastructure. 

The group was particularly honoured to share in Metro de Madrid’s 100th Anniversary celebrations, taking place throughout 2019. During the meeting, members had the opportunity to learn about the history of Metro de Madrid through visits to Chamberi station museum, where a variety of restored trains and artefacts are on display, and Chamartín station, which is a good example of historical station design. Members also learned about Metro de Madrid’s “Estación 4.0” where new innovations for the metro are tested.

Members also exchanged their latest activities, challenges and initiatives during meeting sessions, as well as focusing on preparations and lessons learned from major events. The RTSC presented latest benchmarking results from studies such as Energy Saving Strategies, Escalator Management (Availability, Assets and Safety), and Metro Security, as well as exploring key performance indicators focusing on key areas of metro operations and management.

The annual Management Meeting is where the upcoming CoMET work programme is determined by the members. After voting on 36 potential topics for study in 2019, the group agreed on four studies for 2019 – a large study focusing on station staffing models, real-time travel information, and focused studies on best practices using signage in stations and trains, and digital transformation of metros. The studies will be carried out by the Railway and Transport Strategy Centre (RTSC) at Imperial College London over the next year.

Research: Modern Maintenance Practices

Technological advances have created the opportunity to transform maintenance practices to develop cost-efficient infrastructure management and improved system performance with regard to safety and reliability. To consider balance between preventive and corrective maintenance for managing track, switches and crossings, and civil structures, the study looked into what the optimal balance should be. Incorporating flexibility and slack into maintenance plans and focusing on dealing with the constraints of staff scheduling and limited track access, are strategies to increase the proportion of preventive works.

By analysing time-use during track access, the study identified major causal factors for lost time during possession to be travel and preparation. Therefore the strategies used by metros to reduce lost time were outlined in the study. The study also looked at key factors that influence maintenance costs, as well as examined metros’ outsourcing strategies.

Automation was seen to reduce the volume of labour necessary, particularly in labour intensive activities such as on-foot inspections. Three main areas of future maintenance practices with potential were identified: better data, improved maintenance practices, and renewals. Good practices in these areas were listed as examples in the report.

Research: Metro Security

Trends concerning crime were found to be highly regionalised both for types of crimes committed (against person, property etc.) and evolution. Over the period from 2012 to 2017, the rate of crimes across CoMET and Nova metros is decreasing for 65%, with the largest decreases occurring primarily at Asian metros that already have very low crime levels.

(Am – American Metro, As – Asian Metro, Eu – European Metro)

Patrols and CCTV are ubiquitous means of surveillance though they have different secondary benefits. Nearly all metros reported that security staff are multifunctional and can respond to customer queries as well as providing crowd control and passenger assistance. This is also typically complemented by station staff notifying security of issues and monitoring CCTV.

Technological advances were identified as key drivers of change within metro security both to inform strategies and to monitor crime. The key areas where advanced technology for security are developing include passenger screening, smart cameras, the use of apps, and the provision of enhanced infrastructure (such as 5G networks).

Research: Passenger Incident Management

On average for CoMET and Nova metros, passengers contribute to 17% of all incidents causing delays of five minutes or more.  The causes of passenger incidents range from suicide, vandalism, passenger taking ill, etc. The breakdown of passenger related incidents by cause and by delay threshold shows although the frequency of suicides is very low, those incidents take the longest to resolve.

As well as detailed benchmarking of the passenger-related causes and impacts of incidents at metros, the case study outlined metros’ best practices in  passenger incident management, including a data-driven approach in analysing passenger incident impacts, effective incident response by a clear chain of command, high levels of coordination with the emergency services, clear and consistent communications and procedures, appropriate staffing models and regular training with a focus on learning from past incidents.

Research: Optimisation of Train Availability

In 2017, the average peak hour train availability was 88% for all CoMET and Nova members. Main causes of train unavailability were planned preventive maintenance, unplanned corrective maintenance, refurbishments and major damages. The biggest constraint to train availability is related to train reliability issues, specifically train failures occurring outside of peak hours which cannot be repaired in time.

The study foucused on the four maintenance and operational approaches that are utilised by metros to optimise train availability: allocation of train maintenance, outsourcing train maintenance, flexibility in operations, and introduction of remote condition monitoring.

Metros’ biggest successes or their future plans in terms of improving train availability are related to optimisation of maintenance work to improve reliability, train refurbishment plans, and introduction of remote condition monitoring on trains.

Research: Escalator Management

The three-part scope of this case study covered escalator availability, safety and asset management. Firstly, the study explored definitions and targets for escalator availability and identify causes of, and solutions to, unavailability. Secondly, it identified low-cost practices to improve safety. Finally the study benchmarked escalator asset lives and the nature of maintenance interventions during the lifecycle.

Long-term actions that metros have taken to improve escalator availability are the operational and maintenance practices either to reduce failures from occurring or to restore availability as quickly as possible after escalators go out of service. This involves proactive maintenance work to ensure that escalators are in good condition during passenger service hours, and working with maintainers to optimise their response and supply chain.

Regarding escalator asset management, it is important to adopt a whole-life approach and assess maintenance approaches on this basis, considering the annualised cost of ownership, whole-life unavailability caused by maintenance, the scope and frequency of maintenance interventions throughout the lifecycle, and the customer-facing unavailability caused by maintenance.