Research: Enhancing Platform Safety without Platform Doors

The highest risk area to passenger safety within metro systems is upon entering the track area with an average of one track intrusion per million passenger journeys across CoMET/Nova metros. Platform Doors (PD) remove this risk but their cost, complexity of planning and installation, station design and other challenges constrain their wide-spread installation: 70% of CoMET and Nova members have no or low PD coverage. For many metros, PDs come at the expense of other critical infrastructure projects. This case study explored the best practice on managing platform safety risk without the use of PDs.

On average, 65% of track intrusions for respondent metros are intentional customer actions, requiring mitigation measures to instil a behavioural change. Classified as passive prevention measures, these consist of platform announcements and reminders, poster campaigns and platform-edge markings or lighting.

Beyond these, the study identified active detection methods enacted by staff members or detection and response technologies. Combining Smart CCTV, lasers and microwave frequency was successfully piloted as a means to detecting the presence of any person or object on the track. The use of these technologies has proven effective to increase safety in the absence of PDs.

Research: Best Practices in Operating UTO Lines

In 2016, fifteen CoMET and Nova metros have experience in planning or operating automated lines. This study identified good practices in operating fully automated metro lines, known as Unattended Train Operation (UTO) lines. The majority of UTO lines are GoA4 and this trend is projected to continue, with a sharp increase in UTO lines planned for the next 10 years. Given this rapid adoption of UTO, this study was selected by CoMET and Nova members to identify how best to prepare for and eventually operate driverless trains.

The study identified a number of metros good and emerging practices for operating UTO lines from preparation stages to operation. Testing periods for UTO lines, for example, are carried out at three different levels: testing of components, of systems and of whole lines. Following this period, metros may assign on-board staff for fast response to potential service instabilities and passenger assistance. Ultimately for GoA4 lines, incidents are dealt with remotely, managed in practice by the OCCs. This requires a shift in practice from frontline to remote problem-solving. Also, the study determined that whilst UTO lines are generally more reliable, incident management can become a bigger challenge than with conventional lines.

Research: Station Design Guidelines and Passenger Flow Monitoring

The study explored the development process and current state of metro station guidelines, with a focus on vertical circulation, i.e. escalators, elevators, and stairways. The key factors in station design are current and expected passenger volumes, emergency and evacuation targets, accessibility requirements and space constraints. Within stations, platforms are identified as the most critical zone, and vertical circulation is the most critical element. Poorly designed vertical circulation leads to queuing customers and delayed journeys, and elements should be designed to maintain equal passenger flow.

Beyond mitigating localised bottlenecks, total station capacity must also be assessed and this is approached through station planning and operationally-oriented design. The latter requires the capacity to collect and analyse data to inform decisions in real-time. The data includes information on passenger movements within stations and loading patterns on trains. Technological advances have the potential to enable the abundance of data required.

Combining a data-driven understanding of passenger flow information with planning-oriented guidelines will better ensure that sufficient capacity is provided and avoid legacy problems with passenger flow management.

Community of Metros News: Nova Phase 20 Annual Meeting in London

Nova celebrated its 20th birthday at the Phase 20 Annual Meeting, held in London and hosted by the Railway and Transport Strategy Centre (RTSC) at Imperial College London. 22 members of the Community of Metros (17 Nova members and 5 CoMET members) attended the Annual Meeting and Metro Leader Day, held on 8th – 11th May 2018. Representatives from new members at Bay Area Rapid Transit (San Francisco) and the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai were warmly welcomed for their first meeting.

The meeting focused on Phase 20 benchmarking results, including Key Performance Indicators, case studies on Escalator Management and Security on Metros, as well as wider studies from the Community of Metros on Enhancing Platform Safety Without Platform Doors and Using Data to Improve Maintenance. Members presented an update on their metro’s current activities and plans, giving insight into shared challenges and opportunities. The meeting also included the annual Nova Metro Leader Day, focused on strategic-level discussions on topics of interest, such as managing ageing assets and metro automation. The Group also celebrated Nova’s 20th birthday throughout the week.

Nova Phase 20 Chair Joubert Flores (Director at Metro Rio), RTSC Managing Director Richard Anderson and Head of Metro Benchmarking Alex Barron cutting the Nova Phase 20 birthday cake

As well as meeting activities, members visited London Underground facilities across two technical visits. These visits included a guided tour of Tottenham Court Road station, which has undergone significant works in preparation for the opening of the Elizabeth Line, and as part of an area-wide regeneration plan. Members also rode the new Elizabeth Line rolling stock from Liverpool Street to Stratford, where they heard more detail on the development of the line as it prepares to open. Members also visited Transport for London’s operational control centres where the Underground and surface transport networks are monitored and optimised.

New members from the Roads and Transport Authority in Dubai (Mohammed Yousuf al Mudharreb, Director of Rail Operations, and Amair Saleem, Director of Safety, Risk, Regulation and Planning), and Bay Area Transit Authority in San Francisco (Robert Powers, Assistant General Manager) participate at the Nova Phase 20 Annual Meeting

Research: Using Data to Improve Maintenance

Ongoing developments in information technologies, specifically the ability to capture, store, and analyse large datasets, are creating significant opportunities to improve maintenance. The study explored the move towards predictive and data-driven maintenance within CoMET and Nova metros.

There is a clear trend in metros to move toward one asset information system. Integration of systems can bring benefits such as increased efficiency in management and data consistency. It is found that metros are adopting advanced technology (e.g. mobile devices, automatic monitoring systems) to collect data more efficiently. Collection of more detailed maintenance data and use dedicated staff to manage data are also used at the same time to improve data quality.

In order to acquire sufficient data for analysis, metros have initiated various pilot projects adding sensors to monitor asset condition. The study collected the good practices within metros in terms of data collection, analysis and applications, as well as the tangible benefits of data analysis. With the development of auto-monitoring systems and evolution of ‘big data’ analysis, there is a significant opportunity to unlock new understanding about asset performance and lifecycles.

Research: Measuring and Improving Customer Satisfaction

This case study focused on the methods that metros use to measure customer satisfaction as well as the initiatives deployed to improve customer satisfaction. The study also discussed how to identify the right added amenities for metros that go over and above delivering the basic expectations of a metro service.

CoMET and Nova KPI data shows the average satisfaction rate for American Metros has seen significant fluctuations, while the average satisfaction rates for metros in other continents have generally increased more steadily year-on-year.

CoMET and Nova, customer satisfaction trends, from KPI data, split by continent (1999-2016)

Metros mainly measure customer satisfaction via customer satisfaction surveys and/or more innovative measurement techniques (e.g. focus groups interview, mystery shoppers). To increase customer satisfaction, improvements were classified into three categories: those which result in improved data collection resulting in an improved understanding of customers’ needs (such as more frequent data collection or better methods); those which improve basic services, respond to customer expectations and increase overall “performance” (such as increased train frequency or modified cleaning procedures); and those which result in added customer amenities (such as Wi-Fi on trains).

Research: Role of Operation Control Centres (OCCs)

OCCs are central to metro operations, through monitoring the entire system and hosting critical decisions during service interruptions. Several metros report plans to upgrade, expand or integrate aspects of their OCC management to improve the level of service they can deliver. The study detailed the role of OCCs focusing on changes in that role brought about by technological advances.

There is a clear trend towards the centralisation of OCC organisational structures with the belief that a unified OCC will improve the efficiency of coordination and cooperation. One critical function of OCCs is serving as a data management centre. Therefore how often information is updated is key to collecting real-time data for OCC management and communications.

Real-time data management and station remote control technologies are emerging trends and identified areas of improvement. These are often linked with the introduction of greater automation. Increased levels of automation and remote control tend to reduce the routine workload on UTO lines. This means that UTO lines typically require fewer staff in daily operation but more experienced staff to handle incidents.

Research: Cybersecurity

The study defined in broad terms what cybersecurity means to CoMET and Nova metros from an industry perspective. Operational Technology (OT) was prioritised above Information Technology (IT) since the latter is not metro-specific and is more advanced, whereas metro OT systems’ rapid evolution has not been matched by suppliers or regulators.

A metro’s Cybersecurity Risk Profile combines three categories: background threats, connectivity and automation. The study found that high background threats are associated with the most active mitigation measures against cyberattacks, but metros with a high level of connectivity will feature a large risk profile even in a benign political environment. Automation increases the potential impact of cyber-attacks as both physical and non-physical actions may be carried out by a successful hacker.

Ultimately, the study findings concluded that metros, as a key public-facing industry, need to prioritise a cultural shift that places cybersecurity at the forefront of their concerns, similarly to how safety cultures have become established over time.

Research: Driver Training

Training drivers and maintaining their skills and knowledge are significant efforts for almost all metros. Metros need to implement adequate selective recruitment processes to find suitable candidates to become drivers.

The core of initial driver training programmes amongst metros is largely similar, averaging at 100 working days. Programme length depends on a number of factors, including external vs internal recruitment, training facilities, and metros’ expectation towards the role of drivers. The content of training courses used by metros was explored by the study as well.

Duration of Initial Driver Training by Teaching Structure

Apart from the driver initial training, the study also reviewed the frequency of the recurring driver training. By comparing the duration of the driver training to the reliability performance, a correlation was identified between longer training and fewer staff-related incidents causing delays.

Training methods are evolving, as technological advances allow for a greater reliance on simulators to enable drivers to gain experience and confidence in a controlled environment. The developing dependence on mobile devices was identified as an opportunity to integrate more mobile technology into recruitment and training.

Research: Accessibility Training

Providing accessibility is key to enabling users to travel independently, safely and comfortably within metro systems. This case study identified and evaluated metros’ accessibility training, focusing on developing a culture of assistance, training for non-frontline staff, ‘hidden’ (non-physical) disabilities and unstaffed stations.

The accessibility training has evolved over time from ‘creating awareness’ to ‘achieving equality of service’ because of changes in legislation and regulation, public and customer comments, societal awareness, and developments in technological infrastructure, etc.

The study reviewed the accessibility training modules and content. The training courses are predominantly conducted by metros, with some contributions from third parties such as advocacy groups or charities.