Virtual train to ease commuter pain
Anybody who catches a metropolitan train in peak hour knows that the jostling of elbows, dirty l ugg boots clearance ooks and enforced physical intimacy with complete strangers is one of the less pleasant aspects of city living, a challenge for commuters and public transport operators alike.
At the heart of the issue is carriage design. The same carriages that comfortably seat travellers at off peak times must also squeeze i ugg boots clearance n the rush hour crush, when each seat with its luxurious room for bottoms, knees and bags takes the space of two or three standing passengers.
“Melbourne is a rapidly growing city and we are continually accommodating larger numbers on our transport network. We’ve altered seating arrangements on some of our fleet to accommodate more people during peaks and we actively try to reduce dwell times at our stations to keep trains moving as quickly as possible,” a Metro spokesperson says.
But seat removal can compromise comfort during off peak hours. It is a paradox that requires a design solution, and one is being developed by industrial designer Selby Coxon, deputy head of the Department of Design at Monash University in Melbourne just one city among many cities in which rail efficiency is a public gripe.
Mr Coxon has designed an entirely new train carriage that can automatically adjust to peak and off peak loads. His answer, developed as part of a PhD project, is “peak doors” two extra doors that would operate during peak hour only, with folding seats behind them that would automatically lock away to create standing room.
“They’re very visually different to the other doors, so that people in off peak periods will realise that these are non functioning and will find their way to the three operating doors,” Mr Coxon says. His carriage design creates extra space when needed and also seeks to improve boarding and alighting times, which generally have to be no longer than 20 seconds if timetables are to be met.
“In peak time, if that boarding time extends, the next train also has to wait. And that backlog is part of the reason trains sometimes get stuck between stations,” Mr Coxon says.
Another cause of inefficiency at stations is that people will often stand at a doorway, blocking the area, out of fear of being pushed further down the carriage and not being able to get off at their stop. Mr Coxon’s design regulates people movement into a two way flow. Signage and colour coding would encourage people to keep to their left when boarding or alighting. A central column holding the locked away seats behind the peak period doors would act as a “crowd splitter”, a common device in crowd management.
Dr Majid Sarvi, a crowd specialist from Monash University’s Department of Civil Engineering, has contributed his expertise in station design and crowd behaviour and dispersal. His extensive work with mathematical modelling of crowd movements has been incorporated into a computer program developed by researchers from the Faculty of Information Technology.
The program, which uses a game engine, has up to 200 virtual humans whose task is to board the train carriage and find a seat. Those who miss out then compete for the best standing position.
Hundreds of virtual humans inside a computer program are the avatar stars of a design project aiming to improve passenger rail services through a modifiable train carriages.
Dev ugg boots clearance eloper Elliott Wilson, who teaches in the faculty, says the number of people who are already seated in the carriage can be adjusted, along with the numbers boarding and alighting.
“We’re testing the parameters of the carriage with elements everyone can recognise people and train spaces and shuffling for seats,” says Mr Wilson, who is in an IT project team led by animator Dr Tom Chandler.
Some randomness has also been built into the program, including where people appear on the platform and how long each individual spends looking for a seat. This means that the boarding pattern and duration will differ each time the test is run as in real life.
And while the actual train carriage is still theoretical, Mr Coxon feels his peak doors could herald a new d ugg boots clearance irection in train design one that responds to the growing demands on public transport while still offering some respite for the travel weary commuter.