Forecasting passenger congestion in rail networks

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

ridership - commuting, ridership - forecasting, ridership - forecasting, policy - congestion, mode - rail


Just as traffic congestion constrains the efficient movement of people and goods on the road system, passenger congestion on the rail network affects the on-time running of trains and operation of stations. In Melbourne, population growth, fare policy changes and fuel price instability have contributed to unprecedented growth in public transport patronage in recent years, leading to significant crowding issues in parts of the rail network. This paper describes a new approach to the forecasting of passenger congestion on rail networks using simulation to predict crowding on trains and in stations. The simulation technique models the choices of individual passengers as they select their departure time, train service, interchange points and walking paths through stations. The position of each passenger is then mapped in time and space to determine when and where crowding may occur. The model has been successfully applied in Melbourne to test changes to the train timetable and to estimate when congestion mitigation measures may be required in central city stations. It is hoped that this approach will help planners make better use of existing infrastructure before costly capital works are required.