Estimating passenger numbers in trains using existing weighing capabilities

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, place - europe, technology - passenger information


passenger numbers, rail, weighting systems, accurate counting systems, Copenhagen


Knowing passenger numbers is important for the planning and operation of urban rail sys- tems. Manual and electronic counting systems (typically infrared or video) are expensive and therefore entail small sample sizes. They usually count boarding and alighting pas- sengers, which means that errors in estimates of total numbers of passengers propagate along train runs. Counting errors in manual and electronic counting systems are typically flow-dependent, making uncertainty a function of volume. This paper presents a new counting technique that exploits the weighing systems installed in most modern trains to control braking. This technique makes passenger counting cheaper and ensures a complete sample. The paper compares numbers estimated by this technique with manual counts and counts from an infrared system in trains in urban Copenhagen. It shows that the weighing system provides more accurate passenger counts than infrared equipment. The method has been validated on a large dataset and is now in full operation in the urban Copenhagen rail system.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor&Francis, copyright remains with them.