Comparative analysis of escalator capacity at metro stations: theory versus practice

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - subway/metro, place - asia, place - urban, operations - capacity, infrastructure - station


Escalator, Capacity, Walking speed, Step occupancy, Walking factor, Reference capacity


The studies on escalators have mainly reported the walking speeds of passengers or their passenger handling capacity. Theoretical capacity is reported as a constant value for a given escalator speed, but is never achieved in the field. This creates practitioners’ dilemma regarding augmentation of the facility as some capacity will always remain available even under high passenger flows. This paper explores the issue and proposes a reference capacity for examining the effective utilisation of the escalator. The capacity is estimated with stand-only and stand-walk etiquette. The data available in the literature and from the video graphed information at metro stations in Delhi, India is used to examine the effect of step occupancy, walking speed of passengers and their proportion in the flow. It is observed that walking-factor and step occupancy is higher in developing countries. Walking factor is estimated as 0.70–0.74 and step occupancy as 0.80–1.70. The occupancy on walking side is estimated as one passenger per two steps as compared to the reported value of one per three steps. This indicates that the flow conditions on escalators in India are more restrictive as compared to other countries. The comparison of field capacity with reference capacity has indicated that the reference capacity can be used for the evaluation of actual flow condition on escalators.


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