With passenger numbers increasing, rail is enjoying a boom period, leading to new investment in Crossrail and HS2. In addition, there is also speculation that some of the regional lines ‘axed’ in the ‘Beeching Cuts’ of the 1950s may be reopened.
The modern challenge is a complex one: to manage increased footfall whilst ensuring safe, secure and comfortable passage for all. Carefully specified entrance and exit systems improve passenger flow, working seamlessly with ticketing, parking and retail operations to optimise the movement of people and goods.
Can it cope?
Auditing footfall is critical to ensuring doors are coping with traffic. The main considerations are not simply volume and frequency-related either, passenger demographic and behaviour, at the entrance and inside, must be understood at both peak and quiet times.
Mobility impaired access is a core consideration. Entrances should be designed to international standards, with the needs of less mobile passengers met. Manual door systems, thankfully now uncommon in station entrances, are prohibitive – automation is a real option in almost every case, with modernisation kits being a simple and effective way to upgrade performance and capacity.
Mind the doors, please
Online ticketing has revolutionised the efficiency of railway stations over the past five years. The conventional place for ticketing machines is just past the entrance, keeping ‘online’ users away from manual ticketing desks. Ensuring queues for self-dispensing machines don’t block entrances is vital. Reducing blockages, barriers and breakdowns, through planning and adequate servicing, is the most effective way to ensure passengers reach the platform on time, even in the busiest rush hour.
During planning, the width of opening, placement of doors and choice of activation devices (which trigger automated opening) should be considered in context: proximity to ticketing machines needs planning.
Once upon a time, railway stations were perceived as cold, windswept places, but times have changed. Millennial stations incorporate retail and food concessions as standard. Major refurbishments, for example those at Birmingham New Street, indicate the movement towards modern and inviting. Keeping stations warm in winter and cool in summer may be a challenge, but it is not impossible. Automated entrances play their part in any success.
Doors which are left open unnecessarily haemorrhage expensively conditioned air, so expediting their return to a ‘fully sealed close’ is sensible. Intelligent directional sensors reduce ‘stand open’ time, whilst ensuring trailing cases/bags are safely clear of impact areas before closing.
Sliding door systems are available, in single and bi-parting arrangements, with aluminium frames (various thicknesses) to suit wind/weather conditions. Thermally-broken options improve energy performance at the entrance, thus bringing the goal of warmer stations closer to reality.
Effective automation creates highly functional entrances, which are ideally suited to transport hubs.