Planning a New Metro System in the Middle East – Challenges & Solutions Through Crowd Flow Analysis, Forecast and Modelling

Planning a New Metro System in the Middle East – Challenges & Solutions Through Crowd Flow Analysis, Forecast and Modelling


Ronnie Paulus, AECOM, Samya Ghosh, AECOM


This paper demonstrates how crowd modelling has played an integral role in the complex design process of a new metro rail system, for a busy and congested capital city in the Middle East, where the primary mode of travel are personalised cars.


As the world population continues to grow and urban areas expand, the challenges faced when planning new transport services have become more and more complex. With increasing demand, new work/travel trends and the higher expectations of commuters, the traditional approaches to the design and implementation of new public transport services are no longer sufficient to meet the needs of the modern traveller.

New metro systems being designed for modern cities have a number of challenges associated with them: varying travel trends, multiple lines with multiple stations that serve a wide range of different urban areas, different interchanges and the higher expectation of the modern commuter mean that designing these systems has become much more complex. As a result, new approaches are emerging that ensures that the design of new metro systems are safe, robust and meet the long term needs of the public.

The Metro Project to be described in this paper is a perfect example of such a metro system. Consisting of six metro lines, 85 stations and running for a total length of 176km across the capital city of one of the most important and advanced countries in the Middle East, the challenges in designing such a system are significant. In a country where the main form of transport is the private car and there is very little available data on transport trends, it is difficult to predict the impacts that the introduction that such a metro system will have. This paper outlines how the demand for the this metro system was calculated by taking in to account the local constraints, abutting land use development patterns and ultimate carrying capacity of the metro system.

The paper then goes on to demonstrate how this demand was taken forward to develop and assess the designs of prototype stations across the whole route, by four different typologies, namely: at grade, elevated, shallow underground and deep underground stations through the iterative application of crowd modelling. These models demonstrate how the station layouts will operate under the assessed demand, for both normal operation and emergency evacuation scenarios and helps to highlight any areas of the prototype designs that can be improved.

The paper will outline how through the application of crowd modelling, the performance of each station design was evaluated from the points of view of the commuter as well as the rail operator. This modelling methodology was then further improved and refined to test the detailed designs of certain selected stations, to ensure that the design and operation of each station design is safe and future proof for the commuters. A succinct commentary will be provided on how the model input assumptions were refined and calibrated to adhere to a host of recommended guidance and stipulated standards for normal operations and emergency evacuations.

The paper will also explain how the modelling approaches were further refined and made more sophisticated to introduce the special characteristics envisaged at the terminating stations and also for stations with strong interface with Park and Ride facilities in the vicinity of the station The paper will conclude on how the numerous iterations between the station design and crowd modelling disciplines allowed the design team to make informed design changes and incorporate value engineering solutions and helped to develop most efficient station designs.


Association for European Transport