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Pedestrian simulations support major expansion at Amsterdam's railway hub

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Amsterdam Centraal station is the busiest railway hub in The Netherlands. During a major expansion, it needed to plan for an increase in passenger numbers. So PTV Viswalk software was deployed to simulate the expected pedestrian flows.

In 2013, Amsterdam Centraal was about to add many new services: An additional metro line, a new bus terminal, and a high-speed service to Paris. This meant daily passenger numbers would increase from 250,000 to 300,000.

To support this expansion, the Dutch railway infrastructure company ProRail planned to enlarge the eastern passenger tunnel, renovate the main hall, and build two pedestrian underpasses and a parking for 10,000 bicycles. The traffic consultancy advising the project, Vialis, opted for PTV Viswalk to assess how the new facilities would impact pedestrian flows in the station, during and after construction.

“ProRail was searching for a software that accurately predicts the effects of large flows through an historic building with many architectural obstacles”, Henk Barmentlo, a senior traffic engineer at Vialis, explains the choice, “PTV Viswalk is the ideal tool for the simulation of huge crowd movements”.

First, Vialis simulated the current situation at Amsterdam Centraal, by developing a pedestrian model with PTV Viswalk. “The very first simulation run provided excellent results“, says Barmentlo, “ProRail was impressed by the good visualization”. Next, Vialis used PTV Viswalk to create several partial models that assess the impact of route choice, pedestrian ingress/egress flows, and other parameters.

Vialis then used PTV Viswalk in combination with PTV Vissim, the multimodal traffic simulation software. According to Barmentlo, this combination has “unique multimodal capabilities. It perfectly simulates the interaction between pedestrians and vehicles”.

The statistical output also showed outstanding results: The data about service levels in the stairways, pedestrian underpass, and platforms was used to find solutions to mitigate the impact of construction works. “As PTV Viswalk combines both visualization and statistics, users can easily understand what is happening in the model “, says Barmentlo.

Vialis was able to show how operational changes – such as rerouting trains to different platforms – will impact pedestrian flows. Barmentlo says his client, ProRail, was impressed with the results: “That’s exactly what we wanted!“.

The project also benefitted from PTV Viswalk’s ability to simulate pedestrian behavior both when they take the shortest route, and when they choose the quickest one (usually a detour). PTV Viswalk also considers the speed in which pedestrians walk to their destinations, and the distance they keep from each other and from obstacles.

PTV Viswalk continued to support the next phases of construction at Amsterdam Centraal.

“PTV Viswalk is the ideal tool for the simulation of huge crowd movements. It combines visualization and statistics, so users can easily understand what is happening in the model”

Henk Barmentlo
Senior Traffic Engineer, Vialis

The results

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Statistical and visual insight of the impact of station designs

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Models enable planners to better plan construction phase

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Clarity about impact of operational changes on pedestrian flows

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