Analyzing the Effect of Crowds on Passenger Behavior Inside Urban Trains through Laboratory Experiments—A Pilot Study

Sebastian Seriani*, Jose Miguel Barriga, Alvaro Peña, Alejandra Valencia, Vicente Aprigliano, Lorena Jorquera, Hernan Pinto, Matías Valenzuela, Taku Fujiyama

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The objective is to study the distribution of passengers inside urban trains for different levels of crowding. The study is carried out through the observation of videos made by laboratory experiments in which a mock-up of a carriage represented the boarding and alighting process. The Fruin’s Level of Service (LOS) was adopted, but with a different approach, in which the train is divided into five zones (central hall, central aisle, side aisle, central seats and side seats). The experiments are based on the behavior of passengers in the London Underground; however, this study could be expanded to any conventional rail or LRT system. For the laboratory experiments, it is proposed to build a metro carriage and a corresponding platform section, and the scenarios will include different levels of crowding of passengers boarding and alighting to produce a variation in the density on the platform. According to the crowding level, the results allow obtaining the distribution and movements generated by passengers in the five zones for different instants of time during the process of boarding and alighting. It is observed that passengers are distributed according to safety and efficiency conditions. For example, passengers tried to avoid contact with each other unless it is inevitable. In relation to comfort, the seats of the carriage are always used even if there is a low level of crowding. If the crowding level increases, the boarding and alighting time go up. In addition, passengers will spend one or two seconds more if the “let’s get off before getting on the carriage” behavior is breached. This kind of experiment can be used in further research as a way to test “what-if” scenarios using this new method of discretization of the space inside the train, which cannot be tested in existing stations due to restrictions such as the weather, variability of the train frequency, current design of the trains, among others. New experiments are necessary for future research to include other types of passengers such as people with disabilities or reduced mobility.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14882
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes

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  • behavior
  • boarding and alighting time
  • crowding
  • distribution
  • passenger
  • train


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