Market: Intelligent Transportation
Location: The Netherlands
Technology Partner: Thales Nederland for Dutch Railways NS
Two differing views about passenger safety at stations have dictated station design for the last
150 years or more. For most of the world, it has been assumed that passengers (and other
members of the public) will take care of their own safety when walking on or near a railway.
Station entrances and exits must be designed for the number of passengers passing through
them under both normal and emergency conditions. Specific emergency exit requirements are
outlined in many countries as part of safety legislation or in standards set down by the railways
or other organizations. These codes usually define the exit flows and the types of exits allowed
for passages, stairways, escalators, and other structural features.
In addition to what the codes define, station entrances must be welcoming to prospective passengers.
Stations must also have sufficient entrances to cater to the different sides of the railway
route, but at the same time, take into consideration the cost effectiveness of each entrance.
The cost of staffing ticket offices can be considerable and the number of ticket offices must
be managed to suit the patronage.
Careful consideration must be paid such issues as which way doors open. On the Paris Metro
in 1918, a crowd panicked during an air raid on the city and 66 people were killed in a crush
trying to get into the station for shelter. The obstacle that triggered the crush was a set of doors
that only opened outwards - normally the right direction for safety, but not when the crowd is
trying to rush in! Subsequently, it became Metro policy that all doors had to open both ways.
It was with these safety concerns in mind that Dutch company Thales Hengelo developed the
Gateline Emergency Units (GEU’s) for the Netherlands Railway and others. In the event of a fire
or other emergency, the GEUs will automatically open all the ticket gates to allow passengers
to escape quickly and prevent crushes.