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Rail E-ssentials

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Efficient analysis of passenger flows

SIGNON Deutschland GmbH, a subsidiary of TÜV SÜD, is currently developing a new software known as EPPsta for evaluating and projecting public transport passenger volumes. Aimed at local public transport authorities and transport companies, the software provides a valuable foundation for planning of timetables, operative capacities as well as revenue assignment among the various companies within a transport association. 

RIMcomb: Railway Information Modeling for rail infrastructure equipmentCalculating passenger volumes on the basis of statistically verified data is crucial for local public transport companies, associations and authorities. This information provides an essential basis for planning capacity requirements of timetables and vehicle deployment. In addition, the data is used for assigning revenue streams to the various companies within a transport association. TÜV SÜD’s subsidiary SIGNON Deutschland GmbH is currently developing new software for evaluating and projecting these passenger flows. Known as EPPsta (Evaluation and Passenger Projection and STAtistics), the program will be available from December 2017.

The core of passenger flow analysis involves determining the number of passengers boarding and alighting at the stops and stations along the public transport routes. These passenger flows are measured using sensors fitted to the doors of the vehicles and transmitted to the software for further processing. For cost reasons, the measurement sensors are usually only installed in part of a vehicle fleet, so that automatic recording of passenger flow data is limited to routes driven by vehicles equipped with these sensors.

The data is used as a basis for complex statistical extrapolations to arrive at projections of total passenger volumes for these routes. To ensure these results provide useful information for customers, the number of measurement runs (by vehicles fitted with sensors) on the routes under consideration must be adequate, and the journeys must also fit various time-based criteria. For example, passenger figures for a Monday morning will differ from those for a Sunday morning, and school holidays present a different picture from school time. Major events such as football matches or concerts also involve different passenger volumes, which must likewise be taken into consideration. In addition to these time-of-day parameters, taken individually or combined, further statistical parameters such as confidence intervals and the accuracy of measurement data must be taken into account.

Only if these factors have been appropriately incorporated into evaluations and extrapolations, correctly calculated values can be taken as the basis for optimising planning of scheduling frequency and vehicle deployment capacity. Accurate, reliable and traceable results are key to assigning revenue streams among the companies within a transport association.

Given the critical nature of its function, software for passenger flow analysis must therefore fulfil extremely stringent requirements. The objective is to develop a highly reliable solution that builds trust with customers, but also to design software that is intuitive to operate and delivers high performance.

Development of software like this is highly complex, and requires expertise in big data and front-end technologies as well as in-depth knowledge of the public transport industry. SIGNON is outstandingly qualified in both areas, with teams of experienced software engineers accompanied by the inventors of EPPsta’s predecessor, “planfahrt”. These specialists can point to around 20 years of experience in passenger flow analysis. Their professional experience, the close-knit relationships with public transport authorities and companies, and the high motivation of the SIGNON team combine to provide the ideal basis for the success of EPPsta – a product which will help to drive progress in public transport in the years to come.

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