In addition to their main function of protecting passengers, which makes them a strategically important system for the operation of automatic metros, platform screen doors (sometimes called platform edge doors) offer an array of benefits to make a transport network efficient and attractive.
- Crédits : © Michael Nebres
The main function of PSDs is to provide an unbreachable physical barrier between the platform and the space in which trains travel. As this results in a closed-off transport system, operational robustness is significantly improved as a knock-on effect.
The major benefit of PSDs is to guarantee the safety of individuals by removing the risk of objects falling or people trespassing onto the track. Consequently, platform screen doors help to considerably reduce the impact of disorderly passenger behaviour that causes most delays on a transport network. For example, PSDs ensure that passengers are not caught in a door before the train departs, and deters any users who may be tempted to prevent the doors from closing.
In addition, passenger changeover tends to be smoother because passengers tend to spread out more evenly along the platform before the train arrives in the station.
For all these reasons, most of the world’s driverless metros are fitted with platform doors that synchronise with the opening and closing of the trains’ doors.
Along with the barrier function created between train and platform, the system also offers other functions that can contribute to offering a better experience to users of the transport network.
PSDs can help provide a more comfortable acoustic environment: the wall reduces the amount of noise made by the train that reaches the platform. If the screens are full height, it may also be possible to effectively heat or cool the passenger waiting zone. Moreover, this screen also insulates the track’s smoke extraction ventilation system from that of the station.
As regards accessibility, trains are easier to board due to a smaller gap between the platform and the train.
As well as improving passenger comfort, PSDs are also the opportunity to obtain more display surface area through which to communicate with passengers. Whether static (a network map, for example) or dynamic (with a screen showing waiting times or the destination of the next train), passenger information can be increased considerably on these surfaces.
Advertising display screens could also be fitted to the PSDs, generating valuable revenue opportunities for the network operator.
Together with the rolling stock, platform screen doors become the first system that is immediately visible to passengers. Consequently, an increasing number of networks have decided to enhance the visual appeal of PSDs to give an identity to the transport network.
Such is the case, for example, with the Grand Paris Express project, for which Egis is responsible for project-managing PSDs. The project owner decided to call on the services of an industrial designer to make its PSDs not only functional but also an iconic embodiment of the new network, thereby providing consistency throughout the network.
Photo: Design proposal for Grand Paris Express platform screen doors
While France first welcomed platform screen doors in 1981 with the creation of the first VAL system (véhicule automatique léger, light automatic vehicle), it is in Asia that the system is the most widespread. In Europe, substantial development potential exists for this system, since the continent’s oldest networks are gradually being converted to fully automatic train control.
Indeed, while platform screen doors are commonplace on new networks with automatic metros, conventional tram and railway networks can also benefit from this system. Thanks to a modular installation system whereby most components are assembled and tested in the factory, transport networks that are already in operation can also be fitted with PSDs as part of a full or part automation of their services.
Since PSDs act as a border between the train and stations, close coordination is required for their implementation: with civil engineering in terms of how they are fixed to the platform, and with automatic train control systems for their synchronisation with train movements.
In conclusion, platform screen doors are an asset for any client wishing to create a transport system in step with the 21st century: safe, efficient and user-friendly.
Head of the Platform screen doors market for lines 16 and 17 of the Grand Paris Express
Platform screen doors engineer