Final Report: Executive Summary
Contract DTFR 53-91-C-00075
Federal Railroad Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation
Report No. DOT/FRA/NMI-92/94; 277 pp., June, 1994

by Professor Emeritus J.B. Schneider

Department of Civil Engineering (Box 352700)
University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195

Copies of the full report are available from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS)  Printed copy, Microfiche and CD-ROM versions are available  (as of April, 2009). The Table of Contents is available on-line at this website.


Chapter 1: Introduction

The need to reestablish a focus on the station component of a high speed ground system is defined in terms of the two main objectives of this study initially. Its focus is on the issues surrounding the location and design of stations for a high speed ground transportation system for the U.S. It is postulated that the construction of a 2000+ mile high speed ground transportation system may be authorized in the U.S. by the year 2000. If this happens [it has not as of 2007], the station component of such a system would include some 40-100 stations. Some would be updated existing stations, others would be new stations.

Chapter 2: Station Planning and Design Background

Previous work on urban rail station location and design concepts, processes and methods is reviewed in this chapter. Substantial research on transit station design issues was done during the 1976-81 period and it is reviewed and assessed initially. A large scale simulation model, the Urban Station Simulator (USS) was also developed during this period with support from the Urban Mass Transportation Administration. USS is no longer operational or available but its concepts have been used along with an advanced computer technology in a doctoral dissertation research project. Two other computer-aided design tools also have been developed to assist the station design process. One is called INTERMODE and the other is called PEDROUTE. Both are now commercially available.

Current transit agency station design practices are reviewed and some examples of a modular approach to station design developed for Seattle METRO are presented. Other literature reviewed includes airport terminal station design methods and techniques, computer -based methods for estimating station parking needs and parking facility design alternatives and recent research results regarding the development and financing of joint development projects adjacent to transit stations in the U.S.

Chapter 3: Impact of Stations on the System

The importance of system access to the competitive status of a high speed ground transportation system is defined in this chapter. Trade-offs regarding system speed, station spacing and capital costs are examined as being essential to the determination of the optimal number of stations for a high speed system. Two general types of locations are identified and investigated: central city and outlying. Comparisons between these two types of locations are made along several dimensions including the difficulty of penetrating urban areas to reach their historic downtown areas, the potential utility of suburban hubs as metropolitan gateways, recent changes in the origin/destination patterns of intercity travelers that will affect market area definitions and remote terminal concepts that offer a compromise between central and outlying locations. Particular attention is given to the need to provide a high level of intermodal connectivity between the new high speed system and the existing ground transportation system so that the speed and convenience of transfers between the two systems can be as high as possible.

Chapter 4: Impact of System Technology on Stations

In this chapter the impact of system technology on the location, design and intermodal connectivity of stations is examined. The two high speed technologies considered are the conventional steel-wheel-on-steel-rail (e.g. the French TGV) and a small magplane (maglev vehicle). Five criteria are used to evaluate, comparatively, the station location, design and intermodal connectivity requirements of these two technologies. They include: accessibility requirements and provisions for connecting modes, joint development opportunities, urban form and growth control considerations, competitive position, environmental impacts, system cost requirements and community acceptance problems. Urban development and other macro-scale implications as well as specific station location and design issues are identified and discussed. A major trade-off between magplane switching speed and station cost is identified and discussed. Some physical configuration issues are explored and conceptual station designs presented for stub and enroute station locations. For either technology to be maximally competitive, the provision of a sufficient number of properly located stations offers the possibility of providing travel times that are much more competitive with air travel by making sharp reductions in its ground access and airport terminal and taxiway wait times.

It is suggested that any national high speed ground transportation system should be carefully integrated into the existing ground transportation system in order to be as competitive and effective as possible. The problems and opportunities for achieving such an integration are explored in this chapter. Methods and techniques for remodeling central city stations for high speed service are already well-developed and are not repeated here. Instead, attention is given to various ways of developing intermodal ground transportation hubs in suburban locations. These hubs would include high speed system facilities and provide a high degree of connectivity to other ground and air modes. They would be "metropolitan gateways" for intercity travelers in the same sense that major airports serve as gateways to our large urban areas.

Chapter 5: Siting Criteria for High Speed Stations

In this chapter, station locations in central cities, suburbs, fringe and rural areas and airport complexes are examined. The advantages and disadvantages of each type of location are evaluated in general terms and then 67 specific evaluation criteria, organized in 11 categories are defined and discussed. These categories cover such concerns as revisions to existing services, impact on current railroad operations, proximity to major facilities and destinations, provisions for connecting modes, tax base enhancement potential and several others. This evaluation framework is designed to assist the identification and selection of station sites in corridor studies where alternative routes are being investigated. It is based on the concept that some high speed stations should be multimodal hubs that provide facilities for a a variety of connecting ground and air modes.

Chapter 6: Linking High Speed Stations with their Surroundings in Metropolitan Areas

In this chapter a more detailed examination is made of the problems and opportunities presented by the need to integrate high speed stations into the existing ground transportation system in a metropolitan area. The focus is on the probable need to remodel some existing stations to accommodate the new high speed service while connecting it well to the existing system. It is assumed that some suburban activity centers (e.g.,Tysons Corner in Northern Virginia, the Denver Technology Center, the Buckhead area in Atlanta) will be logical and desirable locations for high speed gateway-type stations. The general characteristics of these "edge cities" are reviewed and illustrative examples of ways a high speed station could be connected to an existing rail transit system in a metropolitan area are presented.

Various suburban intermodal hub development concepts are presented that describe some of the possible ways that large existing suburban transit stations could be evolved into suburban ground transportation hubs. The physical and operational characteristics of several large "best practice" suburban transit stations are reviewed to help investigate the feasibility of this concept. These case studies include five transit stations in Vancouver, B.C., Portland, Oregon, the San Francisco Bay area and San Jose, California.. Other issues that have physical and operational design implications such as high speed system ownership, time-of-day patterns, baggage handling facility needs, high speed cargo facilities, express connecting modes and safety and security problems are also discussed.

Chapter 7: Linking High Speed Stations with their Immediate Surroundings

It is especially important that the accessibility to the high speed station be as easy and convenient as possible. In many cases, it may not be possible to provide large-scale auto parking facilities immediately adjacent to the stations. In such cases, other non-auto means of getting to/from the station must be provided. Bus and van service may be sufficient and cost-effective in some cases. In other locations, the use of an automated peoplemover technology might be necessary. The economics of providing a high level of access will determine which approach is likely to be most beneficial to the system's competitive position. The design of specialized bus/van services presents few problems but much less is known about the design of automated peoplemover (APM) circulator systems. Emphasis is given to this latter need by examining five existing APM circulator systems that are currently in operation around the world ( Miami , Las Colinas , Detroit , Merry Hill and Sydney).

All are found to be very expensive, slow, visually intrusive and providing considerable excess capacity. The APM technology review continues with the aim of identifying a more suitable technology by using four screening criteria: low cost, low visual intrusion, adequate capacity and adequate speed. Four cable-drawn technologies are examined first and none are found to be especially suitable. Existing monorail and personal rapid transit (PRT) systems are reviewed next and one monorail technology is found to match the evaluation criteria reasonably closely. Other technologies are currently under development that show much promise and some are believed to be likely to be available for deployment during the next several years. Given that a U.S. high speed system will take several years to develop, some of these emerging peoplemover technologies may be available for use as circulator systems when needed in downtowns or suburban activity centers in the late 1990's or beyond 2000.

Chapter 8: Review of Existing High Speed Stations

In this chapter, the results of a field trip to France that was designed to examine several French TGV stations are presented. TGV stations in four cities (Lille, Nantes, Paris and Lyon) were visited and interviews held with several French officials. Special attention was given to the joint development activities at the stations that have been strongly encouraged by the French. Their general physical layout and intermodal connection facilities were also closely examined. Some of these stations have been in operation for several years, others are still being constructed. The most interesting stations are just now nearing completion. One of these will open in July, 1994, at the Satolas International Airport near Lyon. Others are being constructed at Eurodisney, Roissy-Charles de Gaulle International Airport and in Lille. All of these stations are expected to be open by mid-1994. All have been designed to allow the passage of through trains at high speed and all provide very long platforms for 20-car TGV trains. All provide excellent facilities for connecting modes that will make intermodal transfers quite seamless. Both the RCDG and Lille stations will include considerable joint development that is highly integrated with the station. The new TGV station being built in Lille is especially outstanding in this regard.

If the U.S. opts for a steel-wheel-on-steel-rail technology like the French TGV, this station design experience will be especially relevant to U.S. station planners and the experience gained when the new stations open should be monitored closely. If a small vehicle maglev option is selected, the physical layout of the magstations will be quite different from those developed in France. But, many of the same design principles used by the French will still be applicable.

Chapter 9: Prototype Station Designs

Some basic station design concepts and principles are presented initially in this chapter. Then, some recent design work done for the stations that would be part of the proposed Orlando Maglev Demonstration Project are briefly reviewed. Next, two prototype designs for intermodal stations that were developed in this study are presented. One is a station that could be used by either a steel-wheel or a maglev system that is located adjacent to a hypothetical suburban activity center. Facilities are provided for connecting commuter rail, intercity bus, local bus, auto drive-through, auto parking and bicycle modes. The station is also connected to the surrounding area with an automated peoplemover that provides station access for those who cannot or do not wish to use an auto or bus. A vertiport has also been integrated in this station design that would provide easy connections to the several ground modes present at this station. Facilities for handling the baggage from both the vertiport and the high speed system platforms are also provided in this design. It is large and would be costly to build and maintain but does represent an "ideal" facility from a passenger's point-of-view.

A second prototype design has been developed to illustrate the station needs of a small magplane system . It has been located near an international airport to illustrate some of the problems and opportunities that are likely to be associated with such a site. It provides two turntables for small magplanes because some of the U.S magplanes under study cannot reverse direction easily or at all. This station is essentially a stub station although a continuation magway is provided. Through high speed magplane traffic could not occur at this station without some significant design modifications.

Facilities for several connecting modes have been provided so that transfers between them would be as seamless as possible. Very large elevators have been used so that magplanes could be loaded/unloaded easily and quickly. This is especially important for a maglev system that would provide service very frequently (e.g. minimum headways of approximately 120 seconds). An automated peoplemover technology has been used to provide access to the nearby airport terminal, vertiport and other destinations around the airport. Space for containerized cargo and truck loading has been provided as have baggage handling facilities for the maglev system. Floor plans for all three levels are shown to provide illustrations of how the functional spaces have been arranged. Two cross-sections are used to complete the description of the physical layout of this station. This design is more compact than the previous design and could fit into a much smaller site.

Chapter 10: Conclusions

Emphasis has been given to the argument that the ability of a HSGTS to compete with other modes of intercity travel will depend to a large extent on the overall travel times that it can offer. These travel times will be strongly influenced by the number and location of the stations that are provided. Access times to/from the stations are important components of the overall trip time. Stations must be sited in close proximity to the likely starting and ending locations of the persons likely to be making the intercity trips. Locations in central cities can be regarded as "'givens" in most cases. Finding locations in suburban and more remote areas is a much more challenging task. The development of suburban "gateway" multimodal hubs is an idea that deserves careful attention in this regard.

Integrating the new HSGTS facilities with the existing ground transportation system , making seamless transfers to connecting modes possible, is a very desirable societal objective. It can be accomplished only with considerable effort. Development of station areas through public/private cooperative efforts can assist the achievement of this objective. It seems likely that new mixes of public and private involvement in the design, ownership and operation of the high speed system, especially its stations, will be needed. The degree to which the public will accept this approach is largely unknown and should be checked out early in the early stages of the planning process.

Topics in need of further study include additional market research studies focused on the analysis of the origin/destination patterns of intercity travelers, further examination of the idea of converting existing rail stations in suburban areas into multimodal hubs with high levels of connecting services and continued monitoring of the French experience with their newest TGV stations, especially the Euralille station in Lille. The capital cost savings that might be achieved by not trying to penetrate the core of the metropolitan area should be examined further as should the possibility of providing a high level of connecting service between a downtown location and a suburban gateway station. A key question is: Can intercity travel times and costs (portal-to-portal) that involve a transfer at a suburban hub be competitive with alternative modes, namely auto and air travel? Another is: What type of transfer penalty should be assigned to the various types of transfers at a suburban hub when calculating such time and cost measures?

Wherever they are located, it is important that the stations provide for seamless transfers to several connecting modes. There are many factors to consider in designing and operating the connecting services. It is particularly important to provide the special physical facilities necessary for them to function effectively. It is also important to analyze time-of-day variations in passenger flow volumes and the likely characteristics of intermodal baggage transfer volumes and time-space requirements. Procedures that will permit through-ticketing and through-checking of baggage at remote terminals should also be developed and made operational.

Circulator systems in suburban activity centers can also provide good connecting service to/from HSGTS stations. In those cases where roadway capacity is sufficient (or can be constructed), enhanced bus/van services may be sufficient. In large and spatially dispersed suburban activity centers that have significant levels of roadway congestion (and most do), automated peoplemover (APM) systems may prove to be economic and necessary. To see some illustrations of 60 possibilities, four Photo Index pages are available.   APMs also have the potential to add value to the land in the suburban activity center and to allow higher densities to be achieved than are possible by reliance only on a roadway system. Implementation of growth management strategies that call for limiting urban sprawl by concentrating development in existing centers can be assisted by APM circulator systems, supplementing their role as a high quality feeder system to a HSGTS station. Our survey of existing APM technologies has found that there are a few systems with the desired characteristics that are available today. But, more technologies currently under development that have suitable characteristics should be available in the near future.

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Last modified: April 23, 2009