Luggage Conveyor Feasibility
Client: L B Wandsworth, Sep - Oct 2009
Railway stations can be very difficult to move around, not only for the mobility-impaired but also those encumbered with luggage. At key interchange stations such as Clapham Junction, such passengers can also interfere significantly with the overall flow of passengers through the station, contributing to congestion. After seeing luggage conveyors in use in Germany, Wandsworth Council asked the Railway Consultancy to investigate their feasibility.
A survey of three potential locations showed 15% of passengers to have significant luggage, with escalators being readily used where these were available, so there can be a reasonable market for luggage conveyors at relevant stations. However, the recent trend for pull-along luggage (as opposed to carried suitcases) makes the design of any facility less straightforward. Whilst the installation costs of luggage conveyors did not appear insuperable, the practicalities of their introduction in the British context appeared problematic. Many stations have platforms accessed by relatively-narrow stairs, and removal of a 0.7m strip for a conveyor would not leave sufficient room for passengers to pass on the remaining stair width; there may also be too little space for run-off areas at the top and bottom. As a result, a standard implementation of luggage conveyors would appear to fail building design regulations and train operator disability compliance regulations (which also require, for instance, a handrail to be fitted to both sides of stairs.) Ongoing maintenance costs are thought to be similar to those of lifts and escalators but may not be significantly cheaper than some solutions for staff-based assistance, which have other benefits to passengers. As a consequence, Deutsche Bahn is reconsidering their value within the German railway system.
Our conclusions were therefore that the business case for luggage conveyors in the British railway environment is not particularly promising. Many British stations have limited space for their installation, whilst the maintenance costs are non-trivial so that options for staff-based personal assistance may be more cost-effective. However, they could be worth considering in specific circumstances, especially where new rail facilities are being constructed.
Last updated: Sunday, 18th December 2016
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