No matter how striking a train station is, it’s not doing its job if it doesn’t have safety at the core.
In my last post, I talked about the impact that a well-designed train station can have on a community. However, in reality, before a single word about style or aesthetics is uttered, train station designers have to think about safety . . . for commuters, for employees, for anyone who steps foot in the station.
Since the harried commuter often isn’t thinking about safety, architects must make it a priority. That means being aware of everything from how passengers flow through the station and access the platform to the views that employees have.
Following are a few safety essentials to keep in mind:
Keep Track of Tracks
Ideally, station exit doors do not face the tracks. At first, that seems illogical. It’s not efficient . . . right? That may be. However, by forcing commuters to turn to face the tracks, the design eliminates the possibility of a person stumbling onto the tracks as he or she steps out.
For instance, there was a tight site for a new station in Bartlett, Illinois. We designed a slender station with a north façade that comes close to the tracks. So it was critical to create exits on the sides of the station.
Views In, Views Out
Another important train station safety design consideration is views in and out of the facility. People need to see where they’re going.
First, think about the difference between approaching a solid wall versus a glass wall. The former shows bricks . . . not very inviting. The glass, however, displays people and activity, perhaps a coffee bar and views through to the tracks. People should be able to see into the station as they approach it from the outside. It not only feels safer, but it also entices them to come in.
Similarly, when those within the station have clear views outside, they feel more connected to their surroundings. The central waiting area should give occupants views to the platform and, if possible, to the drop-off/pick-up drive. With clear views into and out of the facility, there’s the bonus that those within the station have the psychological reassurance that they can be seen from the outside.
A renewal of a station in Galesburg, Illinois offers a good example. Before the project, views were severely limited. New and renovated waiting rooms brought panoramic views to the platform, plus improved views into the facility.
The Art of Safety
The tips above are just two of the most important safety considerations train station designers have to take into account. There are many more to think about. For instance, interior floor and exterior platform surfaces have to be durable and slip-resistant to accommodate high foot traffic and fluctuating weather conditions. Also, the placement of the ticket station should allow the agent to monitor platform activity.
No matter what a station does aesthetically, it’s all for naught unless it’s safe.
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