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If the majority of road users or transported goods move or are moved in a common direction within a certain period of time, this direction is referred to as the peak direction.



Many commuters drive or walk from the residential areas to the workplaces in the morning and back again in the afternoon. The load direction is thus from the residential areas to the workplaces in the morning and from the workplaces to the residential areas in the afternoon.

Leisure traffic

In leisure traffic, traffic flows are diffuse and vary greatly depending on the respective target group, the leisure activity and the chosen means of transport. Therefore, a load direction in leisure traffic can only be observed during large individual events, such as football matches or concerts.


Depending on the mining areas of raw materials, production sites and the locations of customers, there are strong load directions, especially in freight traffic, as was the case in the past with the Saxon Windberg railway, for example. For example, the night jump procedure for seaport hinterland traffic means that a particularly large number of freight trains depart from ports (such as the port of Hamburg) inland in the first half of the night and arrive at the ports from inland in the second half of the night.


Superposition of load directions

Different load directions can overlap, i.e. both reinforce and compensate each other.[1]

Road traffic

In road traffic, the load direction affects both the use of traffic routes and stationary traffic:

  • The roads are particularly heavily used in the respective load direction.[2]
  • Parking space is subject to particularly high demand upstream of the load direction at traffic sources and downstream of the load direction at traffic destinations.[3]

Local public transport

In public transport, the direction of the load affects the timetable and the fleet of vehicles used:

  • In the direction of the load, the timetable offer is increased, e.g. S2-Ost from Erding to Munich.[4]
  • On lines with a strong load direction, vehicles with a larger capacity are used during rush hours.

Traffic routes

If the direction of the load is particularly pronounced, additional traffic routes are created that are (or can be) used during the peak hour in the respective direction of the load. Three examples:

  • Manual for dynamic lane clearance on US highways depending on load direction[5]
  • Sierichstraße in Hamburg is a one-way street on which the direction of travel is changed depending on the time of day. This two-lane city road is always opened in the direction of the load; the changes take place at 04:00 in the morning and at 12:00 at noon.[6]
  • New York City subway: lines 4, 5, 6, 7, D, J/Z with express trains on additional third track in center position in each direction of load[7][8]

See also

  • Traffic times
  • Local public transport
  • Road traffic


Individual references

  1. Typing of traffic volume hydrographs and their suitability for travel demand modeling(PDF; 2.1 MB) Lutz Pinkofsky / TU Braunschweig. archived on Original 27 September 2015. retrieved 19 November 2011.
  2. Modeling the timing behavior of passenger traffic (Chapter 3.2.1 Route search and traffic assignment, p. 36f)(PDF; 2.2 MB) Christoph Hecht / Uni Stuttgart. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  3. Parking organisation in the city centre of BrühlCity of Brühl. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  4. 999.2 Erding – Munich – Dachau – Petershausen / Altomünster S2.(PDF; 712 KB) In: Kursbuch derDeutschen Bahn 2021. DB Vertrieb GmbH, 25 November 2020, retrieved 2 March 2021.
  5. Freeway Management and Operations Handbook (Chapter 8. Managed Lanes)U.S. Federal Highway Administration. retrieved November 19, 2011.
  6. “Hamburg Web: Sierichstraße.”Archived fromOriginal4February 2012; retrieved 15 January 2012.
  7. New York City subway line table (June 2010). Mass Transit Authority (MTA) of New York City. archived on Original october 27, 2011. retrieved November 19, 2011.
  8. Queens 1 (New York City subway track plan). Retrieved November 19, 2011.