Modeling the factors that influence exposure to SARS-CoV-2 on a subway train carriage

Indoor Air. 2022 Feb;32(2):e12976. doi: 10.1111/ina.12976. Epub 2022 Feb 8.


We propose the Transmission of Virus in Carriages (TVC) model, a computational model which simulates the potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2 for passengers traveling in a subway rail system train. This model considers exposure through three different routes: fomites via contact with contaminated surfaces; close-range exposure, which accounts for aerosol and droplet transmission within 2 m of the infectious source; and airborne exposure via small aerosols which does not rely on being within 2 m distance from the infectious source. Simulations are based on typical subway parameters and the aim of the study is to consider the relative effect of environmental and behavioral factors including prevalence of the virus in the population, number of people traveling, ventilation rate, and mask wearing as well as the effect of model assumptions such as emission rates. Results simulate generally low exposures in most of the scenarios considered, especially under low virus prevalence. Social distancing through reduced loading and high mask-wearing adherence is predicted to have a noticeable effect on reducing exposure through all routes. The highest predicted doses happen through close-range exposure, while the fomite route cannot be neglected; exposure through both routes relies on infrequent events involving relatively few individuals. Simulated exposure through the airborne route is more homogeneous across passengers, but is generally lower due to the typically short duration of the trips, mask wearing, and the high ventilation rate within the carriage. The infection risk resulting from exposure is challenging to estimate as it will be influenced by factors such as virus variant and vaccination rates.

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2 modeling; airborne; close-range; fomite; subway; subway train carriage.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Air Microbiology
  • Air Pollution, Indoor*
  • COVID-19* / transmission
  • Fomites / virology
  • Humans
  • Railroads*
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Aerosols