Service innovations for train travellers in Holland

Client: ProRail & Nederlandse Spoorwegen
Designer: STBY
Location: Netherlands

Service Innovation for train travelers by ProRail and Nederlandse Spoorwegen

What was the problem?

With growing peak-time traffic and safety concerns on crowded platforms, many of the major train stations in the Netherlands are in the process of being upgraded. This is not only to improve the experiences for the current travelers, but also to create more capacity on the platform for their growing numbers. However, there is a limit to making platforms bigger: How can we increase the efficiency and capacity of train platforms, without extending them?

Photo: STBY

Photo: STBY

What did they do?

Since 2011, STBY has carried out a series of projects concerned with transportation and railways. Right from the start STBY has worked closely together with strategic the design and communication agency (Edenspiekermann), the clients (ProRail and Nederlandse Spoorwegen) and with train passengers themselves. A first exploratory research project helped to identify a range of problem areas and potential opportunities in the customer journey when travelling by train.

In later projects the focus laid on improving the boarding process on train platforms, especially at the moment when a train arrives and people are trying to board it. This ‘scramble’ moment is especially interesting as it causes problems on both the traveler side and the side of the organization. During this moment namely, travelers are unpleasantly being pushed and pulled and the delays this causes are annoying for the organization. STBY therefore zoomed in on this moment and involved train travelers in both show-&-tell interviews on train platforms, and in a co-creation session to understand and analyze the issues and opportunities in greater detail.

Photo: STBY

Photo: STBY

What was the result?

The results were used by the design partner Edenspiekermann as input to develop a variety of concepts. Eventually, two fully functional prototypes were created: an app and a 200-metre long LED screen above the train platform displaying real-time information about the train arriving. These services give travelers information about where the most available seats are, where first and second class will stop, where the quiet zone will be and where to board with a bike or wheelchair. Additionally, the LED screen also indicates where the train will stop in relation to the platform and where the doors will be.

These prototypes were tested in a live setting on the Zwolle-Roosendaal train line in The Netherlands for a four-month period. During this period, STBY used a mix of quantitative and qualitative research methods to evaluate the use and satisfaction of travelers with the new app and LED display. Over 700 participants shared regular feedback through online questionnaires. Currently, this feedback is being used by NS to investigate a potential further roll-out of the two new services. This case study shows how subsequent smaller projects can build up to systemic transformation within a service system, while also achieving a tangible result.


To find out more about this case study please contact Marie de Vos at STBY.

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