A total of 82 Dutch railway stations are being equipped with ticket barriers to allow passengers to check in and out using their OV-chipkaart, a contactless smart card system for all public transport in the Netherlands. Netherlands Railways (NS) engaged consultancy and project management firm NPC to embed the barriers at all stations. NPC consultants Arjan Hagedoorn and Marian Weltevreden explain why NPC is the right partner for this complex project.
The new ticket barriers will make rail travel more convenient for passengers and will also help to increase public safety. As every station is different, each design is tailor-made and the work requires high quality design expertise, flexibility and knowledge of the railway industry and licensing procedures. NPC understands all operational parameters within which the client works and has ample experience of equipping stations.
Marian explains, “In terms of functionality we’ve addressed everything. A smart choice of places for the barriers means that rail passengers who are changing trains won’t need to check out first then check in again. Beside each row of barriers there will be pillars where passengers can obtain information from a service centre. Cameras will allow service centre staff to view the situation together with the passenger. All barriers will open automatically in an emergency.”
The installation of the ticket barriers is a complex project because the station areas are used intensively by transport operators, retailers and suppliers. There also needs to be space to sell tickets and provide information to passengers. NS Stations is the organisation responsible for shops and managed services in its role as the station operator, ProRail monitors transfer capacity and safety, the transport operators own the service-providing equipment and the municipality is responsible in conjunction with passengers once outside the station. Marian continues; “We also have to make allowance for the parties that provide travel information, surveillance systems and ticket vending machines. A good design has to ,mbrace all of these parameters. Every final design goes to a steering committee and we don’t submit license applications to the municipality or ProRail until we have the committee’s approval. After we receive the licenses, we take care of all the architectural and civil engineering work.”
Asked why the ticket barriers were not installed when the OV-chipkaart was introduced some years ago, Arjan explains, “Even before introduction of the OVchipkaart, 26 stations had been equipped with ticket barriers. A decision was taken at that time to await the rollout of the card to other stations so as to learn from experience gained in this initial pilot. The central design considerations are passenger safety, ease-of-use and retention of existing passenger throughput. We are also looking for solutions that take into account the architecture, shops and functions. In mid-2010 we began updating the statement of requirements and the designs for the other 56 stations. NPC is going to get this formidable job done. We are on schedule to equip the remaining stations with efficient, embedded ticket barrier systems in the coming years.”