On an average working day, NS takes 1.2 million passengers to their destinations. And that number is higher every year. In order to keep the Netherlands properly accessible for everyone in the future too, NS is always thinking ahead about how journeys can be made better and more pleasant. NS cannot innovate alone and does not want to.
That is why the carrier has bundled forces with the architectural agency Mecanoo and the project designer Gispen to tackle the challenge of finding room for more people in tomorrow's train journeys while at the same time improving the journey experience.
Both increased capacity and a pleasant trip in which the passengers see the journey time as their own time: time for relaxing, working, studying or meeting each other. You can already get a taste of this new vision of travelling in the future today at the Innovation Expo in Rotterdam.
During Dutch Design Week, from 20 to 28 October 2018 in Eindhoven, everyone will be able to experience the design for themselves at Ketelhuisplein. The visitors will be asked to give feedback in a variety of ways, and their input will, in turn, be included in the further development of the concept.
“What innovation means for NS is that we ask partners who are leaders in their fields to take a fresh look at our customers’ everyday train journeys and at what the best layout for the train is. How can we create more room at peak times and how can we enhance the comfort and the overall experience during the rest of the day? I find the results of our cooperation highly inspirational. The train of the future will let you get more out of your day, for example, because you are able to work undisturbed. It will turn journey time into working time. Or time for reading, chatting or chilling out. The train makes it all possible – it’s the passengers who decide.” - Tjalling Smit, NS Executive Board member.
Journey time is your own time
The new train interior is based entirely on passengers’ wishes. Together with Mecanoo and Gispen, NS examined what train passengers need. The passengers listed six categories of activities that they would like to do on the train. Those include activities that require concentration such as working and studying, or relaxing activities such as reading, watching a film or playing a game. In addition, there is also a group of passengers who want social activities such as phoning, enjoying travelling together and chatting. Based on those three clusters of passenger requirements, twelve flexible interior modules have been designed.
Arne Lijbers, associate architect at Mecanoo: “The train of the future will be a dynamic, open environment that permits all kinds of passenger activities. The train isn’t just a tube that you travel in from point A to point B. It’s a comfortable place to spend time where you feel at home and where a variety of activities that passengers want to do are possible.”
The design principle was to approach the train in the same way as the interior of the building: not as a shell filled with seats but as an overall concept. Applying a modular grid allows every centimetre to be used and the modules fit into the trains like building blocks. Sarah Schiffer, Product and Concept Manager at Gispen, explains: “The modules are suitable for any type of train and can be combined in a single train set so that every passenger gets more room at peak times and can find a suitable place outside peak hours. Designing them in a modular and ‘circular’ way – recyclable – means this concept is timeless and can be used universally.
“Developing circular-economy products lets us extend lifespans and avoid waste. In trains, in particular, it’s extremely important to allow materials to live again by being reused.” - Rick Veenendaal, Circular Economy Manager at Gispen.
Designing and fitting out public spaces such as museums, libraries, schools and offices is everyday business for both Gispen and Mecanoo. The experience of both Gispen and Mecanoo and NS has been brought together in this innovative training concept that makes travelling by train an entirely new experience.
“Train stations are not only calling cards for the Netherlands that huge flows of people go past every day, but they are also public spaces that have to be laid out with great care. The train journey deserves that same level of care and attention – you should design it as a public space where you would be happy to stay, as an activity-related space that interacts with the sensory perceptions.” - Francine Houben, Creative Director at Mecanoo.
Dutch Design Week
From 20 October onwards, the Virtual Experience Lab containing the vision of the train interior will be at Ketelhuisplein in Eindhoven, the heart of the DDW festival. It is a full-scale design where you can use an entirely new virtual approach to experience the vision of the new train interior. You can buy an attractively-priced return journey plus entry ticket for €28 from the NS rail discount shop, Spoordeelwinkel. So take the train and one of the extra public transport bicycles provided especially for DDW from Eindhoven station.
Innovation Expo images copyright by Maaike Poelen.