Last week, AMS Institute co-organized a successful workshop on Stations of the Future, together with the Embassy of the Netherlands in Paris, Atelier Néerlandais, TU Delft (DIMI) and La Fabrique de la Cité. During this joint French-Dutch event, we discussed the future of stations and explored possibilities for future research collaborations within this theme. Cities worldwide continue to grow, therefore stations are – more than ever – crucial hubs for mobility, exchange, and act as catalysts for successful urban development. The station, as the main point of intersection between the railway and the city, is the central link in the mobility chain and, as catalyst of urban developments, it is both a place of exchange between various modes of transport and a living space providing services.
During the event, we addressed several issues within the scope of Le Grand Paris Express. The mega-initiative « Le Grand Paris » has the ambition to create several economic centres around the metropolitan area of Paris that are connected with a 200 km long new network of public transport as well as with airports and high-speed train services. Together with the « Randstad » networks in the Netherlands, this seminar focussed on a debate on several case studies in both metropolitan areas to understand the role of station hubs (intermodal nodes) in these areas. A selected group of professionals, stakeholders, experts, designers and scientists from both France and the Netherlands were invited to share their experience, knowledge, and expertise in several working sessions focused on topics like « station as inter modal-node », « station as destination » and «station as data center». Including a debate on the following topics: business cases of rail-metro stations, public space and architecture, densification and programming of station areas, crowd sensing, way-findings and navigation systems, pedestrian flows management and security systems (waiting zones and retail), and the integration of data.
The intention of the event was twofold: enhance French-Dutch collaboration in matchmaking, alignments, and identification of a new program and new projects, plus setting up a joint research agenda for prominent (national and international) follow up initiatives, based on pilot studies. To ensure match-making and the follow-up of this event, a board of intentions was singed, initially by Nico Schiettekatte (Dutch Embassy), then Marcel Hertogh (DIMI TU Delft) and Cécile Delolme (Université Paris-Est),Cécile Maisonneuve (La Fabrique de la Cité) and Arjan van Timmeren (AMS Institute). Participants of the workshop were also invited to leave their contact information and express their intent for further developing projects within this theme. 28 contacts were added to the board!
Exclusive visit Fabrique du Metro
The completion of the Grand Paris Express is accompanied by La Fabrique du Métro. This equipment illustrates the partnership approach of the Société du Grand Paris. Engineers, students and employees of the Société du Grand Paris who are working side by side to build the new metro. Like the stations of the future, which will host shared workspaces, La Fabrique du Métro welcomes innovation stakeholders working in mobility, digital, services, customer information and construction sectors.
We had an exclusive visit to the place (not yet open to the public) by Societé du Grand Paris. The visit was combined with a visit to a guided tour to St. Ouen Docks, a redevelopment area.
In the second part of the workshop, the group was divided into three subgroups: s like « station as inter modal-node », « station as destination » each discussing one of the themes and defining research questions. Here you can read a short wrap-up and the visual results (made by Louise Plantin) of the workshop.
1.Station as intermodal node
The workshop was introduced by moderator Niels van Oort (Assitant professor at TU Delft) and Yo Kaminagai (Head of Design in Projects management department at RATP). The intermodal node does not only connect different modes of transport but also several levels (local, regional, (inter)national). Finding an optimal mix of transport modes for each situation, and making it as seamless as possible for the user, are the main goals to achieve. However, we need to take into account that intermodal nodes are very situation-specific and thus choices per location should be made, while we also need to rethink the intermodal node as an urban place and look for new design solutions. Incorporating flexibility and finding ways to deal with the often complicated governance structure around the station are the big challenges to take into account.
2. Station as destination
The session ‘Station as Destination’ focused on the potential of stations to become much more than a just place to get on and off trains or other modes of transport. During the session, stations were portrayed as places to work, do business, meet, shop and relax, and experts showed case studies of rail-metro stations, public space and architecture, densification and programming of station areas, both in the Netherlands and France.
Ton Venhoeven (founder VenhoevenCS) moderated the session, introduced the topic and urgent research questions within this field: “Stations should attract people with a programmatic mix, next to offering transfer to other means of transport” he defined. Sebastiaan de Wilde, Director of Station Development and Maintenance, showcased the renewal plans for Station Zuid in Amsterdam, in which he focused on value models and the added value of public and private industry in the development of stations. Finally, Ute Schneider, an architect and urban planner at KCAP, glanced through the recent phenomena of urbanization processes in relation to the question “How do networks of transport inform our cities?”, where she focused on public transport as an urban generator, the station as connector and the station as destination.
During an interactive session that followed, the participants discussed, among other topics, on their perspective of stations as destinations, and which financial mechanisms work best for a station as destination. Impressions from the audience included terms like “Peoples Place, meeting place, detestation.” Statements included “The station can invade the city”, “The station is a public space well-integrated”, “Which identity do we want to give to the station?”, “There are different notions of stations”, “The importance of urban planning”, and “Healthy city”.
3. Station as datacenter
Winnie Daamen (Associate professor at TU Delft) and Jeroen van den Heuvel (Station Development NS) introduced how and which kinds of data can be collected at stations on crowds and pedestrian flows: realtime crowd-monitoring through counting camera’s, Wifi and Bluetooth-tracking and public transport chip card data; and measuring sentiments through the use of social media data and surveys. According to the participants, data can mainly be used to understand crowds and pedestrian flows and to forecast future situations in relation to safety, but also to understand customer satisfaction and comfort, to improve the design of stations.
Challenges lie in the integration and cross-fertilization of data from different operators of the different modalities that come together in a station (an ecosystem approach would be preferable) and integrating stations in its surroundings, creating new and optimal user experience and designs based on data, better understanding causality within the data and researching privacy issues related to the data.