Room for inclusiveness

Railway stations can act as a barrier between city areas, resulting in low traffic rates from city inhabitants. The city of Nijmegen and Sweco analysed which target groups move around in the station area and which target groups might use it in the future. The severe shortage of homes has raised attention for this area, including that of investors. Within a close proximity of 10 minutes walking distance of a station, more and more investment projects are being developed, both for housing and offices.

For all target groups

Nijmegen and Sweco applied a “design for all” method, which uses the concept that if a three year old child and an eighty year old can co-exist in an area safely and healthily, then that area is in fact fit for all users (“design for all”). A young child moves quickly and energetically, remaining close to the ground, whereas an elderly person moves slowly and could have limited sight and energy. This comparison is key when designing furnishings (e.g lights and landscape furniture) for a space. For example, benches can be used to guide the elderly intuitively from A to B. Our research -4- shows that if you take into account the various target groups, both in age and in background, and offer them activities that they are interested in, that public spaces such as station squares will be more inclusive.

If the space above the railway station is used for housing or offices, it is essential that the “ground floor” level above the railway remains connected with the platforms below. Travellers should feel safe, not isolated. For this purpose, skylights could be built into the vaulted area.


‘Stad van de toekomst 2050 – Rotterdam Alexander’, VenhoevenCS and Sweco et al., 2018.

Daan Klaase, NS Stations:

The number of travellers will increase with another 40% by 2040. Railway stations will be crowded.

‘NS Stations has recently published its point-of-view “Journey to the Future”. As stations are becoming more and more crowded, the question arises how our travellers will be able to get to the station and the platforms. We have defined three criteria for the transport to and from railway stations: muscles before fossil fuels, small transport before big, and sharing – e.g. bicycles – before property. In big cities we put more and more emphasis on “the walkable city” – where walking towards and from the station is comfortable. Pedestrians take up less space than cars and bicycles, and walking is sustainable and healthy. Another important theme is vaulted stations. Urbanisation in the Netherlands requires creative solutions. Also, it makes sense to build in the most accessible locations – which is above the railway station. As the growing number of travellers will require more facilities, the extra room above the station can also be used for e.g. bicycle sheds. Finally, building above the station can enhance the “fordability” of the city. Cycling from Utrecht city centre to the other side of the station currently means you have to pass ten traffic signs. There must be a faster way. That is why we have joined forces with ProRail, city councils and other parties in pilots to investigate the potential for building above the station in three locations: Utrecht Central Station, Amsterdam Sloterdijk, and The Hague Central Station.’