Dutch Railways Delivers More Reliable Train Service
Higher customer satisfaction, predictive maintenance, IT leadership
"We have Holland's railway concession for 10 years, and to get the next one, we have to prove to our government that we are the best company," explains Wim Liet, program manager for IT on trains.
"Our ambition is to deliver more reliable and better services to customers and other stakeholders, which is what we call the 'virtual train,' says Hans Tonissen, program architect. "Trains need control IT, or intelligent train technology, for safe driving, which the train supplier provides, as well as comfort IT, or virtual train technology, for everything else: travel information, real-time monitoring, and services for maintenance and control unit staff. Until now, train suppliers delivered all this IT, so each type of train (and we have nine of them) had their own IT environments. It was hard to make it work together and maintenance was very expensive. We decided we needed generic components and a relatively simple architecture. Trains are complex, and we have more than 800, all with their own onboard information systems and a lot of real-time data that we could do beautiful things with if we had it in our central on-shore data center. That's the heart of our concept."
"We needed a good, scalable, reliable platform to handle the onboard and onshore systems, and a huge amount of data," continues Mr. Tonissen. "We also needed guaranteed synchronization between onboard and on-shore and no message loss. We needed streaming analytics and business rules for determining the best GPS service and other applications.
"We did a tender for our virtual train and intelligent train projects, and TIBCO was number one. We use TIBCO BusinessEvents® streaming analytics, TIBCO ActiveSpaces® in-memory computing, and of course, TIBCO BusinessWorks™ integration and TIBCO Enterprise Message Service™."
More Information, Higher Customer Satisfaction
"At the moment, we don't have a lot of train stock, so people have to stand in route," says Mr. Liet. "We've made a mobile app so people can see train locations and where the open seats are. We have a lot of sensors on the train, and we transmit that data on-shore, even from older trains. The solution has made it possible to improve our business and our customer experience. Now that it's working, we're making contracts with other NS companies, like delivering GPS data to our rail infrastructure company ProRail, and they give us back enriched information. They can tell us which tracks trains are on, so we are getting better information and better solutions. We have another project that is delivering information about disturbances."
"There are three or four metrics for the government ," says Tonissen. "One is 91% on time. One is Net Promotor Score, which must be 7.5, I think. We are doing better and better at meeting expectations."
"Together with TIBCO and CGI, we made software for the virtual train," says Liet. "Now you can download the travel planner app and see where all the trains are. The IT is the same in all the trains, so it’s very easy for us to deliver new applications, and that is a really big change from the past. No other train company does that.
"We're asking our business partners what they want to do in the future. And because we have shown that we can do it, they are coming to us. Now there are almost 50 projects that they want to engage with us on, to get better information and more business value."
"We can also notify our rail maintenance company, NedTrain, when they need to act," says Liet. "We send them information about the status of the train so they can see what is actually going on and can intervene. They can actually anticipate and act so that trains stay on the track, which is really big in the train business."
"Because we now have a platform that we can use for all trains, we are getting better travel information, and we can add data from the Internet of Things—but also the Internet of persons. Do we collect that data or don't we? Our commercial department is grappling with that; But, when you collect customer information and give them back something that is beneficial, there's a huge opportunity," says Liet.
"I expect that using TIBCO for new services in the new virtual train will make it better and better. I believe that," says Tonissen.