The Digitalisation of the Belgian Railways

  • Digital Business
  • Online

Welcome aboard the railway of digitalisation. There’s still a road ahead of us, but we have travelled along different digital journeys. Discover the great digital evolution NMBS has realised over the last years. 


One main objective

The core objective of NMBS is satisfied and happy customers. The digital realisations all result in better user experience and customer satisfaction. And one of the ways to do this is by focussing on mobile and digital, and creating a seamless experience in any aspect at NMBS.

Train control

Back in the ‘old days’ everything was done manually: in order to get your routes of to receive information, you needed paper and a telephone. Today, a train driver receives everything on a tablet and processes have been digitalised and automated. He/she doesn’t need to get the information he/she needs, it’s pushed to the train driver. Some examples:

  • Automated registration of start and stop times
  • Push notifications about work on the tracks
  • Eco-driving tips
  • Digitalised train planning (train drivers with the needed certification are immediately planned in the correct route)

Because they now have a real-time insight in the driving behaviour, NMBS can focus more on coaching train drivers instead of handling administration. Because of this digital journey, a trrain driver has the right information at the right time, is coached and guided in his driving and decision making and he/she gains more time. This al off course results in better punctuality (and better punctuality means happier customers).

Train conductor

Today a train conductor is equipped with mobile devices to enable them to help customers as good as possible and to increase punctuality. They have a smartwatch that signals them in how many seconds their train must leave. With a mobile device they can also register lost objects and even defects on a certain part of the train. And as we all know, a train conductor can validate and sell tickets on the train.

Traveller

Screenshot Guido
Screenshot Tim

NMBS has to axes they are working on: Multi channel strategy and how to manage information flows towards the travellers.

Multi channel strategy

The goal is that a traveller must be able to purchase any type of ticket through any possible channel. This seems obvious and easy, but with the many types of tickets and channels, this is a lot more difficult than it sounds.

NMBS has realised the multi channel strategy for the majority of their tickets (and the rest will follow). When you want to buy a ticket now you can:

  • Go to a website and buy your ticket
  • Use the mobile app
  • Use a ticket vending machine at a train station
  • Buy a ticket at a cash desk
  • Chat with a chatbot and purchase your ticket

Manage information flow towards travellers

A happy customer is an informed customer. When you are well informed you can anticipate and you feel less frustrated or disappointed (yes, your train may be delayed, but you now know you have time to grab a cup of coffee).

In the past, every aspect that provided travellers with information had a different information source and information had to be stored in different back-office systems. Today all has been synchronised into one system providing information for every aspect (train conductors, screens in the train stations and on platforms, screen inside the train, the mobile app,…). Where you get your information doesn’t matter, you are sure to have the latest update and the correct information from any source.

More about digitalisation at NMBS

Digitalisation also happens behind the scenes. In the work center and in logistics area, a lot of improvements have resulted from digitalisation. Watch the full session and discover the full digital journey of NMBS so far.

Head over to the related tab for an interesting read, the presentation and the recording.