More functional and integrated rail stations to help develop Smart Cities

Renato Mazzoncini illustrated a new concept of station at NextStations 2017

Madrid, 19 October 2017

More functional rail stations that are closer to customer needs and better integrated with the urban fabric can contribute to developing smart cities: the cities of the future, that are connected, sustainable and digital.

This new concept of station was illustrated by Renato Mazzoncini, CEO and MD of the FS Italiane Group and President of the Union Internationale des Chemins de fer (UIC) at the sixth edition of NextStations 2017 - Smart stations in smart cities, held in Madrid until 21 October.

Mazzoncini emphasised that "Rail stations are no longer just the place where a journey begins or ends. They are transforming into real meeting places, new city squares. In fact, we have found the people who spend time in some of the largest Italian stations - to meet up, shop, or use integrated transport services - are around 400% more than those who are leaving or arriving on trains. If you think that there are around 27 billion rail passengers worldwide, it is easy to realise how important it is to adapt stations to customer needs. It is therefore fundamental to improve their functionality, value, appeal and integration with the city, to make rail stations - both the large and the small or mid-size ones - not just efficient transport hubs, but also centres of attraction and services for the territory".

In Italy, there are more than 2,200 rail stations. In line with the FS Italiane Group 2017-2026 Industrial Plan in terms of developing integrated collective mobility and attention to customer experience, Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (the national infrastructure provider) has launched a program to improve accessibility (removing architectural barriers and requalification works), safety and public information systems (audio and video) in 620 stations over 10 years. This will involve a total investment of around 2.5 billion.

By the end of 2017, we will have completed the renovation works and removed architectural barriers in 50 stations located throughout the country, for a total investment of 220 million euros. A similar number of works will be carried out in 2018.

Lastly, digital technology will also improve accessibility to stations: for example, by installing new turnstiles for automatically controlling access to platforms and electronic ticket stamping, and extending the "Wi-Life Station" project - a virtual platform providing travel information and other services - to more stations.

Mazzoncini concluded that "In order to transform rail stations from places used only for travelling into new city squares, we need to integrate them with services for improving quality of life. In Italy, for example, we are thinking of equipping our stations with e-commerce points, hotels and a network of shops providing essential items, just like motorway service areas".