How do trains in the Netherlands show which cars have empty seats?

Answer: not an app, a sign

by News Staff / July 22, 2014

A 590-foot-long LED screen above the platform at the Den Bosch railway station in the southern Netherlands shows travelers which cars of the arriving train have empty seats using color-coding and symbols.

Infrared sensors tell the system where seats are available, and colors on the sign indicate empty seats. A block of green indicates a mostly empty car, orange means the car is a bit crowded, and red indicates the car is full. White blocks with arrows indicate where the doors will be when the train pulls up, so people know where to wait. Other symbols indicate first or second class, or whether it’s a quiet car.

Designed by ProRail and Edenspiekermann, the team spent three years researching the problem of crowded train platforms before launching a four-month pilot in 2013. During testing, the designers discovered that the app they developed was received less favorably than the sign, because it was harder to use. There are plans to install the signs in more train stations in the Netherlands.