Antwerp, Belgium

OSM in Belgian train stations: welcome on board

Julien Minet

For almost one year, Champs-Libres have been helping the SNCB Innovation Lab for reusing OSM data from Belgian train stations to create some new services for travelers. A first application is to provide information to the travelers about the accessibility of the railway platforms for bikes, in a dedicated route planner (BikeOnTrain Beta). In this talk, we’ll tell how and until where we’ve been so far.
We work on train station platform data and more specifically on their so-called accessibility objects: elevators, escalators, bike ramps, stairs, footways, etc. To our knowledge, it is the first time OSM data from train stations in Belgium was used in a specific application. More generally, we have also had the impression it is the first time a routeplanner gives a clear view to travelers on the different options to reach a platform.
When we started the project, OSM data in the Belgian stations had varying degrees of completeness and quality. Fortunately, all train stations and 95% of the platforms were present in OSM. The quality of accessibility objects data was rather good, despite it is hard to quantitatively assess its completeness.
With the help of the Belgian OSM community and some paid jobbers, we gradually improve the OSM data by adding missing accessibility objects in railway platforms. Dissemination of information was made through a chat room, a wiki page, the writing of a tutorial and some OSM diary posts. We will share some tips and tricks learned from the field when mapping stations.
There are more mature examples of successful use of OSM data by railways companies, notably from France (SNCF). As train and OSM enthusiasts, we’d be excited about further development of practices around improving OSM data in railway stations. We also see a paved way for collaborations among railway companies for the use of OSM data.

Marco Polo