‘Why not providing child care at the railway station?’
If it were up to the Belgian railway company SNCB/NMBS railway stations would become real hot spots, where commuters could do some shopping, have a hair cut and where their children could be taken care of.
With an increasing number of train travellers, train stations are becoming more and more important and should fully exploit their potential, says Cédric Blanckaerts, SNCB/NMBS’ responsible for commercial activities in the stations.
The Brussels-South station has 2,8 million travellers a month, the Antwerp Central station 1,5 million. These figures are comparable to the amount of visitors in the most important shopping streets, like the Brussels Nieuwstraat and the Antwerp Meir, respectively good for 1,2 and 1,3 million visitors per month. “Seeing this figures it is obvious that stations have a huge potential”, Blanckaert says.
In 2017 424 shops in 80 Belgian stations realized 23,8 million euro, a 17% rise compared to the year before. On top of that the candy and drink vending machines brought in 3,4 million euro. To attract even more business activity SNCB/NMBS now wants to rent another 4.000 square metre.
“A station needs to become the place to be”, Blanckaert explains. The basic idea is: “what can we do to make life easier for our travellers?”.
Shops and services
SNCB/NMBS wants to professionalize its strategy and does not only want to provide food, drinks and shops but also services. Small supermarkets where commuters quickly do some last-minute shopping already exist, but in the future it should be possible for commuters to do their shopping online in the morning and pick-up their groceries after work. At this moment a pilot project is organized at the station of Ottignies.
And there is more. Why not providing child care in stations? With an increasing number of train travellers, up to 230 million Belgian passengers last year, a child care service could make the life of commuters a lot easier. This is not a new idea: in 2010 SNCB/NMBS already announced the arrival of several nurseries but today only the station of Liège-Guillemins has one.
SNCB/NMBS already has a close cooperation with Belgian mail and parcel company Bpost, but the train company wants to install more collecting points for parcels and shops providing the service, as more and more people shop online.