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Dutch railways will enhance their IT rail connectivity between Netherlands and Belgium.

Posted by Emily O'Dowd on Mar 5, 2017

Hit Rail has just signed a new coNS rolling stock. (Photo courtesy of NS Rail).ntract with Dutch railway operator NS to provide enhanced rail connectivity between the
Netherlands and Belgium. The Netherlands based Hit Rail provides and manages international data communications infrastructure for 14 European railways. Under the three-year contract, this partnership is hoped to deliver greater connectivity for improved passenger information and reservation services for NS and partners. Efficient and secure data links are vital to support railway business processes. This contract will use Hit Rail’s Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) based Hermes Virtual Private Network (VPN). Additionally, it will cover the migration of the company’s connectivity with international ticketing joint venture BeNe Rail International to the Hermes VPN.

Under the agreement, Hit Rail already helped with the relocation of NS’s routers to two new sites in Amsterdam and Apeldoorn set up to provide 6Mbps Ethernet links from each site to the Hermes VPN. NS is the principal railway operator in the Netherlands for passenger traffic, it runs 4,800 scheduled domestic trains a day, serving 1.2 million passengers. It also provides international rail services from the Netherlands to other European destinations.

Infrabel is the infrastructure manager of the railways in Belgium and BeNe Rail International is a joint venture between NMBS (Belgian Rail) and NS, created to manage the sales and distribution of international and high speed train tickets and help shape the Dutch and Belgian rail systems. The Hermes VPN, already used by NS and Infrabel, was the logical way forward for NS, BeNe and Infrabel because of its reliability, performance and security and the fact that it is used by so many of Europe’s rail operators, enhancing connectivity and interoperability for all.

At this year's 8th annual SmartRail Europe conference, you will be able to hear from both Marjon Kaper, Managing Director, NS International and Ugo Dell’Arciprete, Commercial Manager, HIT Rail BV. Find the full speaker list here and don't miss your opportunity to attend... "If you want to meet everyone working in telecoms in the rail industry, this is the place to be."

The European railways have always been in the vanguard of international data communications. Hermes took shape in 1978 when six European railways agreed, under the patronage of the International Union of Railways, that there was a need to provide a high quality data communications network across railway boundaries. They decided to develop and operate a network supporting a wide range of structured exchanges of information between otherwise incompatible IT platforms serving passenger and freight business. Each network commissioned the installation of the “Hermes” network. From the beginning the decision has been made to use international standards where possible.

Erik Dekkers of NS said: “We have been working with Hit Rail for many years and wanted to upgrade our services and connectivity to enable a greater use of the service. Hermes is already widely used throughout the European passenger rail system for reservations and international messaging so it made sense to recommend that BeNe should also migrate to the VPN.”

Work will be carried out to upgrade the connection of BeNe Rail International in Brussels with 6Mbps Ethernet links via the Infrabel network, with migration of its data traffic to the Hermes VPN. Once these works have been completed, all three organisations will benefit from a robust and open connectivity solution with built-in redundancy and future-proofing. Access to Hit Rail’s Hermes VPN services will ensure the three Benelux rail organisations have the best possible message interoperability for passenger reservations in-country and internationally.

NS rail engineers. (Photo courtesty of NS Rail)

The Hermes VPN is already the connectivity choice for all railway reservation systems in Europe using the UIC 918 international reservations protocol, including, amongst others, ResaRail, EPA, Thalys and Eurostar. The enhanced service for NS, together with the connection of BeNe to Hermes, opens up a vast pool of reservation opportunities for passengers within the region and throughout Europe.

Antonio Lopez, General Manager of Hit Rail, added: “This is an excellent solution for NS and its partners - we are pleased that all three organisations have chosen to connect to our Hermes VPN and have therefore been provided with enhanced connectivity, delivering better information and reservation services to their passengers.”

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Topics: IT and WiFi

Emily O'Dowd

Written by Emily O'Dowd

On graduating with a degree in English Literature at Royal Holloway University of London, Emily joined the editorial team. When she isn't writing articles for the website or interviewing experts in the industry she enjoys reading, running and sailing.

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