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AutoTURN and Rotterdam’s Central Station Bus Loop Design

Rotterdam's Central Station

Rotterdam is a unique blend of history, architecture, infrastructure and inno-vation virtually unmatched in Europe. One of the new landmarks is Rotterdam’s Central Station, a transportation nexus which now rivals Paddington Station in London or Gare de Nord in Paris or any of the leading cities in the world. With all the commerce coming into the city via the mas-sive shipping industry, it stands to reason that upgrading the transportation network to encourage travel and tourism was top-of-mind for planners at the City of Rotterdam.

The original Central Station was known as the Delftsche Poort and Maas station. It was a key link in the Netherlands rail system until it was destroyed in the Rotterdam Blitz of May 1940. As the new Central Station took shape, the old station which served Rotterdam since the late 1950s was demolished. While some were sad to see an old building come down, many more were pleased to see the new Central Station adding beauty to the skyline. The station accommodates 110,000 passengers per day and by 2025 the capacity will rise to 323,000 passengers per day.

The new station was years in the making and the planning and design phases of the project really accelerated when the City of Rotterdam purchased a 10-seat license of AutoTURN for determining where the bus loop could go and how the station would integrate into the European rail system.

The new Rotterdam Central Station is an architectural marvel and an important transportation hub for the city. The City of Rotterdam’s Department of Traffic and Transport took an active role in planning the bus terminal section of the Central Station and used AutoTURN from Transoft Solutions to ensure safe operation and design. With the upgrades, Central Station is now an international-caliber train station, with high-speed trains bringing passengers from Paris en route to Amsterdam.

AutoTURN is the world’s leading soft-ware for vehicle swept path analysis. Transportation engineers have relied on it for decades to accurately visualize turning radii, transition curves, super elevation and lateral friction in all types of roadway, highway and site design projects. It was important for the station planners to have the most accurate data.


“The old bus station was originally located on the main square (Stationsplein) in front of the Central Station,” said Marcus Edelenbosch, in the City of Rotterdam’s Traffic and Transport department. “Part of the project Central Station was to create an attractive new entrance of the city. That’s why the bus station got a new location on the side wing of the Central Station in the Conradstraat (Conrad Street). The old station did not conform to the European standard for accessibility and needed improvement.”

The bus station is an integral part of the new Rotterdam Central Station. For the designers of the station, the traveler is cen-tral. For European travelers, a pleasant trav-elling environment and easy access to dif-ferent modes of transport along with shops and services are important principles. And the new station has exceeded those expec-tations.

The bus station is located immediately next to the public transport terminal in Conradstraat (Conrad Street). The new bus station is comprised of eleven stops for the city bus services and one stop for international bus services. In addition, the bus station will provide direct access to the subterranean metro station. A section of the road is set aside for loading/unloading and Kiss & Ride passengers.

“We based the details from the very beginning on AutoTURN,” said Edelenbosch. “During the process, we changed the platform design and we checked with AutoTURN all the time to see if the changes were possible.”

The design challenges of the terminal were complex, due to the limited space available in the Conradstraat (Conrad Street). It is a narrow street surrounded by build-ings, and it was important to check that the high boarding curb around the platform couldn’t be run over by the buses’ front overhang during a turning movement.

The planners at the City of Rotterdam used AutoTURN from the beginning and knew the types of vehicles that were expected to use the new bus terminal and added their dimensions to the AutoTURN vehicle library. Buses with lengths of 12 meters and 18 meters were part of the local fleet, passenger vehicles and several types of trucks were all evaluated in the design phase of the project.

“We started using AutoTURN after the first concept study to check if it was possible to make the bus station fit in the available space,” said Edelenbosch. “With the help of the software, all entrance and exit angles and the required lane widths were checked. The dimensions of the Rotterdam Transit Corporation (RET) city buses deviate from the standard bus in AutoTURN. The software allowed us to manually customize these buses.”

The relationship between the City of Rotterdam and Transoft Solutions goes back to well over a decade. Both the company and the city have transformed them-selves in the past years; since 2001, Transoft has gone global with clients in 130 countries and Rotterdam has added De Rotterdam, the Markthal, the Central Station and many other unique structures to its skyline.

“Rotterdam is an interesting city to visit and the new Central Station is a striking example of the daring, new architecture people are talking about,” said Yorick Keeven, regional account manager for Transoft Europe BV. “In an iconic building project like the Central Station, it was important for Marcus and his team to have an accurate picture of the vehicle turning movements for maxi-mum safety and efficiency. We’re pleased that our software played an important role in this centerpiece of Rotterdam architecture.”


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