Transportation Industry Jumps on Low-Code Wagon Using Mendix

Dutch Rail Passengers Can Now Plan Train Trips That Avoid Crowded Cars

  • ‘TrainWise’ app alerts passengers to rail car occupancy levels in real time so they can plan their trips accordingly
  • Minimum Viable Product built in just three weeks using the Mendix low-code platform; scales to handle passenger rail volume for all of the Netherlands

BOSTON – March 23, 2021 – Mendix, a Siemens business and global leader in low-code application development for the enterprise, today announced that NS, the Dutch national railway company, has launched a new customer application, Treinwijzer, or TrainWise, that allows NS passengers to learn in real time how crowded the train they plan to take is and choose a different train if they wish to avoid crowded cars. TrainWise officially launched in November 2020 and is the second customer-facing application NS has built with the Mendix low-code platform.

This new application built by the Dutch national railway company underscores the fact that enterprise low-code from Mendix is beginning to be adopted across nearly every industry. And that adoption has only accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic because the Mendix platform has many powerful features and capabilities enabling professional and citizen developers alike to build new critically needed cloud-based apps at record speed.

A passenger can log into TrainWise and select the departure and arrival stations and the time of departure. The app immediately shows the expected occupancy rate and informs the passengers about changes in occupancy. TrainWise is an initiative of the Dutch Railways to give travelers more choices when they want to avoid crowded cars.

Robin van Veen, product owner at NS, said, “Initially, we looked at existing software to handle reservations, but these solutions didn’t provide the functionality we needed. We already worked with Mendix for several internal apps, and our experienced team knows what the platform is capable of. It was also important to us to act quickly. Therefore, we decided we would leverage the Mendix low-code platform and build our own application.”

The Mendix low-code platform is a visual development approach to application development that allows developers with different levels of experience to create applications for web and mobile, using drag-and-drop components and model-driven logic through a graphical user interface.

Web-based TrainWise is the second low-code app NS has built especially for customers. Van Veen explained, “We want our passengers to travel comfortably and feel safe on the trains, especially during the pandemic. With the app, we’re asking passengers to help us by registering their trips. This way, we gain valuable insights into the occupancy rate and can easily predict which trains will be crowded and notify our passengers.”

NS Competence Center Mobile

Since 2018, NS has built 35 applications with Mendix. Most of the applications within NS are developed in its Competence Center Mobile (CCM). Mendix’s low-code platform is playing an increasingly important role in this department. “The Mendix team within NS has more than doubled since it started almost three years ago, and the pipeline for new projects has completely filled up again, despite the pandemic. In the coming year we expect that not only will the number of applications developed with Mendix increase, but also the number of developers on the team. The TrainWise app shows very convincingly what is possible in a very short time — even for more complex projects,” says Joline Davidse, product manager Competence Center Mobile at NS.

NS made sure to focus on scalability as it developed the TrainWise app. Aizo Krikke, product owner at NS, said, “We launched the app nationwide, so we had to make sure it could handle a large number of users. Together with Mendix, we initiated performance tests to make sure the app could serve high volumes.” Mendix demonstrated that it comfortably meets NS’s requirements for scale. TrainWise guides thousands of passengers nationwide, every day, to choose less crowded cars and trains and travel comfortably.

Development and go-live at unprecedented speed

Within three weeks, NS launched a minimal viable product. Krikke said, “With our focused ten-person team of dedicated business engineers from NS and Mendix partner First Consulting, testers, product owners, and developers, we were able to develop the app on a technical level. We made optimal use of other disciplines within NS, such as communication, to take TrainWise live as quickly and effectively as possible. Mendix was the enabling platform we could rely on to test and go to market with the app in just weeks. Now, every passenger in the Netherlands can use the web-based app and plan a trip based on the information provided, while at the same time helping us improve crowd management in the train stations and on the trains.”

During the summer of 2020, NS tested TrainWise in a pilot project on the Amsterdam-Zandvoort line, a popular beach destination. Van Veen said, “It was our first successful test. A small group of passengers provided the data we were looking for. The data from the app warned them to avoid overcrowded trains.”

Reserve a desk and ensure a safe commute

NS, together with Mendix, keeps improving the app every day. Krikke added, “We have plans to integrate the app into the workplace reservation systems that large employers have put in place to ensure a safe working environment. Employees can also use the app to make reservations for a desk in the office, and of course, it’s important they can reach the office safely. TrainWise will connect with the employers’ reservation tools and employees will be able to register their train journey directly in these tools.”

Rob Versluis, customer success manager at Mendix, said, “NS shows in an impressive way that an effective large-scale app can be developed in just three weeks — one that delivers great performance on high user volumes and complies with strict rules for privacy and security. The NS team continues to improve TrainWise to provide better insights for both the passenger and NS.”

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