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The new Utrecht Centraal train station, one of the busiest urban commuter hubs in the Netherlands, officially opened in December, after six years of renovation work to expand infrastructure and commuter services.
Originally, Utrecht Centraal Station was constructed to accommodate around 35 million passengers annually but its flow of travelers often reach more than 80 million per year. These numbers are also expected to peak at a high 100 million in 2030, underscoring the importance of further expanding its capacity. The new facilities and added one-stop transportation options is expected to accommodate the heavy flow of foot and commuter traffic to and from the area.
At the completion of the project, Utrecht Centraal Train Station has expanded from 8,000 to 25,000 sq.meters with widened platforms, more walkways, and additional commercial spaces. Now, passengers can choose from more than 30 shops and restaurants while waiting for the train schedule. The project also expanded the station footprint to include new city squares and a promenade that facilitates non-chip access from one side of the station to another.
The station also houses a bus and tram public transport hub allowing passengers to simply take a connecting ride to their destination. Like any major city in the Netherlands, Utrecht has a large biking population and the expanded station services reflect this. By next year, project proponents expect to complete the world’s largest bike parking facility within the complex. The facility will be built on the adjacent city square to accommodate 12,500 bikes.
Currently, there is an option to rent basic and electric model bicycles on site. Travelers who require immediate parking or storage for their bikes can also avail of either the free or paid bicycle storage/parking facilities. A bicycle repair shop can also be found in the station for owners requiring a quick fix solution.
The station’s undulating roof provides a unique architectural counterpoint to the Utrecht skyline, and also makes it look like one of the cooler train stations around. Designed by Benthem Crouwel Architects, the wave formation actually serves a practical purpose for the foot traffic going through the station everyday. The wave detail actually serves as a reference point for certain locations in the complex. There are three undulations emphasized by LED lights. The train station can be found under the highest wave. Meanwhile, the two lowest waves located at the opposite sides of the complex, houses the tram and bus stations. With the glass skylights incorporated into the architectural design, natural light constantly streams through the station complex providing full visibility to travelers.
The renovation of Utrecht Centraal is part of New Key Projects (NSP) initiated by the government to transform six major stations. The stations covered by the NSP also include Den Haag Centraal, Arnhem Centraal, Amsterdam Zuid, Breda, Den Haag Centraal, and Rotterdam Centraal. These stations are all major transportation hubs all over the country. According to the Netherlands Railways, the national government will invest a total of 1 billion euros in the NSP to address the expected influx of travelers to these urban destinations in the coming years.