FOLLOWING trials at Rotterdam Blaak, NS Railinfrabeheer is to test the Orientation for Persons via Electronic Navigation (OPEN) system at Utrecht CS. Developed with funding from the EU’s Technological Initiative for the Disabled & Elderly (TIDE) programme, OPEN uses a small device carried by the passenger to receive signals from infra-red beacons and relay audible instructions via headphones.

Trials at Blaak began last June, in conjunction with city bus, tram and metro operator RET. 12 beacons were installed in the NS portion of the station and eight around the metro platforms. Of the 60 blind and partially-sighted passengers who tested OPEN, 90% found it useful.

The trial at Utrecht will last for a year. As well as the equipment used at Blaak, it will test a similar system from a different manufacturer. Way-finding systems have also been tested at metro stations in Paris and London (RG 9.97 p581).

  • London Transport’s Unit for Disabled Passengers has published a black and white large-print Underground map, with information on wheelchair access at stations. For passengers who are colour-blind or have other visual impairments, each line has its own distinct pattern. o