Standardised, SFERA-based datasets for ProRail and NS

  • 10 July 2023
  • 3 minutes

SFERA (Smart communications For Efficient Rail Activities) is a European standard from UIC. SFERA was designed to standardise communications between infrastructure managers and transport operators. InTraffic has used the standard to design a dataset for ProRail. NS (Dutch Railways) and other transport operators can use this dataset to make their trains more punctual and energy-efficient.


NS (Dutch Railways) leads the way in Europe in using geographical data to determine the exact location of trains. Until recently, NS retrieved the required data from a wide range of different source systems at ProRail. The fragmented information was communicated real-time to the Driver Advisory System (DAS) in the trains via a large number of interfaces. This fragmentation made the environment vulnerable and maintenance-sensitive. This is why ProRail decided to use the SFERA standard to develop a uniform dataset, which carriers could access via one, single interface.


The three parties worked together to develop a new SFERA dataset, which allows NS to replace the old, fragmented way of transferring information by importing data via one, single interface. By using the SFERA standard, the dataset can be used by all carriers operating on the Dutch railway network. DAS software developers can take this option into account in their software, allowing them to standardise their software even further.

"InTraffic has the domain knowledge and technical expertise to develop the right dataset according to the SFERA standard. In addition, they understand what is involved in agile working. That combination ensures the success of this SFERA initiative."

Pim Sierhuis, solution architect at ProRail


Today, train drivers still have to use geographical information to decide for themselves how fast to drive and when to shift the train to neutral. In future, ProRail's Traffic Management System (TMS) will also be able to use the SFERA dataset. The TMS will then advise drivers based on actual conditions. This will allow trains to run at a constant speed, they will not encounter any red signals, and they will arrive at the next station on time.

Why InTraffic?

As a regular partner of both ProRail and NS, InTraffic knows the ICT landscape like no other, and also knows what data ProRail would have to provide to NS in order to meet its requirements. In addition, InTraffic has a huge amount of experience in converting data to a standard, in this case SFERA. Finally, agile working is now an integral part of InTraffic's working methods. All these factors contributed to making InTraffic the obvious party to support ProRail and NS in this initiative.

More information?

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Bob Brands