Infrabel control room


Ergonomic work environment for 2020 rail traffic control

Infrabel is rethinking the way signalling boxes are organised. New tools and procedures will redefine the 2020 way of operating a signalling box. The layout of the room and the workstation need to be redesigned so as to allow for the traffic managers to perform their safety-critical tasks as efficiently as possible.

Design challenge

Infrabel wanted to make informed decisions about the set-up of the future signalling box. Starting from the actual needs of their users, the new environment needs to be designed to fit user needs in terms of cognitive and physical ergonomics. Through involvement of all stakeholders, Infrabel wanted to arrive at a grounded, clear and shared vision for the coming years.


This project was carried out in partnership with Symbio, a consultancy with highly valued expertise in control-room design. Namahn and Symbio started with an in-depth field study to understand how users currently work. To understand the future way of working Namahn developed detailed scenarios in cooperation with experienced users.
The detailed analysis served as the basis for a new room and workstation layout. A real-size, low-cost (wood and cardboard) prototype of a complete room was the scene for a series of role-playing sessions of the scenarios, involving a total of 60 users. As they discussed their experience throughout the sessions, the proposed layout evolved towards the final layout.


The final layout takes the form of a collection of design principles for a signalling box that will evolve from the current situation towards the 2020 situation and even beyond. By making the design rationale explicit, future decisions can be made in a consistent manner towards the target situation. The co-design process yielded a solution that is accepted throughout the organisation, from the field up to the highest management level, who congratulated the project team for its involvement of end users. A first implementation is being realised in a newly built signalling box.