Building near the track: is it safe?
The Netherlands plans to build large-scale housing in the coming years. Due to the limited space available, new construction sites close to existing risk sources are also being considered. One such risk source is the Basisnet, the railway over which a large amount of hazardous substances are transported. This raises the question of whether it is safe to live in the vicinity of these locations.
The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management set risk ceilings (a maximum number of transport movements) for these train routes in 2015. In practice, however, these risk ceilings are exceeded at several locations. This is partly due to an underutilised Betuwe Railway Line and lengthy rail works abroad. To find out whether and where risks will increase in 2027, the ministry asked the question: ‘How large are the current and future populations near the Basisnet?’
Together with the consultancy firm AVIV, we developed a webGIS environment for this question. This enabled 131 municipalities to indicate the extent to which the available population data was current. It also asked whether there are any environmental plans under development that may increase population density. Municipalities could also pencil in large-scale event sites next to the railway track.
The challenge in this project was to develop a functional environment and a uniform, practical input process for all municipalities within a limited time frame. We managed to do this successfully, with almost all municipalities providing solid information. This information was then used to perform risk calculations to determine the possible bottlenecks. Follow-up steps can then be determined within the framework of the National Programme Robust Basisnet.