Louis Michielsen

The use of system-engineering principles in the procurement of rolling stock – It will never be perfect, but it does not need to be


For the last eight years, NS has executed multiple rolling stock procurement projects, with a combined budget of over € 2.5 billion. It started in 2012 with SNG. As the world continuously changed, this project saw NS start employing its own approach to system engineering. Using new tools to support office work, communication and requirements management, the project overview wasn’t created by simplification, rather by adding complexity through more holistic and connected views.

The main lesson: it is not just the application of system engineering that makes a project successful. Having the right team, a common goal, the proper tools, good data, and a suitable governance and change process are key elements – even before the application of system engineering can start. In a short presentation, we will share our insights on how systems engineering helped us in realizing successful rolling stock procurement projects by aligning the view of multidisciplinary teams of lead buyers, lawyers and managers, as well as operational and technical experts.​

Louis Michielsen finished his master’s degree in Aerospace engineering in 1995 in the field of aircraft structural engineering and moved to the railway industry in 1999. Since then, he’s been a member of several international working groups like AEIF, CER and ERA drafting and implementing TSI (harmonized European law). As standards and legislation manager, he was responsible for the authorization of vehicles, including the experimental A32 tram on Dutch heavy rail infrastructure. As the technical project manager of vehicle procurement at Dutch Railways, he implemented system engineering principles in vehicle procurement for SNG Sprinter and ICNG Intercity series for NS. In parallel, he was chairing the EuroSpec consortium in driving standardization of rolling stock and supported the Round Table Rail initiative to find steps forward in harmonizing rolling stock procurement in Europe. At the moment, he is the project manager for the new double-deck trains NS is currently tendering.