High scores for SURFLOGH’s locker pilot in Drenthe

25 November 2021 - Published by Deirdre Buist
The success of the delivery lockers at public transport hubs in rural Drenthe has not gone unnoticed and continues to receive widespread media coverage, nationally and regionally. Following this inspirational success, the neighbouring province of Groningen now wants them too!

As online consumer figures continue to rise, sustainable solutions are increasingly necessary if we are to prevent our streets being clogged with delivery vans. SURFLOGH has supported the installation of lockers at three rurally located transport hubs in Drenthe to test the viability of this alternative service. Frans Hamstra, Project Leader from the Province of Drenthe for the hubs initiative, is proud of the scores to date: “Starting out it’s hard to tell what works where, and why. Delivery lockers are quickly becoming ‘part and parcel’ of the urban environment and 24/7 city live. But we weren’t sure if this concept, seen initially by our SURFLOGH partners in Mechelen, would catch on here. We can be very pleased with the results so far. This pilot offers diverse opportunities in the region and we’re excited to see such interest from so many logistics stakeholders.”

Rural accessibility

The locker pilot in Drenthe is soon to be expanded, first to the city of Hoogeveen and possibly to the city of Emmen. ‘’We’re aiming for a total of about 60 hubs in the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe”, Frans adds. ” We’re investigating how much these delivery lockers contribute to the liveability and accessibility of the rural environment. The business case wasn’t that promising at first glance, but interest is high and the hub at Rolde is currently in the lead in terms of user traffic.”

The pilot was also designed with local businesses in mind. Local retailers or chemists, for example, use the lockers as an extra service for customers that cannot collect goods or prescriptions during normal business hours. This could also stimulate consumers to shop more locally.


Not every location is suitable for a delivery hub. Together with the University of Groningen (RUG), research is being carried out to discover what works best for inhabitants, commuters, logistics companies and local businesses. “That’s been challenging this past year”, Frans admits. “Corona has led to significantly less people using public transport, and that’s where we consciously placed the lockers – at hubs where you can leave the car and switch to public transport or bike.”

White label

The greatest reason for success, according to the project leader, is the flexibility and 24/7 accessibility. Moreover, it is a ‘white label’ concept, meaning the service is operated independent of a specific delivery company and the lockers can be used by both national and local services. The public locker walls, with varying dimensions and capacity, are managed by De Buren and are completely automatic. There are also plans to test cool lockers with SURFLOGH partners in  Mechelen. This could expand the potential opportunities significantly to include food, perishable goods and medication, for example.

Predicted expansion

The latest pilot will be implemented at Hoogkerk at Groningen city limits. The trial is intended to ‘catch’ parcels before they enter the city and thus limit the number of transport movements. De Buren is expected to grow fast as a company in the coming years. “We think 60% of the lockers will be located at shopping centres, 20% at public transport hubs and 20% at corporate locations or industrial areas. But we still cannot predict what works best yet”, says Frans.

Together with the project leader and the Province of Drenthe. SURFLOGH partners are proud to be part of facilitating this initial success and we’ll keep you posted on how this spreads further.

 *Photo: Harry Tielman ; Project Leader Frans Haamstra at the Locker hub in Gieten, Drenthe