A Canadian with Dutch roots, Ellen has had half her heart in the Netherlands since the day she was b...
Improved service for Dutch night trains in 201527 February 2014, by Ellen Keith
Beginning in 2015, NS train users in the Netherlands can expect better service for evening and nighttime travel.
In a plan submitted to LOCOV, the public transportation consumer organisation, the NS executive board has promised to increase the frequency of popular evening routes, including better access to the Randstad.
This news comes a few days after the company received hefty fines from the transport ministry for failing to meet performance targets over the past two years.
Evening trains to run twice an hour
One of the most significant changes in this proposal is that evening trains will run twice an hour, until 8 pm. This applies to all stations served by NS trains, and will affect four main Sprinter trajectories:
The company estimates that this improvement will directly affect at least 4.000 travellers.
Weekend night trains extended
Anyone wishing to spend an evening in the Randstad will have more flexibility when it comes to travel plans. The NS promises to ensure that weekend train service from the Randstad will continue until 1am to all outlying hubs.
For example, a night train will be introduced from Utrecht to Nijmegen (via Ede-Wageningen and Arnhem), which will run Friday through Sunday night. In Utrecht, this will connect to additional routes to Amersfoort, Amsterdam, and Schiphol.
Better intercity access for commuters
These changes will not only affect evening travellers. In 2014, NS will increase the frequency of intercity trains between Amersfoort, Apeldoorn and Deventer from two to three times per hour, which will continue throughout the day. Around 750 people commute along this route.
Furthermore, intercity train service will double along the busy-Uitgeest trajectory. These adjustments will improve connection times with other trains, and should impact the commute of an estimated 1.500 passengers.
International travellers will also see improvements. Trains to Berlin will begin running as early as 5am, while those to Brussels will run 16 times per day.
Changes come in response to complaints
While these improvements may be widespread, for many, they are long overdue. On February 18, 2014, the transport ministry announced that the state-owned NS would have to pay a 2,75 euro million fine for failing to fulfil projected performance targets.
In 2012, Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment Wilma Mansveld imposed a 2,75 euro million preliminary fine in response to extensive complaints about train punctuality and service. This fine would have been waived if the company had made significant improvements in 2013, which echoes fines levied in .
At the end of 2013, statistics determined that 93,6 per cent of trains did arrive on time, but consumers were still unhappy with seat availability and service. Daytime passengers especially had trouble finding seats on the crowded commuter routes, while train conductors and employees were not on hand often enough to address questions or concerns.
Adding to this, customers have had to bear the weight of increased ticket prices, which were levied to compensate for the extra government charge for NS use of the rail tracks.
This aside, the general satisfaction over station cleanliness and the availability of information (particularly when it came to disrupted service announcements) did improve. However, these changes still were not enough to meet the requirements.
As such, the company now has to pay the 2012 fine, and Mansveld has levied an additional preliminary fine for 2013. This fine is also 2,75 million euros, the maximum possible amount.