NS and GVB may have to cut services to cope with coronavirus shortfall
Both the GVB and Dutch Railways (NS) expect to continue to suffer from reduced passenger numbers until at least 2025, with both companies reporting significant losses in 2020 and concerns about the future of their services.
NS reports loss of 2,3 billion in 2020
NS has reported a net loss of 2,3 billion euros for 2020 and has once again asked the Dutch government for financial support. The rail company saw passenger numbers drop drastically in spring 2020, recording the lowest number in April, when they transported fewer than five million passengers, compared to over 30 million in April 2019.
The company states in its 2020 report that it does not expect passenger numbers to reach the 2019 level before 2025, and so has announced plans to reduce the size of the company and protect its future: 1,4 billion euros will be saved between now and 2024 by cutting 2.300 jobs and reducing investment by 30 percent.
In spite of this plan, NS is still asking the government to provide additional long-term financial support. The company will continue to receive payments until September 2021 as compensation for reduced passenger numbers, but has said further support will be needed in order to maintain a regular and fully operational timetable. Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra has said the rail company will instead have to reduce the number of services on offer: maintaining the current timetable “does not seem to be financially sustainable in the long term.”
Amsterdam public transport under threat
Meanwhile, public transport in Amsterdam is facing significant financial challenges, with the chairman of the Amsterdam Transport Region, Egbert de Vries, warning that services may have to be further reduced over the coming months.
GVB passenger numbers are currently 70 percent lower than they were in 2019, and they aren’t expected to fully bounce back to 2019 levels until 2030. Therefore, De Vries says further action may be necessary: “It is clear that our society will have to live with the consequences of the pandemic for a long time and that the impact on public transport will also be under discussion in the coming years.”
Public transport services in Amsterdam have already been cut, with fewer metros and buses running through the night. De Vries says accessibility is vitally important, but that further reducing public transport services is “possible and necessary,” but is hopeful that the government will provide financial support to cover the losses from the last quarter of 2020.