Train strikes in Utrecht force NS to cancel almost all trains in the Netherlands
Nederlandse Spoorwegen’s (NS) decision to cancel practically all trains across the Netherlands on Tuesday as a result of the strikes planned in the Utrecht region has been met with frustration and confusion, with the Dutch government calling on the rail company to come to an agreement with the trade unions over workers' salaries.
NS cancels all trains in the Netherlands on August 30
With NS workers planning industrial action in the central regions of the Netherlands from 4am on Tuesday, August 30 to 4am on Wednesday, August 31, the rail operator announced on Monday afternoon that the strikes in and around Utrecht would have “far-reaching consequences” for train travel across the Netherlands, and therefore took the decision to cancel practically all services for the entirety of Tuesday.
“On previous strike days, we have made every effort to provide a reliable and responsible timetable around the strike areas,” NS said in a press release. “For Tuesday's announced strike, all scenarios have been on the table, but we see no possibility to run a timetable in a responsible manner… We find it extremely annoying that travellers are suffering so much from the impact of the strikes.”
NS’ decision means that, on August 30, only a limited number of services will be running. Trains will run every 15 minutes between Schiphol Airport and Amsterdam, and regional operators such as Arriva will also be running, as will Thalys and Eurostar services.
Government minister calls on unions and NS to resolve dispute quickly
Vivianne Heijnen, the State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management, called on NS and Dutch trade unions to resolve their dispute quickly and effectively. "The impact of the NS strike today is extremely annoying for all train passengers. I previously called on the unions and NS to come to a solution together and in the interest of the passenger; I am now making that call again," Heijnen tweeted.
Travellers’ organisation Rover has also criticised NS, complaining that the announcement about the effect of Tuesday’s strike came too late for travellers. Speaking to NOS, Rover chief Freek Bos questioned whether it was really necessary for trains in the northern and southern parts of the country to be cancelled as a result of a strike in Utrecht.
Dutch train strike's impact on transportation in the Netherlands
The Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB) has raised concerns about the effects of Tuesday’s strikes, warning drivers that roads in the Netherlands would be significantly more crowded. Taking to Twitter, the ANWB told commuters that the morning and evening rush hour “may be busier than usual.” At 7.30am on Tuesday, there were already 118 kilometres of traffic jams in the Netherlands.
Similarly, the German bus operator FlixBus has seen a huge spike in interest in their national services, telling AT5 that “the number of bookings for FlixBus trips in the Netherlands has grown considerably.” They expect a significant increase in the number of passengers on Tuesday, and other public transport operators are also expected to be busier than usual.