NS has been fined 1.5 million for reducing the timetable. And what happens after the recent train disruption?

State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management Vivian Heijn imposed a maximum fine of 1.5 million euros on NS. The rail operator had reduced the timetable against all agreements. The condition of the 274 million euros in support after the drop in passenger numbers during Corona was that the timetable would be maintained. And it was not so. This begs the question, what happens after the recent train disruptions in and around Amsterdam?

Fines should be a beneficial measure for commuters

The purpose of government support was to compensate for the losses incurred by the NS. It is noteworthy that a destination has been named for the higher penalty amount. They need to channel it into something that benefits the passenger. Passengers organization Rover believes NS should give passengers a say in the cost of that fine.

Fine due to cancellation of train in second half of 2022

The period for which NS is now being held accountable by Heijnen relates to the second half of 2022. Due to staff shortages, the company was unable to provide normal services for train passengers. Trains were overcrowded and cancellations were high. In addition, voyages often took longer. Since then, NS has been working to address the staff shortage. After the introduction of the new timetable in December last year, it now seems to be working. The ministry speaks of a “cautiously encouraging sign”.

Fine on pro rail too

In addition to NS, ProRail was also fined a hefty 100,000 Euros. This was because passengers on the high-speed line between Schiphol and Antwerp faced too many delays. But Heijnen blames NS partly for this. According to RTL Z’s calculations, the 10 biggest NS events added together would have delayed more than 1 million minutes in 2022. Converted, this is 695 days. Main reason: Strikes of public transport workers. In October 2022, it hotline,

What will be the next penalty for NS…?

The last time NS was fined in 2017. Whether NS will also be fined after the massive disruption on 4 and 5 June 2023, which meant that trains to and from Amsterdam and the surrounding area were not running for almost 1 day, is a matter for open question. No alternative transport or sleeping space was arranged for the many stranded passengers. Coincidentally, the concert by Harry Styles took place in those days at the Johan Cruijff Arena with visitors from all over the country. hotline Passenger organization questions Rover.

Penalty has to do with one-time subsidy, not with concession to NS

“It’s not the same situation,” says Frank Visser, rover policy officer. “Usually, NS is judged on so-called performance indicators. There are 11 of them in total. For example: train timings, delays and enough available seats. Then they look at the average of the whole 1 year to see if Is it completed. Otherwise there will be a fine.” These performance indicators are included in the concession (permit) that the government issues to NS.

“But the 2022 fine has nothing to do with this concession, but with subsidies to compensate for the post-corona shortfall.” Extreme train disruption in Amsterdam after Harry Styles could push back the annual average of indicators over 2023 and fines at the end of the year. This type of error is more common. To avoid future fines, NS will probably have to run a little faster to compensate for disruptions with better days. That possibility is always there.

What does this mean for travelers and visitors to Harry Styles?

There is a service article on the Rover site which shows what rights passengers who (after Harry Styles) were no longer able to travel have. Everything appears to be possible, such as money back, replacement transportation or even a place to sleep. “It depends on when you checked in with your public transportation card or whether you bought your e-ticket before the outage,” Visser says. But consequential damages such as unused concert tickets are not reimbursed as per the law.

“Replacement transport or hotel arrangements must be made in consultation with Dutch Railways, otherwise no compensation will be given,” says Visser. In the face of these extraordinary malfunctions, Rover has called on NS to exercise maximum leniency. “Because with so many stranded passengers, such consultation is certainly not possible.”

Overcrowded trains: back on track

(Source: Rover, ANP, NS, RTL Z. Photo: ANP)

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