NS Reizigers has announced a package of measures to improve punctuality that will require the investment of an additional 50m guilders a year. Punctuality figures have not been published for several years, and some consumers’ organisations believe that on-time performance has dropped as low as 50% on some routes during peak periods. The current NS passengers’ charter requires at least 87% of services to run within 3min of booked time at principal stations along their route.

To lessen one possible cause of delay, fewer trains will divide or couple up en route, running at their full length over the entire course of the journey throughout the day. Fewer train crews will switch between services in the course of their working day, and where this practice continues more time will be allowed for crew changes.

More reserve train crews will be provided, particularly for services connecting the Randstad conurbation with Enschede, Groningen and Leeuwarden. At Utrecht, Amersfoort and Zwolle, where these services divide and combine, additional rolling stock maintenance staff are to be provided to deal with minor defects. Extra platform staff will also be on hand to assist passengers and hopefully enable them to make quicker connections.

Other measures include a simpler timetable for 1998-99, despite the fact that 5% more trains will be run, and the creation of more regional centres to provide passenger information. Elsewhere on the railway, efforts will be made to improve the timekeeping of NS Cargo services, avoid the over-running of track possessions and review regulations governing how signalling personnel deal with delays, disruption and possessions.

  • According to Transport Minister Annemarie Jorritsma, NS passenger traffic was expected to grow by 6% in 1997, with ’a cautious estimate’ suggesting 4% growth this year. Around the end of last year proposals for rail regulation beyond 2000 were to be laid before parliament, which is also to consider a bill to introduce morning-peak road pricing in 2001 between Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Haag and Utrecht. o