NETHERLANDS: National passenger operator NS suspended all services on April 3 following problems with its resource allocation and operations planning software.

The problems emerged around 12.00, when NS issued an advisory warning that all trains would be halted for ‘at least’ 5 h because of an unspecified technical problem. It advised passengers to find alternative ways of travelling, but did not offer any suggestions or implement any replacement bus connections. Some regional trains were still running, NS added, but it was not possible to give accurate schedules for them. ‘We are working hard on a recovery but, alas, we cannot now say how long this situation will persist’, the operator told local media.


Around 19.00, NS confirmed that ‘the cause of the failure has now been resolved’. However, due to the ‘enormous impact of the failure in the IT system’, it was ‘unfortunately’ not possible to run any trains for the rest of the day, other than a handful of international and overnight trains. Admitting that this was ‘extremely unpleasant news’ for passengers, NS explained that the total suspension of services would allow it to reposition rolling stock ready for a resumption of normal operations the following morning.

According to NS, the IT failure at the end of the morning had affected ‘the system that generates up-to-date schedules for trains and staff’, which it insisted was ‘important for safe and scheduled operations’. The software normally adjusts train diagramming and crew rostering automatically in the event of any incident on the network, but this was ‘not possible due to the failure’.

NS said its journey planner had been amended to reflect the withdrawal of all of its services. Passengers seeking to use trains run by other operators were referred to those companies’ own websites.