12 March 2022, by Victoria Séveno
Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) has announced plans to gradually return to its regular timetable over the coming weeks, as the company is no longer suffering from a shortage of staff as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Dutch rail operator no longer facing severe staff shortages
At the beginning of February, as the Netherlands faced the peak of the new Omicron variant, NS announced it would switch to a reduced timetable for the foreseeable future. The company said the change was to combat severe staff shortages, with many train drivers, conductors, and technicians on sick leave after testing positive or in isolation after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Now, just over a month later, the rail operator has unveiled its plan for gradually scaling up train services in the Netherlands. “Now that the peak of the Omicron variant is behind us, fewer and fewer colleagues are at home due to illness or quarantine,” NS announced in a press release this week. “As a result, we will be able to run almost all trains again in the second half of March.”
Almost all trains to be running from March 21
From March 14, all Intercity trains between Utrecht and The Hague, as well as between Utrecht and Rotterdam, will be running as usual. Then, from March 21, almost all remaining services will be back at full capacity, with the exception of the so-called 10-minute trains.
NS launched a new schedule at the start of the year which was designed to ensure that trains would run between major Dutch cities and train stations every 10 minutes. These services were cut, resulting in only four trains running every hour instead of the intended six. From the beginning of April, all services will be back up and running as usual.