25 April 2023, by Victoria Séveno
According to a letter written by the Dutch State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management Vivianne Heijnen, Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) could introduce changes to their pricing system after 2024, meaning passengers could pay more to travel on certain routes or during rush hour.
Dutch government looking to renew contract with NS
While the current contract with NS expires at the end of 2024, the Dutch government intends for the company to continue to operate as the main rail provider in the Netherlands between 2025 and 2033. In order for this to happen, however, new agreements need to be made between the public transport operator and the cabinet.
However, with NS facing reduced passenger numbers and severe staff shortages after the coronavirus pandemic, and amidst rising operation costs and demands from workers for increased salaries, both NS and the Dutch government are looking for ways to fund the future of the national rail network.
According to Heijnen, these issues have “led to a financial shortfall that requires solutions.” She, therefore, tells Parliament that the government and NS need to look at how the timetable can be adjusted to fit changing demands.
NS might raise ticket prices for certain trains after 2024
As part of these plans, it’s possible that NS could look to implement a number of changes to their timetables and pricing plans from 2025. These changes could, for example, include charging passengers extra for travelling on busy routes or rush hour services. According to NOS, these changes could help to reduce crowds during peak hours, while the money generated from these higher prices could be invested in improving the availability of services on the busiest routes.
Travellers’ organisation Rover has already expressed frustration with the options currently on the table. “The climate and housing crisis requires that the use of trains and buses should increase. Chasing travellers out of rush hours causes the opposite,” Rover chief Freek Bos told NOS. “Paying more for less is the beginning of a downward spiral for the train,” he argued, adding that the government should stop “the demolition of public transport” and instead focus on increasing passenger numbers.
Heijnen has emphasised that more research is needed before a decision can be made, but she is set to present a final plan to the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) by the autumn.
Thumb: Ajdin Kamber via Shutterstock.com.
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