Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 12:49
Poor communication cause of February train chaos
The utter chaos on the railway between The Hague and Rotterdam in February was caused by unprecedented poor communication from railway manager ProRail. This is evident from two studies done by TNO and the Inspectorate for Environment and Transport (ILT). These studies further found that no one understood what was going on, because terms were used that does not exist. Additionally it has long been clear that for dangerous exchanges had to be replaced. On February 19th the evening rush hour in the Randstad went completely haywire because the track between the Hague and Rotterdam was shut down. Excessive wear was established at three exchanges. Another was out of date and should have been renewed long since. ProRail called it an "exceptional situation" as explanation. Research done by TNO showed that it was actually an accumulation of errors and miscommunication. The service on the exchange to the Hague was postponed due to impending renovation of the entire railway in the Hague. In March 2013 an employee of ProRail wrongly judged that one of the exchanges in question only needed to be replaced in 2015. This should have been done immediately. The problem was only fixed when stricter control was used in the night of February 18th. Four points and two tracks were closed down for service and replacement the next day at 18:00 pm. Unlike the central traffic control in Utrecht, no one in the regional knew what was going on. Rumors were spread as traffic controllers broke the rules and called each other. No one understood procedures issued by ProRail as "warning" and "red flag with delay" because they do not exist. State Secretary of Infrastructure Wilma Mansveld said to the Second Chamber that ProRail acknowledges their fault. The company promises to train their staff more intensively on the following of the proper procedures.