Utrecht commuters frustrated, not shocked by train delays

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Some commuters at Utrecht Centraal waited over four hours for train service to resume on Monday, after a technical failure brought all Dutch Railways (NS) service to a standstill at Utrecht’s main train hub. Trains have started running again, but the connections are limited, says a statement released by NS around 13:35 on Monday. Passengers can expect a 30- to 60-minute delay to their journey, says the NS. It remains unknown when the schedule will return to normal. Most stranded passengers the NL Times spoke with expressed frustration, but few were shocked. "I'm from France and this doesn't happen. I can't understand why this always happens so frequently. It's ridiculous," said a schoolteacher who was missing her lessons in Den Bosch. Some of the hardest hit were students. "I go to school in Amsterdam," said university student Wencke Hecker, who waited at the station from 7:45 a.m. until midday. "I missed my morning lessons and a group meeting for a project." Her classmate, Chloe Monhemuis, was in a similar situation. "My class is almost over. But I can't go there and I can't go home because the trains aren't leaving to either place. I had an important test today," she said.

Two business management students were travelling from home in Den Bosch to university in Amsterdam. "It's an important course and it's our first day," said Remco Baars. "We're missing three classes, but the teachers understand," said Kaan Ates. "This happens all the time. The trains are always late. This is the extreme. But NS has a monopoly so there's nothing we can do. That's the problem." "Dutch people are happy, so no one really gets angry," added Baars. One less happy person, who waited at the station from 8 a.m. to midday, is Said Muhamad. He was travelling from his home in Arnhem to Haarlem when his train was stopped in Utrecht. "I'm doing temporary work to help a business with a deadline,” said Muhamad. "They're relying on me. I'm waiting here and getting no money." He continued: "I'm feeling helpless and desperate. And cold, very cold. But this happens all the time, and they're not fixing the problem. And there's no one here to blame, so I can't even get angry." Passengers could be seen flocking to station retailers to keep warm and pass the time. "The line was out the door," said a Starbucks employee named Majoleine. "But people aren't taking it out on us, which is nice." NS did not encounter too many problems with dissatisfied passengers, according to one staff member. "They don't blame us, they're used to it. But this is the second time a problem this big has happened this year, and that's not good," an NS employee told NL Times. While some passengers were worried about missing important appointments, others were simply bored. "I've been here since 8 a.m.," said Sander Ariaansz. "My computer's dead so there's nothing to do," he said laughing. "There's piano playing so it's not too bad." Ariaansz referred to the musician who for several hours kept passengers entertained on the station's public piano. Exchange students travelling to Eindhoven for their first day in the Netherlands had been waiting at the station since 9:00 a.m. "We haven't got phones yet. And we're missing orientation," said Jolene Ng and Russel Chew. "It's OK, people in the station have been really helpful."

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