NS: No commitment to guaranteed rush hour seating in €3 billion plan

Train platform at Utrecht Central Station (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Sebastiaan ter Burg)Train platform at Utrecht Central Station (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Sebastiaan ter Burg)

Dutch railways NS is partly stopping with the operation of station stores and providing bus transportation. Instead the company will be focusing on train transport and is pushing 3 billion euros into new trains and improved service, according to the company's new strategy. The strategy does not, however, guarantee a seat for every passenger in rush hour, ANP reports.

The new strategy was presented on Tuesday.

NS wants to reduce hinder caused by lack of trains and make the journey as comfortable as possible, CEO Roger van Boxtel said. But, he added, it is unrealistic to think that the problem with overcrowded trains can be solved over night. "We can not empty a crowded train all at once. We do not suddenly have new trains", he said.

"The right to a seat during rush hour does not exist and it never will. If everyone wants to travel with the train at the same time, you run the risk that it is awfully full", Van Boxtel said. "You have the right to transport, and not necessarily a seat."

NS wants to hand over the operation of their own station stores like Smullers and De Broodzaak to market parties. "We do not need to own all the retail ourselves", Van Boxtel said. "We keep control of the quality of the shops." The company expects that the about 4,600 people currently working in stores in railway stations, will be able to keep their jobs once other parties take over.

The company will keep the Kiosk chain, the seating areas and catering in the trains "because these are directly connected with the passenger and thus are core activities."

NS also plans to eventually say goodbye to subsidiary Qbuzz.

Instead NS will be focusing on the trains and train transport. The company is putting 2.5 billion euros into renewing their trains. Almost a third of the existing fleet will be replaced or renewed. Another 300 million euros will be invested into innovations in the fields of travel information, better WiFi on trains and at stations and better payment methods. At the end of this year, new types of smaller trains will be added to the fleet. In a few years time there will also be new intercity trains. The intention is to have all material completely in order by 2023.

Between this year and 2020 NS is also investing 300 million euros into provisions at stations, such as parking lots and Kiosk-stores.