Railway: Dutch universities need to adapt schedules around rush hour

Crowded train (Picture: Twitter/@michellekroekie)Crowded train (Picture: Twitter/@michellekroekie)

NS wants Dutch universities to adapt their schedules so that students can travel outside rush hour. This should help relieve the pressure on overcrowded trains. And according to NS CEO Roger van Boxtel, many universities are willing to be flexible about this.

Van Boxtel came up with this suggestion about 4 months ago, but received no support from politics or the education world. Nevertheless, he decided to push through and approach the universities themselves. "And the educational institutions offer a helping hand." he said to De Stentor. "We love students as much as our other customers, but we are looking into whether we can spread them out."

According to Van Boxtel, a number of universities are willing to help. The University of Utrecht, for example, is looking into changing the rosters for first-year students, who often still live at home. The university is also considering incentives for students traveling outside rush hour, like a free cup of coffee or extra discount, Marieke de Bakker, head of student counselling at the university, explained to the newspaper.

"I've already been to Nijmigen. Next week I'm going to the University of Leiden, and I'm still talking in Amsterdam", Van Boxtel said. "It mainly concerns the busiest nodes. But the universities of Groningen and Enschede already said that they are flexible. This will really help in crowded trains."

If all goes as Van Boxtel hopes, the new start later end later timetables will be implemented from the 2016/2017 academic year. A total of 650 thousand students in the Netherlands have a public transport card. During rush hour they account for over a third of all passengers.