Train engineer “under the influence” at time of emergency stop

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No image availableNL Times

An NS train engineer that made an emergency stop in a tunnel in Nijverdal on Liberation Day, was "under the influence" when he did so, AD reports after speaking to NS.

"He violated our zero tolerance policy that applies to alcohol and drugs", NS spokesperson Corien Koetsier said to the newspaper. Due to privacy, she would not say under the influence of what. But sources from within the company told AD that the engineer was using cocaine.

The train coming to a standstill inside a tunnel led to a fair amount of panic. Emergency services, fire trucks and several police systems were called in. The automatic fire alarm in the tunnel was triggered. Travelers were evacuated from the train. According to NS, the safety of the passengers was never in danger.

"The driver was unwell. If that happens, the security systems step in, and the train is put automatically to a stop", Koetsier said. She could not explain why NS reported the stop as a "technical failure". "It is possible that we only later found out that he was unwell."

According to AD, NS workers are calling that the periodic train drivers' inspection be expanded to include a drug test. But Koetsier states that drug tests are currently not possible in the medical testing. NS employees can be tested for drugs if they are suspected of using. Alcohol consumption tests are regularly done. Koetsier could not comment on how often such tests leads to dismissal. "in recent months, no one tested positive. In recent years I cannot recall someone being fired."

A spokesperson for train staff union VVMC told the newspaper that this is an isolated event and definitely not part of a bigger problem. "This case we do not know, but train drivers feel very responsible. I haven't heard about a driver working under the influence of drugs."