Dutch rail traffic shut down over train control telephone outage; Limited restart could begin at 7 p.m.
This story was updated as more information became available.
Most train traffic in the Netherlands ground to a halt on Thursday evening due to a telecommunications failure at the traffic control posts, national Dutch railway NS confirmed on its website. The failure with the telephone system meant that "very limited train traffic is currently possible," NS said just before 6 p.m.
"Due to a telephone outage, we cannot reliably communicate with the drivers on the trains. As a result, train traffic in the country has come to a standstill," said railroad infrastructure firm ProRail.
The complete disruption lasted about an hour, when some trains could begin moving again. The resumption of the train schedule was expected to happen gradually, causing delays through the evenings, ProRail said. The organization and NS both advised passengers not to travel Thursday night if possible, and to pay close attention to online travel planners before going to a train station.
Several people took to social media platforms to express their disappointment with the shutdown. "Haven't been on a train in a year and a half. How I didn't miss this," said NRC journalist Bart Funnekotter on Twitter.
Ga je voor het eerst sinds anderhalf jaar weer eens met de trein, wordt ‘ie halverwege de reis geëvacueerd 🤭 pic.twitter.com/yDJQ7mgOCp— Raymond Mens (@raymondmens) September 16, 2021
In that case, the dedicated wireless network, GSM-R, failed. The system, known as Global System for Mobile Communications - Railway, is used across Europe. The network was designed exclusively for the railways using 3G mobile phone technology, which also allows trains to transmit data about speed and location.
At the time of the May incident, Coen van Kranenburg of ProRail said that brief interruptions happened from time to time, but never such a major failure of the GSM-R system. "It is an incredibly stable network, with which there are rarely problems and which rarely breaks down," he told NOS.
Back in May, ProRail said that communication between train controllers and engineers is "essential for a safe timetable."