No NS trains in Drenthe, Friesland, & Groningen tomorrow due to strike; Int'l trains impacted Friday
Due to the 24-hour strike by NS railway workers on Wednesday, virtually no NS trains can run in the provinces of Drenthe, Friesland, and Groningen, and parts of Flevoland and Overijssel, the Dutch railway said. Replacement bus services will not be arranged during the strike, which is expected to begin at 4 a.m.
"We advise our passengers to, from and within this region to choose alternative transport or to postpone their journey. No alternative bus transport can be utilized. In the rest of the country, we expect to be able to operate according to the usual timetable as much as possible," according to the NS.
Nevertheless, the rail company said it cannot rule out "unexpected disruption for travelers in the rest of the country tomorrow." The NS is trying to run a number of trains to and from the cities of Groningen and Leeuwarden, where possible. "We advise travelers to consult the Travel Planner shortly before departure," the NS said. Their online guide will be updated over the course of the evening and early morning.
Trains from the other train carriers will run according to their timetables on Wednesday. "We regret that the actions will have an impact on our travelers," the company said in its statement. The NS is expected to return to a normal timetable across the country on Thursday.
An ultimatum that the unions had issued to NS recently expired. They rejected a final offer from the public transport company, because it did not come close enough to their demands. One of the collective labor agreement requirements is automatic compensation for price increases in the salary of NS employees. They also want a one-off payment of 600 euros and an adjustment to the scheme to stop working earlier.
However, the NS stated that the company is dealing with a tight labor market, rising prices and lagging passenger numbers. "We see sufficient starting points to resume the conversation for a good collective labor agreement for our colleagues and are happy to discuss this further with the trade unions." The NS said it will not go to court to prevent Wednesday's strike in the north of the Netherlands. Legal proceedings will only begin if a strike endangers passenger safety, such as if the result of a strike would cause many travellers to crowd at stations following a large event. That will not be the case on Wednesday, a spokesperson said.
In addition to the strike in the north of the Netherlands, more actions will follow the coming days. The unions will go on strike in the west of the country on 26 August. Three days later, the strikes will continue in the northwest region. On 30 August, personnel will strike in the center of the country, and in the east and south of the Netherlands the following day.
"The strike in the west on Friday will also affect international train traffic," said Roos Rahimi of labor union FNV. NS staff will stop working at the stations in Dordrecht, Leiden, The Hague, Rotterdam and Leidschendam, she said.
The NS does not yet know what the affect of the strike will be on Friday. This will be announced at a later date. "NS is currently looking at what the impact of this will be on train traffic and our passengers. As soon as we have more information about this, we will inform the travelers about it," the company stated. For now, the rail company is focusing on Wednesday's strike in the north of the Netherlands, a spokesperson said.
Infrastructure State Secretary Vivianne Heijnen called on the NS and the trade unions to try to break out of the impasse regarding a new collective labor agreement as quickly as possible. She made this known in reaction to the announced strikes by railway employees.
"Shutting down the trains is really bad for passengers, and a bad statement for public transport. We will need public transport badly in the coming years and for this it is important that the train remains an attractive and reliable mode of travel. The announced strike is a matter between employer and employees, but I call on NS and the unions to work it out together as soon as possible," said Heijnen.
Reporting by ANP