NS was unprepared for nationwide malfunction in April, underestimated the problem
NS was unprepared for a long-term national technical malfunction when such a failure occurred on Sunday, April 3, the Institute for Safety and Crisis Management (COT) concluded after an investigation. The rail company had no plan for deploying alternative transport and underestimated the problem on the day itself.
The technical malfunction shut down train traffic almost all day on Sunday, April 3. NS said that it was impossible to deploy alternative transport due to the magnitude of the problems.
Communication to travelers and its own staff on the day of the disruption did not go well, according to the COT. The COT advised NS to work out scenarios for a major technical failure, with options such as a shuttle service between stations.
NS did not have such a solution prepared and hardly considered it on April 3 “partly because the prognosis was that the systems would be available again soon,” the COT said. The institute believes that NS “can be expected” to have considered the consequences of a significant national disruption “so that a decision can be made on the day itself based on one or more scenarios.”
The shutdown of all train traffic on that Sunday was ultimately “inevitable,” The COT concluded. The shutdown itself “went well.” The decision to not run trains that evening meant that the timetable could largely be restarted the following day.
NS said that it would adopt the COT’s recommendations. Bert Groenewegen, acting president of NS, said that the organization made “a bad turn” with travelers in April. “They had to wait a long time before it became clear how long the disruption would last and that they eventually had to arrange transport themselves.” He called it “important” to learn from the outage “to avoid a similar situation in the future.”
“The traveler can expect NS to use the results of these evaluations to improve its services in the future in the event of disruptions,” said responsible State Secretary Vivianne Heijnen in a letter to parliament accompanying the investigation.
The State Secretary is pleased that NS plans to use the researchers’ recommendations to do better in the future. She said she is in talks with NS and railway manager ProRail to prevent disruptions as much as possible and, if that fails, to limit the impact on passengers.
Reporting by ANP