New intercity trains are even longer in coming

NOS Newstoday, 12:48

It will take longer before the first new intercity trains start running. The intention was that the trainsets of the Intercity New Generation (ICNG) would be deployed on the Amsterdam-Breda route this year in dribs and drabs. But that will definitely not work, the NS writes in a letter to State Secretary Heijnen (Infrastructure and Water Management).

The quality and reliability of the equipment is not yet up to par. The intention is now to start driving with passengers for the first time in the second quarter of next year, in April, May or June. But there are still risks of new setbacks, warns the railway company.

The ICNG, which has already been nicknamed ‘the wasp’, must cope with the increasing number of train passengers and replace the old intercity trains. In 2016, 80 of them were ordered from the French train manufacturer Alstom. They have a top speed of 200 kilometers per hour and will also be used on the HSL route, as a replacement for the Fyra trains. They turned out to be so unreliable that they were returned to the builder in Italy.

Weld quality

The first new trainsets have now arrived in the Netherlands and are being tested in full, without passengers. In March it turned out that the welding quality of some of the trains does not meet the requirements. According to NS, a software update in June solved a number of teething problems, but it also led to new start-up problems and even train strandings.

In addition, there are various production and delivery problems, partly due to the corona pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

These problems must first be solved before the trains can be used on the HSL route between Amsterdam and Breda. NS thinks it is still possible to replace all rolling stock on that line with the new intercity trains before the end of next year. After that, it will be the turn of the rest of the main rail network, starting with the The Hague-Eindhoven route.

State Secretary Heijnen writes to the House of Representatives that she regrets that travelers have to wait longer to board the new intercity trains. She has externally assessed whether the planning that NS is currently using is realistic.

The new train was proudly presented in July:

NS shows new intercity, ‘train for the next 30 years’

Her letter also addresses the staff shortages at NS, which has resulted in major cuts in the timetable. NS has informed the State Secretary that it sees “a substantial improvement in the recruitment” of personnel. Nevertheless, there are still vacancies for approximately 580 conductors and 340 train drivers.

Longer trains again

As of tomorrow, NS will be using slightly longer trains on a number of routes, which will slightly increase the chance of a seat for travelers next year. Heijen expects NS to do everything it can to prevent further cuts in the timetable.

“However, NS indicates that there is still a chance that – despite the measures taken – the deficit will increase further in 2023, and in that case it may again be necessary to make further adjustments,” the State Secretary writes in her letter to the House.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: intercity trains longer coming