In response to the growing number of complaints about overcrowded trains to the Northern Netherlands, Dutch travel association Rover is calling for the NS to provide longer trains from Zwolle to Groningen, Assen and Leeuwarden.
Frank Visser, a representative of Rover, says that the group has seen a noticeable increase in complaints about overcrowded trains in recent months, according to RTV Drenthe. Visser says that the solution is for the Dutch Railways (NS) to provide longer trains on the Zwolle-Groningen and Zwolle-Leeuwarden routes.
“The trains are relatively short on these routes, which in itself is quite understandable if you are transporting people to the North,” says Visser. “But we feel that the models used by the Dutch Railways to plan the trains no longer suffice. If there is an unexpected peak, that will cause problems.”
Visser says that the issue of overcrowding has a growing issue for quite some time. “Due to economic growth, we are dealing with more travellers than before,” Visser says. “We have received quite a few complaints about these routes, so it seems that we have reached a tipping point.”
The seating problems seem to have gotten worse even during traditional non-peak travel months like April, which has prompted Rover to sound the alarm. But according to the NS, the large number of complaints in April is not an indication of a structural issue: the NS attributes the overcrowded trains to works being carried out at Leiden Central station. “As a result, the trains ran for three weeks according to an adjusted timetable, and that was also noticeable in the north,” says NS spokeswoman Anita Boonstra.
Boonstra also questions the assertion that the trains are actually overcrowded, suggesting that perhaps travellers failed to find all the available seats due to boarding at the very back of the train. Nevertheless, Boonstra says that the NS will strive to better inform and guide passengers at stations in the future to avoid such issues. “We are developing an app that indicates where there are empty seats on the trains,” Boonstra says. NS is also conducting research on the effects of disruptions on the number of passengers on the trains.