Electrical outlets in the main hall of Groningen Central Station can no longer be used by the public. NS is hoping the measure will discourage homeless people from camping out in the station.
Translation by Traci White
Corien Koetsier, a spokesperson for the Dutch national rail company NS, told RTV Noord that the outlets were originally meant to be used during events at the station. NOS reports that the outlets previously had locked covers over them, but Koetsier says “the covers were taken off by vandals and we have noticed that homeless people have been making use of them.”
Reportedly, a group of homeless people often wait outside the station in the morning in order to get inside and charge their phones. Koetsier says that the situation has left NS staff at the station feeling unsafe.
Straatwijs, a Groningen foundation focused on homeless, has expressed alarm and frustration at the move. Siebe Zwerver of Straatwijs says, “Electricity is extremely important for homeless people because they can charge their phones, and a cell phone is a basic necessity if you are homeless. They make it possible to keep in touch with help organisations, or family and friends.” Koetsier says that is not NS’s job.
Straatwijs also says that they have gotten complaints from homeless people that the heating in the station has also been turned down. Koetsier confirms that is true, but says that is just because spring is on the way and is not connected to trying to discourage homeless people from staying at the station.
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