The Dutch railway company NS has announced that it will reduce the peak hour surcharge to a maximum of €2.50, down from the previously proposed €4, the Algemeen Dagblad reports today. The surcharge will apply to trains in the Randstad, the Netherlands’ most populous region, during the busiest hours.
NS CEO Wouter Koolmees visits The Hague Monday to gain parliamentary approval for the controversial fee. The reduced surcharge is viewed as an attempt by the company to appease critics of the original proposal, who argued that it would disproportionately impact low-income workers and students who are unable to avoid traveling during peak times.
Impact on low-income workers and students
A significant majority of political parties, including VVD, GroenLinks/PvdA, D66, CDA, PVV, SP, and ChristenUnie, are in favor of scrapping the peak hour surcharge. Many individuals, including teachers, cleaners, and nurses, cannot avoid traveling during peak hours, they say. “Dutch public transport is already one of the most expensive in Europe,” VVD member Fahid Minhas points out. “We shouldn’t add a peak hour surcharge on top of that.”
Under the new proposal, passengers traveling in the Randstad area during the morning peak (8:00-8:30 a.m.) will pay a surcharge of €2.50. Passengers traveling in the evening peak (5:00-5:30 p.m.) will pay a surcharge of €2.
NS claims that the reduced surcharge will help reduce overcrowding on trains during peak times. The company also says that it will use the revenue from the surcharge to reduce the cost of other train tickets.
Second chamber has final say
The new proposal is still subject to approval by the parliament.
The reduced peak surcharge is a significant concession by NS. The company had faced strong opposition to the original proposal, and it is clear that it is concerned about the potential impact on its image and customer satisfaction.
The government has said that it is open to further changes to the proposed concession, and it is possible that the surcharge could be reduced further or even scrapped altogether.
Last month, the cabinet approved a plan by the Dutch Railways to charge higher fares for train travel during peak hours starting from 2026. The surcharge, which was expected to be up to 20% higher than regular fares, was designed to encourage passengers to travel during off-peak hours and reduce overcrowding on trains during peak times.