'Security' is chief concern of Dutch Railways
On a train journey through the Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands one experiences - in the first three countries - efficient service, and the conductor is friendly. In Belgium the ticket office is closed but one is told a ticket can be purchased on the train, at no extra cost. Upon arrival in the Netherlands the situation changes. Two snarling conductors who check tickets fine a Japanese girl 35 euros. The girl is in tears but the conductors show no mercy. "You should know the rules!" she
Dutch Railways, NS, has come under attack in recent years for poor service. Passengers constantly face delays because the train has broken down or there are problems on the track. Trains are often overcrowded and dirty and there are many complaints of poor service. However there is one area in which public transport in general and trains in particular excel, and that is a growing interest in cracking down on fare dodgers. Enormous resources are devoted to ensuring that passengers without a valid ticket are fined. Security is also a concern and the NS is establishing its own security agency.
NS announced on Wednesday that it will install cameras on all new trains. Older trains will be fitted with cameras when they come up for renovation. The 99 Sprinters that will be delivered at the end of the year will be the first trains with video monitoring.
In April, NS announced that conductors will receive handcuffs and a truncheon. They will also be allowed to search fare dodgers who are not in possession of an identity card. Not all of the railway's 3,200 conductors will be allowed to search passengers. NS has established Service and Security Teams, conductors who are specially trained to deal with unruly passengers. So far 300 conductors have been trained; the Service and Security force will eventually number 600. The railway will soon equip members of the Service and Security Teams with handcuffs for a trial period. (Photo above left: Interior Dutch train (c) Bvankuik - Wikimedia)
Ending reliance on police
NS says it has established the Service and Security Teams to end its reliance on the police. Every year NS calls for police assistance 8,000 times, usually to deal with a passenger without a valid ticket and no identity card. Since police often have more important things to do than deal with fare dodgers conductors often have to let the matter rest. NS sees this as an "injustice" and also hopes the new teams will end its
reliance on the police.
The Service and Security Teams will also help deal with the 6,400 cases of misbehaviour or vandalism on trains each year. In addition, there are around 600 serious incidents annually.
29 May 2008
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]