NS tickets more expensive over the counter
6 January 2004
AMSTERDAM — Following the 4 percent average price rise introduced on 1 January, Dutch rail operator NS has revealed that in future train tickets bought over the counter will cost EUR 0.50 more than those paid for at automated machines.
The price rise will take affect from 1 March and the NS said a maximum of EUR 1 will be charged per transaction.
The NS said the price rise only applied to easy-to-purchase tickets such as one-way or return tickets. Other tickets, such as season tickets and complicated returns via other stations, will not be subject to the additional charge.
It is hoped that the extra charge will prompt more people to buy their tickets from automated machines. About 40 percent of people buy their tickets over the counter and 80 percent of these transactions are simple one-way or return tickets.
The NS claims that if it does not need to staff the help desks as intensively as what it does now, a greater number of employers can be used to assist people in stations and on platforms, an NOS news report said.
The elderly and handicapped can gain an exemption from the charge. The elderly must be above the age of 60 and be able to produce identification at the counter.
Handicapped people can obtain from the NS a special pass for their assistant and will thus have the right to take their assistant on the train without having to purchase an additional ticket. They will also obtain an exemption from the EUR 0.50 charge.
An exception will also be made for handicapped people who can travel alone, but cannot buy a ticket from an automated machine.
But consumer groups aligned in the organisation Levoc remain opposed to the additional charge and have placed several demands that the NS must fulfill. The NS has rejected the demands.
Levoc has demanded that the NS refrain from charging the price rise if an automated machine is out of order, but the NS only intends to do so even if all the automated machines at a station are not working.
The move comes after train ticket prices rose by an average of 4 percent at the start of the year when the NS introduced its annual price rise. The rail operator has also warned ticket prices might rise a second time this year if it meets punctuality targets.
The NS has attracted much criticism in recent years for delays and continued attempts to raise ticket prices. Punctuality, however, has improved since the disaster year of 2001.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news