Train must cope with snow, NS told
5 January 2006
AMSTERDAM — Six consumer groups have demanded action to stop train services in the Netherlands grinding to a halt every time there is severe winter weather.
Lessons learned from previous extreme winters are not being applied, and this results in trains letting the public down, the groups said in a letter on Thursday.
The letter was sent to the Transport Ministry, Dutch train company NS and network manager ProRail to demand an explanation for the travel chaos caused on 30 December.
NS warned at the time services would be suspended in many parts of the country from 4pm due to snow storms and low temperatures. Hundreds of passengers were stranded at stations.
The letter was signed by passenger group Rover, automobile association ANWB, the council for people with disabilities or chronic illness CG-Raad, senior citizens group CSO and cyclist federation Fietsersbond.
The groups said switching points on the tracks were being let freeze in bad weather when they should be heated, train are not designed to withstand the snow and emergency plans are not implemented to ensure essential services are maintained.
Measures must be agreed, the letter said, to minimise these problems and agreements are needed on emergency accommodation for stranded passengers.
The criticism comes at a bad time for the NS, as it was revealed on Wednesday it missed its punctuality target for 2005.
The train company blamed the poor performance on three serious derailments at Amsterdam Central Station, coupled with a day-long computer failure at ProRail and regular maintenance work on the tracks.
Passengers will face frequent delays again this year due to more maintenance work planned by ProRail. The work is usually carried out in the weekends.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news