NS to stay out of the way of violence

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Aggressive train passengers will have free rein from next year, according to the Telegraaf.

11 December 2007

AMSTERDAM - Aggressive train passengers will have free rein from next year, the Telegraaf reports. The NS is urging personnel in a confidential letter to avoid aggressive passengers since conductors will no longer be able to arrest fare dodgers come 1 January.

Commuters' organisation Rover is furious. "Cowardice," says the spokesperson for the organisation. "This means that if you are big and muscled, you don't need to buy a train ticket. If you are not, then you're the fall guy. That is unacceptable of course."

In the confidential letter the NS management warns on board personnel that they must be careful in using force next year. The conductors will no longer be protected by their position since they will no longer have the authority to use necessary force.

After 1 January conductors may only write tickets. They will no longer be permitted to arrest an aggressive passenger, using appropriate force. The NS management points out to the conductors that they will be at risk if they attempt such actions.

If a passenger becomes aggressive or a fare dodger refuses to pay a fine, then the conductors must call in the help of mobile teams. These teams may take action, but they are only based at the 20 largest stations.

The unions are also very concerned about the safety of the passengers and personnel. "Will this mobile team get there on time when a conductor calls for help? I am concerned about that," says the director of the FNV trade union confederation.

Spokesperson for the NS Michiel Jonker says safety will in fact improve because the mobile teams are better trained in dealing with aggressive passengers and will be on site sooner when called.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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