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Train drivers slam 'unsafe' decision to increase station speeds

Monday 14 January 2013

Plans to increase the speed at which trains are allowed to drive through stations where they are not stopping are 'a danger to life', railway unions said on Monday.

At the moment trains must reduce speeds to 40 kph when approaching most stations, but ProRail plans to increase this to 80 kph in Arnhem. The speed limit has already been increased to 60 kph in Utrecht and Eindhoven.

The unease under engine drivers has been increased by an official report into last April's crash close to Amsterdam's central station. The report by the national safety council slammed lax approaches to safety at both the NS and ProRail as well as at the railway inspectorate.

New system

'The Dutch railway system is like a banana republic with a nuclear power plant,' one driver is quoted as saying by the Volkskrant. 'We are ploughing on with prestige projects to run more trains with fewer delays but no-one is checking how safe this all is.'

The two state-owned rail companies - NS, which operates passenger services and ProRail, which runs the tracks - said in a joint statement they take safety very seriously. The Netherlands is in the process of moving to the new European rail safety system ERTMS, which has been designed to deal with fast trains in dense networks, the Volkskrant pointed out.

The aim of allowing trains to pass through stations at higher speeds is to reduce the number of track changes, reducing the number of trains using the same track and therefore improving safety, the rail firms say.

'If we always drive according to the schedule, there would never be an accident,' one driver told the paper. 'The danger arises when a couple of trains are delayed. Then all the stops are pulled out to get the timetable back on track.'


Last April, 190 people were injured and an elderly woman died when an intercity and a local train ploughed into each other just minutes away from Amsterdam's central station.

Both trains were on the same track because work was being carried out on the tracks and the local train driver drove through a red light.

The official report into the crash said the two rail companies operated ‘risky’ timetables with insufficient margins for error.

Earlier stories
Rail companies criticised for risky timetables in official crash report
Missed red light probably caused Utrecht train near miss

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

Hey great idea! Next they'll want to put the trams into bike lines to compete with the scooters that go zipping by.

Who are these law makers and do they ever go outside? It makes one wonder it's either they're sheltered or have no common sense whatsoever. Which one is it?!?

By Jimbo | 14 January 2013 8:52 AM

I'd also be concerned about the greater draft of the faster trains. Passengers can be sucked from the platforms into the passing train if their too close to the edge. And with crowded platforms, it's not trivial to stay away from the edge.

By H. | 14 January 2013 9:29 AM

'The danger arises when a couple of trains are delayed.'

Leave 'em alone, let them be late(r), cut them down to lowest priority to maintain the schedule. Or cancel them altogether as needed. The Fyra way.

By Puck | 14 January 2013 9:32 AM

Management from the bottom up! Is this the way our society should be working? Thank goodness somebody stood up and spoke out for our general safety.

By B | 14 January 2013 9:32 AM

Just make the commute even slower, please. Anyway, who needs to get to work on time...

By phantom | 14 January 2013 9:55 AM

How about increasing the speed outside stations? Try taking the train to Germany and it literally crawls all the way to the border at 100kph before finally accelerating. England was running the 125mph about thirty years ago... try and keep up.

By Simon Terry | 14 January 2013 11:48 AM

I was at Sloterdijk one busy evening when a freight train, came through higher than the 40kmh limit, the whole platform started to shake, So i think they should not increase the speed limits.

By Martin Treadgold | 14 January 2013 12:45 PM

Speeds through the stations are the problem. Leave the limits as they are and increase speeds between the stations. Also no one seems to monitor tram speeds in Amsterdam those drivers are unsafe in my opinion.

By tim | 14 January 2013 4:21 PM

Several things missing from the article:

- higher through speeds are for tracks that don't pass close to platforms

- there is now way a train air draft can "suck in" a passenger beyond the safety line with speeds that aren't even 200km/h

- cutting the propagation of delays is a smart strategy on crowded networks. It sucks for those affected (since delays will be longer), but it avoids making EVERYONE else late

By A.L. | 14 January 2013 8:20 PM

"Better late than dead."

By The visitor | 14 January 2013 10:54 PM

@tim: trains are not like cars that can just speed up with ease, especially freight trains.

By A.L. | 15 January 2013 7:17 AM

A.L., I completely agree with you!

By GGG | 15 January 2013 8:23 AM

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