Coronavirus decimates train travel but there will be more services next year


Despite the fall in the number of travellers caused by the coronavirus crisis, Dutch rail infrastructure company ProRail is expecting an increase in the number of services in 2021.

Next year railway companies plan to add nearly 2,800 more services – for both goods and passenger trains – taking the total up to 2,172,187.

This means more trains on the tracks, ProRail said, including an additional train between Groningen and Leeuwarden and a night train from Amsterdam to Vienna.

‘These new services have to be scheduled in in such a way that they don’t clash with other services,’ ProRail spokesman Sybren Hazenberg told broadcaster NOS. The new schedule also means existing services will operate faster, Hazenberg said.

The number of train users fell to around 10% of normal occupancy at one point during the coronavirus crisis and now stands at 40%.  However, scheduling in fewer services is not an option, ProRail said. ‘That would be a step back, and if life returns to normal we will need these trains more than ever.’

However, fewer travellers may lead to shorter passenger trains, regional operator Arriva told NOS.

Another reason why services cannot be cut is the fact that relatively small changes have big consequences when dividing up rail capacity, Hazenberg said. ‘We work for years on this and the schedule for 2022 is almost done. We are even planning as far ahead as 2040.’

The new timetables will be published at the end of this year.

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