Wasp not up to speed as new trains grind to a halt

One of the new trains in Rotterdam. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Just eight out of 99 new high speed trains ordered by Dutch railway company NS in 2016 are currently in use, and those that are in service have been beset by technical problems, the AD has reported.

The Intercity New Generation train, nicknamed “the wasp” is the successor to the Fyra high speed train, which was itself plagued by failures.

In total 16 of the 99 state-of-the-art trains ordered from Polish manufacturers Alstom have been delivered so far, half of which are being used to train drivers and technicians and half of which are in regular service. The coronavirus pandemic is one of the reasons for the slow delivery, the AD said.

But the new trains, which have led lighting, wider aisles, and usb ports for passengers, have also been hit by software problems, such as internal doors that won’t open, and software failures that, for example, suggest there are problems with the brakes.

The problems are causing delays – in one case it took 3.5 hours to get 300 passengers from Rotterdam to Schiphol airport – and cancellations, the AD said.

Alstom’s customer director Hans Blaauw said the problems are part of normal “teething problems” besetting the introduction of any new train. “Every country has a different rail system and we adapt out trains to the local demands,” he told the AD.

The high-speed link is one of the most complex parts of the European rail infrastructure, making the design of a suitable train very complicated, he said.

NS programme manager Maarten Bakker called the problems “extremely frustrating”. “But it’s a very good and fine-looking train which the NS and its passengers have been waiting for for a long time,” he said.

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