Wednesday 28 July 2021

Train drivers on failing high speed line demand more training

A Dutch high speed train. Photo: Alfenaar via Wikimedia Commons

Train drivers on the Dutch HSL high speed train route say they are not getting enough training and are threatening to strike if the NS does not act, the AD reported on Thursday.

The 400 train drivers currently employed on the HSL say their lack of adequate training is increasing the number of malfunctions on the Amsterdam to Antwerp route. Currently there are up to 10 breakdowns a week.

This means the reliability of the HSL stands at 82%, which is below the legal standard. Other train services have a 92% reliability rate.

The reason for the malfunctions is a not yet identified problem with the train’s software and, according to the drivers, a multitude of voltage and safety systems which they are ill-equipped to handle.

Now the FNV train drivers union has drawn up a manifesto, which has been signed by 1,200 people and will be handed over to the NS on Friday. It calls for better training and a monitor on the trains.

‘The NS has the world’s best drivers but they are given too little time to master the intricacies of the high speed line. And once they drive the train, the support they get is often far below par,’ union official Henri Janssen told the paper.

The NS said it is taking the complaints of the drivers seriously. ‘Everything they say can be done to improve the situation will be taken into consideration,’ a spokesman said. ‘We have a help desk in place and a team of people to help on the ground. But the uncertainty among drivers shows how complex the line is. Not everything has been properly installed.’

The FNV said strike action may be on the cards if the NS does not listen to the drivers.

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