Tuesday 21 March 2023

Northern train services cancelled in first of five regional strikes over pay

Photo: Depositphotos

Only a handful of trains are running in the northern provinces after unions called out NS staff on a 24-hour strike.

The train operator said it hoped to run some trains to and from Groningen and Leeuwarden on Wednesday, but all other services in Drenthe, Groningen and Friesland are suspended until 4am on Thursday.

The strike will also affect some trains in Flevoland and Overijssel. NS said it had been unable to arrange alternative bus transport and advised passengers to consult its online journey planner for updates.

Local services run by other operators, Arriva and Keolis, are running as normal.

The strike is the first of five called by the FNV, VVMC and CNV unions after negotiations on an improved pay deal broke down.

On Friday staff in the west, including The Hague and Rotterdam, will walk out for 24 hours and further regional strikes are scheduled next week.

‘It’s obviously a pity that passengers will be affected,’ FNV chairman Tuur Elzinga told NOS. ‘But NS staff are fighting a battle against a cost of living crisis that is hitting all of us very hard.’

The unions are demanding a €100 a month pay rise for all NS staff as well as a one-off €600 bonus, but the company says it is still struggling to recover from the coronavirus lockdowns, when passenger numbers fell sharply, and the recent rise in costs.

NS said its strike compensation rules will apply, meaning passengers whose journeys are disrupted can claim up to €25 towards the cost of alternative travel. More details are available on its website.

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