Dutch trains (again) among the most punctual in the world
According to the Dutch rail infrastructure manager, ProRail, trains in the Netherlands have never been so punctual before. Last year 91,4% of passengers arrived on time, compared to 90,5% in 2017. The achievement keeps the Netherlands in the global top three of rail countries alongside Japan and Switzerland.
The contrast with Belgium is striking. The figures released by Belgian rail company, NMBS/SNCB, and Infrabel, the infrastructure manager, for January-November 2018 show that the punctuality of Belgian trains has once again deteriorated.
Regional lines score high
The regional lines in particular, which had to contend with far fewer failures than a year earlier, performed particularly well in the Netherlands with a punctuality rate of 94,6% (93,9% in the previous year). In 2018, the high-speed lines suffered from software problems, causing the degree of punctuality drop slightly (82,7%). This is a fraction above the minimum limit of 82,5% imposed by The Hague.
The number of major disruptions also fell by 10% in 2018, from 627 to 558, as a result of which trains stood less still than in 2017.
Rush hours remain difficult in Belgium
In Belgium, NMBS/SNCB can apparently only dream of such record figures. Over the first eleven months of 2017, an average of 88,5% of trains arrived on time, meaning that they were less than six minutes late on arrival.
Especially the trains in the evening rush hour (84,4% compared to 85,2% in 2017) score badly. Also passengers who jumped on the train in the morning, arrived more often with a delay in 2018 (87,9% to 85,2% compared to 2017), although the punctuality did improve slightly in October and November.
NMBS/SNCB responsible one in three
The cause of the delays lies in 33% of the cases with NMBS/SNCB and about 24% with Infrabel. Other causes, such as people walking along railway tracks, cable theft, personal accidents, etc. are the biggest bogeyman with 37%.
To achieve the high level of punctuality, ProRail keeps special teams on standby on the busiest sections to intervene quickly in the event of a breakdown. The rail manager has also made agreements with contractors to resolve incidents more quickly.
That’s the spirit
It is an anecdote, but perhaps NMBS/SNCB can also learn something form the Japanese obsession with punctuality. In May last year, there was an ‘incident’ on a train from JR West, one of the major railway companies in Japan, that prompted a flurry of high-level apologies.
The misdemeanor in question? The express train from the centrally located city Notogawa to the coastal town of Akashi had left the stations 25 seconds too early. A customer missed his train because of this. An unforgivable mistake, admitted the spokespersons of JR West and the staff would be trained to avoid a repetition.
Anyway, it must sound like music to the affected NMBS/SNCB’s passenger’s ears.