Dutch Railways orders new trains for €150 million

Dutch Railways NS will order ten more Intercity trains, New Generation, on top of the 99 already ordered earlier. The order involves an investment of over 150 million euros.

Public transport in the Netherlands is still less popular than it was before the Covid-19 health crisis, yet increasing crowding is noticeable – 15.5% more people checked in last year than a year earlier – bringing back the ‘sardine in the can’ feeling for many commuters, especially during rush hours.

Several years ago, NS ordered 99 Intercity New Generation trains (ICNG) from Alstom, a single-deck transit intended for the intercity network to replace older rolling stock. With a top speed of 200 kph, it is faster than current trains (160 kph), and the ICNG, nicknamed ‘the wasp’, should also enter service during 2024 as an Intercity Brussels – also known as a Benelux train or Amsterdammer.

Delivery delay

Due to delivery problems with materials – Belgian NMBS/SNCB also faced delays in the delivery of M7 coaches from the French rolling stock manufacturer – NS has received only 16 examples of the ICNG.

Those first new intercity trains also exhibited various growing pains on the tracks, including unjustified brake applications, but still, the NS has confidence in the new trains, which are primarily intended as the successor to the Fray on the high-speed line and, therefore, also run to Belgium.

By 2026, the last of these ICNG transits will be delivered by the latest. Alstom has been asked to make the additional trains suitable for running to and from Germany. In total, this involves an order of more than 1.1 billion euros.

NS had ordered new trains from Alstom and booked an order with the Spanish company CAF for 60 new double-deckers, the first of which would be on the tracks in 2028. In 2022, it also launched a tender for new sprinters. The preferred bidder is expected to be announced this year, with the new trains scheduled to enter service in 2029 or 2030.

Public transport is on the rise again

That these new trains are desperately needed is evident from the Central Bureau of Statistics figures on the use of public transport in the Netherlands. Last year, no less than 1.1 billion people checked in on a train, bus, streetcar, or metro. That is 15.5% more often than in 2022.

Still, the number of check-ins is not yet at the level before the health crisis. In 2019, for example, nearly 1.3 billion people checked in on public transportation.

People especially travel less on public transportation during the week than in 2019, a trend attributed to telecommuting. In contrast, people check in more often on weekends.

Yet this increase in crowding is causing a problem for travelers. Especially during rush hour, commuters often sit on trains like sardines in cans. Due to a lack of equipment and staff and changed travel behavior – people work from home on fixed days – crowding is problem number one in public transportation.

NS recently announced a new timetable. It will take effect in 2025 and should provide 1,600 more weekly trains to handle crowds. Or, to put it with NS’s motto: ‘Just a little more patience’.

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