Back on track: train schedule resumed after massive outage across the Netherlands

Dutchies found themselves stranded at stations as train traffic in the Netherlands was brought to a standstill yesterday. This was due to a malfunction in the internal communication network used by traffic control.

The train schedule is back to normal today with more answers expected from NS as to what went wrong yesterday, according to the NOS.

What happened?

Train traffic was suspended for much of yesterday afternoon due to a failure in the communication network for drivers and traffic control — scary! Driver’s use this system to inform traffic control which part of the track they’re on. This is so that no other train will be on that part of the track at the same time.

Disruptions to train travel began at 2.40 PM yesterday. For safety reasons, trains that were already at platforms stopped running. Trains that were still in transit had to crawl to the closest station.

The malfunction resulted in travellers being stranded at stations all over the country.

The NS was gradually able to start running trains again from 16.00 PM yesterday. They increased the schedule to at least one train per hour on each route to make up for the lost time. Nevertheless, travellers were inconvenienced by this throughout the evening.

The outage also affected the regional train services, Arriva and Keolis.

Will this happen again?

According to Coen van Kranenburg, the spokesperson for ProRail, the GSM-R network as this traffic control system is known, is usually very reliable. He told the NOS that this system “rarely breaks down”. He says that while there are sometimes “little hiccups”, he has never experienced such a major failure before. 

Nevertheless, this system is scheduled to be upgraded in a few years. The system is based on mobile phone technology which was specifically developed for the railways. This GSM-R network is used throughout Europe to ensure that trains can safely travel into other countries.

According to Van Kranenburg, another “major failure is unlikely in the short term.”

It’s unknown exactly what caused the outage, but more information and answers are expected later today.

Where you travelling by train yesterday? What was your experience of the disruption? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature image: 2427999/Pixabay 

Jen Lorimer 🇿🇼
An avid tea drinker, Jen was born and raised in Zimbabwe. She moved to Utrecht in 2017 to pursue her history degree. She loves people-watching, canoeing the Utrecht canals, and observing how the Dutch come alive in summer. Having been traumatised by a Dutch circle party, Jen wants to help equip other internationals with tips and tricks to survive and thrive in this wonderful flat country.

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