NS employees faced 30 percent more incidents of violence on the trains and in the train stations last year. In most cases, a traveler reacted violently after an NS employee addressed them on the house rules or tried to check their ticket, NS said. The Dutch rail company asked the government to let it check troublemakers’ identities. “The sooner you know what you have in front of you, the less quickly a situation can get out of hand,” the company said.
NS employees faced violence and aggression 965 times last year, up from 744 incidents in 2021. They were threatened 349 times, physically assaulted 256 times, and spat on 181 times. Most incidents, 605, happened at the train stations, the others on the train.
CEO Wouter Koolmees is horrified by some travelers’ behavior. Whenever he speaks to conductors, security officers, train drivers, cleaners, service employees, and retail workers on the stations, he is always surprised by how often the conversation turns to “social safety, de-escalation, and preventing violence,” he said.
“The stories I hear are sometimes harrowing,” Koolmees said. “I find it reprehensible that the hardening society increasingly leads to aggression towards my colleagues. I can never and will never accept that. I, therefore, call on everyone: leave my colleagues alone!”
NS has taken multiple measures to fight these problems, including watching surveillance footage live in trains on problem routes and introducing a new app to help NS employees issue fines more quickly. The live surveillance will be expanded to all trains this year.
“At some locations, NS was forced to take drastic measures.” The rail company closed an entrance at Nijmegen station because the gates were often misused. NS deployed security guards with dogs at Weert, Rotterdam Central, and Amsterdam Central and implemented permanent entry checks at Maarheeze station.
But the increase in violence shows that these measures are not enough. “NS wants to be able to check the identity of perpetrators of violence,” the company said. But despite commitments by the government to give authorized NS security workers access to the Driving License Register, the introduction has again been postponed. The rail company would also like more police at the stations.