Rail works to cause many more problems for train passengers next year

Train travelers can expect even more delays, detours, and longer travel times caused by railworks next year. ProRail has even more major rail works planned for next year than this year, and due to staff shortages, some of it will have to happen outside the school holidays, RTL Nieuws reports.

This year, ProRail had 40 major railworks projects where the tracks couldn’t be used for three weekdays or longer. Next year, there will be 41. That comes on top of the general maintenance and rail work ProRail performs during the weekend.

This year, ProRail had 875 of these service closures. Next year, ProRail expects 1,280, an increase of 46 percent.

ProRail tries to carry out major rail works at times when it is quiet on the track to cause as little inconvenience as possible. Significant projects are, therefore, usually scheduled for the school holidays.

However, that won’t be possible next year. The rail manager and its contractors do not have enough staff to get everything done during the school holidays, so track closures will happen during busy periods, too. “That is why rail contractors are now also working outside the periods of low passenger demand,” a ProRail spokesperson told NOS.

Track work during busier daytime hours will mostly happen in the northeast of the country, where weekday track closures will cause less significant traffic jams than in the busier areas. According to the current plans, Leeuwarden will be most affected, with major works scheduled for the tracks there outside the summer vacation.

Many of the projects cannot be delayed, like bolstering embankments, fixing cracked rails, and installing more signals to increase railroad capacity. At the same time, ProRail faces labor shortages in the sector. “We need staff for all those jobs and that is difficult to find, especially at night and during the holidays,” a spokesperson for ProRail said to NOS. “But at the same time we are carrying out much more work than before; about 40 percent more than ten years ago.”

ProRail acknowledged that the rail works will require some extra patience from rail passengers, but it stressed that not all extra nuisances on the tracks are caused by maintenance work. For example, large events like the Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort this past weekend force rail providers to deploy extra trains on certain routes.

This ultimately has consequences for the timetable in the rest of the country.

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