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Staff shortages at ProRail disrupt the service. For example, due to a shortage of traffic controllers, there were no intercity trains between Amsterdam and Amersfoort until 11 p.m. on Friday.
ProRail expects the lack of air traffic controllers to cause problems until at least October. Travelers organization Rover has been informed about the expected problems.
The company has been dealing with a shortage of air traffic controllers for some time. This makes it difficult to complete the schedules and, according to the rail manager, a single cancellation can ensure that fewer trains run.
Earlier in the week, staff shortages also made themselves felt and there were no ICs on the Utrecht-Arnhem, Ede Wageningen-Barneveld South and Utrecht Central-Rhenen routes in the night from Thursday to Friday. According to Rover, people are currently filling in at posts in Roosendaal, Kijfhoek (South Holland) and Utrecht, where there would be a lot of shortage in the roster.
ProRail confirms that there will be “an extra challenge” until 1 October due to holiday leave in combination with the understaffing at the traffic control posts. “Of course we will do everything we can to prevent it.”
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Retirees back to work to fill shortfalls
ProRail is trying to tackle the problems, among other things, by temporarily deploying recently retired people and train traffic controllers who now work elsewhere in the organization at locations where they are badly needed. The recruitment and selection budget is also almost eight times higher this year compared to 2018.
“Our train traffic controllers have been doing everything they can to fill the rosters for some time now. They regularly even come to work on a day off if someone unexpectedly calls in sick. That is why we are doing everything we can to continue their summer holidays. At the same time, our colleagues are doing everything they can to prevent train failures as much as possible,” according to the rail manager.
Rover believes that the working method of the railway company should be made less vulnerable. “It is impossible to explain to the traveler that if someone breaks down, train traffic comes to a halt,” says director Freek Bos. “That requires a fundamentally different design of the systems, in which the transport of travelers must come first.”
As far as the passenger organization is concerned, ProRail must “do everything possible” to limit nuisance on the track. For example, in the event of timetable problems, fewer trains would have to run, instead of a route coming to a complete standstill.“Rover understands that the traffic control staff are currently providing maximum flexibility where necessary and greatly appreciates this.”
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