26 September 2023

NETHERLANDS: Call for more powers to curb train violence

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State-owned Dutch train operator, Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) has urged the Government to give it more powers to combat aggression on trains after incidents involving physical or verbal violence increased by 30 per cent in 2022.

Last year some 965 incidents of aggressive behaviour by train travellers were reported, up by more than 200 in 2021.

Most of the reports concerned threatening behaviour or physical attacks on staff, but violent incidents between train travellers also increased.

The NS said most aggressive behaviour occurred when travellers were asked to respect the rules or show their tickets.

The operator, which transports hundreds of thousands of people a day, said the increase was unacceptable and asked the Government to allow NS security staff to carry out identity checks “to help police, avoid escalation and make people answer for their behaviour”.

An NS spokesperson said the increase in violence was not simply a matter of there being more post-pandemic travellers.

“During and after the pandemic we saw, and are still seeing, more verbally abusive and short-tempered people,” the spokesperson said.

“We are confronted more often by people who are caught out without a ticket and then become physically violent.”

Minister for Social Affairs and Employment, Wouter Koolmees said the figures had shocked him.

“Society is becoming rougher and that is increasingly leading to aggression towards my colleagues, but also the police and other services,” Mr Koolmees said.

He said the NS was taking action to combat the problem, including closing down entry gates at trouble spots and even deploying security staff with dogs.

“However, as a public transport service we cannot tackle this on our own.”

The Hague, 20 February 2023

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