Major maintenance on the runway: how will travellers spend the summer?

The Dutch railway network is in urgent need of a major overhaul. Major renovations are underway, especially at Amersfoort station. From this summer, passengers should be aware of the enormous work being done by the railway operator ProRail.

Why is the Dutch rail network being addressed now?

It is an unwritten law that the railway network must be thoroughly overhauled once every forty years. That time has already come. Waiting is not an option because safety systems are becoming obsolete, wear and tear is occurring and modern timetables are placing greater demands on the railway network.

It sounds like major surgery.

It is indeed. According to ProRail, which is responsible for the condition of the track, around 400 large and small works are to be carried out on the track throughout the Netherlands. For example, around 700 kilometres of cable are to be replaced, employees of the railway administrator are to install dozens of new switches and five kilometres of new rails are to be laid, for example on the extension of the so-called Pon line between Amersfoort and Leusden. Safety systems also have to be adapted and modernised. On average, 670 people work on the track every 24 hours between 6 July and 18 August.

This summer, work is being carried out on the track in several locations.Image Bart Friso

Will the works be completed after August 18?

In some areas of Amersfoort station, the majority of the work still needs to be done at national level. ProRail expects to spend six years renovating the entire Dutch railway network.

Why is the road not only worked on at night and during off-peak hours?

This is done as much as possible, but this operation is too extensive to deploy work teams only in quiet times. The shortage of staff also plays a role.

Where is the greatest disruption expected?

In the coming period, this will mainly develop around Amersfoort Centraal. Especially on the west side of this important station for NS and ProRail, the tracks and the safety system have reached the end of their service life. On both sides of the station there are cables that are more than sixty years old and urgently need to be replaced. Therefore, there will be no train traffic to, from and beyond Amersfoort between Saturday 13 and Sunday 28 July. ProRail also expects this station to be inaccessible to travellers for some time at the end of the summer.

Irritating. Several major employers are located around Amersfoort Central Station.

Heartbeat. Amersfoort is centrally located. For this reason, large companies such as Arcadis, Royal HaskoningDHV and VolkerWessels have large offices in Amersfoort. The dairy giant FrieslandCampina has its headquarters near Amersfoort CS. “In principle, not much has changed. Since the corona virus, people are mostly working from home and that remains the case,” says a spokesperson for the dairy cooperative. “We ask our staff to only come to the office if they have to work together. If they all came, that would be 2,000 employees. But that never happens. On a very busy day there are 1,000 people, but on many days it is quiet with dozens or a few hundred employees. In any case, occupancy is very low during the Christmas season. Then you can fire a cannon. In that respect, the timing of the NS was well chosen.”

Are there travel alternatives?

The Dutch railways offer “detour routes” and use buses. It is worth keeping a close eye on the well-known travel planners throughout the summer.

What does major maintenance of Dutch railways ultimately bring?

According to ProRail, there is scope for “improving punctuality, availability, safety and sustainability”. There will also be less chance of disruptions in the future. If there is, a faster recovery is possible, the railway director hopes.

Read also:

ProRail begins the largest work ever carried out on the railway network: delays until 2030

The rail network is in need of a major upgrade. Travellers will have to deal with the inconvenience for the next six years.

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