Train passengers in the Randstad recently had to swallow a bitter pill. Not only did train disruptions disrupt their plans, but some later found out they were financially disadvantaged. The Society for Better Public Transport has burn letter asked the Dutch Railways (NS) for an explanation, and demanded that the NS automatically refund the debited deposit to the accounts of affected travelers.
On October 3 last, many travelers waited in vain on the platform, with the result that many canceled their journey. However, upon access to the platform, the NS had already debited deposits of €10 or €20 from their OV chip card or bank account. The Society for Better Public Transport believes this practice is unjustified, because the NS failed to provide adequate train service. Moreover, many travelers do not even notice that their deposit has been debited, especially if they have enabled the 'automatic charge' option.
In a response to the urgent letter addressed to Eelco Van Asch (NS Board of Directors) and Marieke Schöningh (Chief Operational Officer Prorail), who took office on October 1, NS informed the Company for Better Public Transport that passengers, as usual in the event of any disruption, , can contact customer service for possible reimbursement. However, the interest group does not believe this is enough and insists that NS refund the deposit on its own initiative. The NS states that complaints can always be handled via customer service, but the Society for Better Public Transport argues that this is not sufficient, especially because many people with 'automatic charging' do not even notice the debit.
The disruptions that affected travelers were not only limited to connections to, from and via Schiphol. Almost the entire Randstad had to deal with canceled or seriously delayed train services. This increases the urgency for the NS to take action, not only to restore the reliability of their services, but also to regain the trust of their travelers.
This incident also exposes a broader, structural problem. The lack of transparency and automatic compensation mechanisms in the Dutch public transport system. Travelers are often unaware of their rights and options to claim compensation, resulting in inconvenience and financial disadvantage. The urgent letter from the Society for Better Public Transport underlines the need for NS and other carriers to be more proactive and transparent in their communication and reimbursement policy.