NS boss understands that many people find train tickets too expensive

“It is true that train tickets in the Netherlands are relatively expensive. In other countries the taxpayer helps pay, but in the Netherlands only the people who buy a ticket,” says Koolmees. He reports that train tickets have become more expensive since 2020 because prices are rising with inflation. In addition, NS is faced with higher costs for personnel and equipment, among other things.

The NS previously worked on a so-called rate differentiation, whereby travelers pay more during rush hour than people who travel at less busy times. The intention was that people would travel more often during off-peak hours and less during rush hour, in order to spread out the crowds. This measure, also known as the rush hour charge, attracted a lot of criticism. Koolmees says that the railways are looking for another solution to make train travel more affordable.

As far as Koolmees is concerned, the rush hour charge is off the table. He says that the NS made a wrong assessment when coming up with this. “We had devised a system in which 80 percent of the tickets would become cheaper during off-peak hours. To finance this, we had devised the rush hour charge. But we have found that there is no support for this.” According to him, it remains important to spread travelers better over the day because of the crowds. However, the number of travelers is still lower than before the corona pandemic, he reports.

Climate ticket
The former Minister of Social Affairs (D66), who succeeded Marjan Rintel after her departure to KLM, would consider the introduction of a ‘climate ticket’ a good idea to make train travel more affordable. With such a ticket, people can travel unlimited outside rush hour for a lower price. Something like this already exists in the form of a Dal Vrij subscription, but should be brought onto the market more cheaply with government support.

The idea behind the climate ticket is that the train becomes a more sustainable and cheaper alternative to, for example, a petrol car. GroenLinks-PvdA and D66 have included the climate ticket in their election manifestos. The NS wants politicians to also look at how train travel can remain affordable.