The Dutch Railways will start a test this week with new trains on the route around Schiphol. As a result, the conductor loses an important function: the doors are closed by the driver. This is helped by extra cameras and a series of technical gadgets.
The modified train will be tested every Tuesday and Wednesday from next Tuesday on the Amsterdam Central-Hoofddorp route. Passengers will not notice much immediately, the NS expects. The sprinter looks the same, except for extra cameras and sensors. But the new technology has serious consequences for the staff. The driver has an overview of all doors from the cab and closes them on time.
This has been extensively tested recently. For example, if something gets stuck between the doors, they will open again immediately. This technique is not new, but it is refined and now also responds if, for example, a dog leash is in between. That has been tested with plush animals and volunteers. Now it’s time to test with real travelers for the first time.
Save one minute
With the new technology, NS hopes to gain one minute per train. That is exactly enough to increase the number of trains to eight per hour in a few years’ time; one every 7.5 minutes on the same platform. And that is necessary in the preparation for the large-scale work that is planned around 2025 at Amsterdam Central. The platforms will then be widened, so that fewer trains can stop. The Intercity Direct then stops at Amsterdam Zuid, instead of Central. By driving more efficiently with the sprinters, NS hopes that passengers will be less bothered by the work.
The conductor remains necessary as chief of the train and acts in case of calamities. But its main task is to provide service
The conductor can omit his whistle and is only there for service. Conductors still close all doors before departure, except for the one they are in. They check again if everything is safe and then also close the last door. In the Airport Shuttle, that step is skipped, which should save 12 seconds per station.
That could be a prelude to a future without conductors, which would save the Railways a lot of staff. But that is not the intention of the test, according to NS spokesperson Carola Belderbos. “That is not the case at the moment. The conductor remains necessary as chief of the train and acts in case of calamities. His main task is to provide service. On the route at Schiphol, many foreign tourists travel with questions, which we will continue to help.”
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