On 2 January, a DDZ train derailed in The Hague. In the incident, a guard and one passenger were slightly injured, and the tracks were seriously damaged. On 22 May, a collision took place at a level crossing near Hooghalen; a terrible accident in which a train driver died. This was a shocking event, first and foremost for the victim's relatives and close colleagues. Both events have been thoroughly investigated, and improvement measures are being taken. NS has once again urged the State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management to take measures at all uncontrolled level crossings as soon as possible.
The investigation into the derailment in The Hague revealed that the accident was caused by an exceptional combination of factors. The investigation report has been shared with the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate, the Dutch Safety Board and the Ministry for Infrastructure and Water Management. Based on the findings, NS has taken a range of measures to guarantee the safety of passengers and staff. For example, the maintenance regime and the monitoring of the shoe brake system have been modified, and internally we will take steps to further strengthen our safety culture.
DDZ trains decommissioned
On 3 December, NS decommissioned all 49 DDZ trains for an indefinite period of time. This decision was motivated by the results of a study into unstable behaviour of DDZ rolling stock when operated at high speeds. NS is currently conducting follow-up studies.
Signals passed at danger (SPAD)
In 2020, a total of 32 SPAD incidents were registered, though none occurred at high speed (over 40 km/h). This number is lower than in 2019 (58). Of these 32 incidents, 21 took place within the Remote-Controlled Area (CBG) (2019: 38). In 5 cases this involved a train reaching a ‘danger point’, such as a switch (2019: 8). NS strives to reduce high-speed SPADs to zero and has taken various measures to achieve that. It is difficult however to determine the extent to which the decrease can be attributed to the reduced timetable and the introduction of the ORBIT train safety system.
Five-year trend in SPADs within Remote-Controlled Area
ORBIT has now been installed in 70% of all trains. The system warns drivers when they are approaching a red signal too fast, and can prevent SPADs. In 2020, NS also started installing ORBIT in the Flirt and SNG rolling stock series. This project is scheduled for completion in the course of 2021. By then, 90% of our rolling stock will have ORBIT.
In 2020, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, NS and ProRail discussed the issue of added functionality in STM ATB, a system that uses transponders between the rails to gather and transmit train data. NS and ProRail together supplied analyses and substantiated case studies. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management is now assessing these in the relevant policy context with a view to adding the functionality concerned.
In 2017, NS decided in principle to impose a stricter braking criterion (technically enforcing more powerful braking when approaching a red signal) in IC rolling stock, starting with VIRM rolling stock. The conversion of VIRM to a more stringent braking criterion is currently in progress as scheduled. So far, half of all VIRM trains have been converted.
In recent years, we have carried out a qualitative study into the impact of new ICT tools in the cabin on the driver's workload and concentration. In 2020, we used the recommendations from the study to set up a driver's workload monitoring programme. We will also continue the Fit-to-Drive programme, which focuses on promoting awareness among train drivers of their fitness to drive.