New Generation Intercity
Early June 2020 saw the first New Generation Intercity test train being taken into operation for test runs in the Netherlands. These fast single-decker trains (maximum speed 200 km/h) are suitable both for the high-speed line and the main rail network. In total, NS ordered 79 trains of this type, providing 25,000 seats. These trains offer a range of conveniences for passengers, including wheelchair-accessible toilets, Wi-Fi, journey information displays, LED lighting with Intelligent Light Control, USB and electricity sockets both in 1st and 2nd class, retractable steps for improved accessibility, comfortable seats and extra baggage space.
Following a test period abroad, Alstom, ProRail and NS started the test, admission and training phases for these trains and their staff in the Netherlands. The objective is to ensure the safe introduction of this new generation of trains for our passengers. Due in part to the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting closure of manufacturing plants and national borders, both the testing schedule and building schedule for these trains have been adapted. We are doing everything we can do introduce the New Generation intercity trains in the regular schedule from the end of 2021.
The first of these trains will be deployed on the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Breda route currently served by IC Direct trains. The The Hague-Eindhoven route will follow in the subsequent phase. In the future, NS also intends to use these new Intercity trains on a new direct rail connection from Breda and Rotterdam, via Amsterdam-Zuid to Zwolle, Leeuwarden, Assen and Groningen in the north of the country. This is part of our plans to increase the number of destinations that benefit from direct connections within the high-speed line. For a subsequent phase, we have already ordered a series of 20 Intercity trains that can be operated on the route to Brussels as well as on the domestic network.
New generation of double-decker trains with improved accessibility
In April 2020, NS launched a European tendering procedure for a new generation of double-decker trains with improved accessibility and suitable for speeds of up to 160 km/h. NS is interested in a train type that includes both single and double-decker carriages and is able to fill the need for both high capacity and excellent accessibility. The trains are meant to replace older trains, such as the double-decker trains of the DDZ model, which will reach the end of their service life within a few years. This will also enable us to meet our need for double-decker trains in the longer run.
The process of purchasing a new train takes around seven years in all, which is why NS decided to launch the tendering procedure this year. The basic order is for a capacity of around 30,000 seats with several options for additional orders, plus the option of ordering similar trains for cross-border services. After the first phase of the tendering procedure, a final decision will be made as to the exact scope of the order. NS intends to sign the contract with the supplier at some point in 2022. According to current insights, this means that the first trains of this type will be taken into operation in 2027.
Upgrading Intercity trains
Up to and including 2020, NS has upgraded a total of 80 double-decker trains (VIRMm1, comprising 415 carriages) by installing comfortable seats, modern lighting, charging points for mobile equipment (1st class) and art. All upgraded trains have since been taken into operation. The Haarlem workshop has now begun upgrading 45 double-decker trains of the VIRM2/3 type. This involves 242 carriages with 24,500 seats. The first upgraded trains from this series will start running in 2021.
New Sprinter trains
The first of the 206 new Sprinters (type SNG) ordered from Spanish train manufacturer CAF started running on 9 December 2018. There are now over a hundred of these Sprinter trains in operation in the Dutch rail network. The new Sprinter trains have everything it takes to ensure a pleasant and comfortable journey. They are transparent, open, attractive and energy-efficient, featuring Wi-Fi, wheelchair-accessible toilets, wall sockets, USB connections, leather seats, areas designated for bicycles and a floor-level entrance.
Upgraded Sprinter trains
NS has by now upgraded more than half of its 131 SLT trains. The upgraded Sprinter trains feature wheelchair-accessible toilets, retractable steps, two designated sites for wheelchairs, a special emergency button, as well as tactile information for the visually impaired. We expect to complete the SLT upgrading project by the end of 2021.