ProRail's train traffic control is struggling with a serious staff shortage, which means that trains are sometimes unable to run, as happened again this week. The main cause of the shortage is the recent wave of pensions at the railway manager, in combination with a lack of new staff. ProRail should have seen the departure of traffic controllers in particular, according to the FNV Spoor trade union. "We have been saying this for six years," says driver Henri Janssen.

Several train traffic controllers have retired in recent years.

Because it subsequently proved very difficult to find new people, a gap has arisen in the organization.

According to a ProRail spokesperson, the latter is mainly due to the shortage on the labor market, but the nine-month training is also tough.

"Similar to that of air traffic control," he says.

“Rightly,” Janssen calls the argument about the labor market.

This has to be solved and that can also be done with better working conditions.

"But you can't tell me that if you can keep the track safe 24/7, you can't see people retiring," he says.

"That can't come as a surprise. As an organization, you have a reasonable idea when it's someone's birthday."

"Now we can perhaps say that we should have accelerated the personnel policy," says the ProRail spokesperson.

"Of course we also look at ourselves. How could we have done this better and how can we do better in the future?"

The high workload of train traffic controllers also plays a role.

Due to a lack of staff, they sometimes have to work double irregular shifts.

"They work hard and also come to work in their spare time," says the ProRail spokesperson.

This then comes at the expense of days off.

The staff can barely go on summer vacation.

Director of traffic control leaves

As a result of the problems with traffic control, director Roel Salden decided this week to leave on 1 September.

According to the trade magazine


, Salden does not consider himself the right person to "get the basics in order" at the traffic control



To tackle the shortage, ProRail has increased its recruitment budget and will expand its training capacity.

The rail manager is also trying to temporarily redeploy recently retired people and train traffic controllers who are now working elsewhere in the organization at locations where they are badly needed.

In addition, ProRail will shortly be updating train traffic controllers from other parts of the country about the Utrecht rail network. Colleagues cannot simply help out. "You really need to have knowledge of certain stretches of track for that."