I am a regular customer of NS, commuting daily on the Amsterdam-Utrecht route for my work (on a traject vrij abonnement). In addition, i work on an essential profession, which means i have been using the train non-stop all 2020.
Since June, i participated with enthusiasm on your pilot (Trein Veilig Service) and have been ever since recognizing the great deal of effort of most of NS employees to streamline transportation in these tough times. Getting us going where we are needed, daily, is serious business. It’s tough for them and us, and some of them make me feel we are in this together. I am grateful for these people.
However, for some other NS employees i am not grateful at all. Yesterday, on my way back home, i had a very unpleasant (to the limit of harassment) experience with one of your conductors:
Waiting for my train on the platform of Utrecht Centraal and quickly grabing the last two bites of my pretzel, i noticed that the train on the opposite side of the platform (arrived some minutes before) had a huge graffiti covering the last compartment. The platform was empty at that time, and only the conductor was there, waiting to whistle the departure. Graffiti’s on NS trains are an abnormal spectacle (at least to me), so i thought it would be worth to capture it. The following conversation with the conductor takes place:
[NS employee, in Dutch] Are you taking a picture? This is not allowed.
[me] Sorry, what?
[NS employee, in English] It’s not allowed to take pictures!
[me] I am taking a picture of the train, there are no people visible anywhere (the whole train was covered in graffiti paint, so it was even impossible to see inside) so i think that’s ok to do.
[NS employee] No it’s not. And you are not wearing your mask. Put it on.
[me] (one hand holding the mask in a plastic bag and my pretzel, other hand juggling my cell phone for the photo) As you see, i am eating before boarding my train. According to what i know, it is ok to do that. There’s no person around me for at least 15 m (except for him, he was standing -after approaching me- at 2-3 m away). And anyway i will put it on as soon as i am finished.
[NS employee] No, you will put your mask on NOW. You are not allowed here without it.
[me] But how can i eat while wearing it?
[NS employee] You do as i say. You should take it on and off only to have a bite!
[me] I don’t think that’s how things are…
[NS employee with a raised voice] AS I SAY! These are the NEW RULES.
At that point, i understood that the person was totally unreasonable. Perhaps a bad day at work? Sad that the train had a graffiti? I dunno, but i know enough not to mess up with unprofessional, ignorant people, especially the ones with a strange feeling of authority empowerment. I replied “ok i will do so” and left -with a fair deal of frustration and disappointment- for my train, that in the meanwhile was just arriving.
Two questions to you NS (considering that maybe i am reading the things wrong here in some way):
- is it forbidden to shoot a photo -for my own personal use- of a train while on the platform, considering that the photo captures no persons? https://nieuws.ns.nl/filmen-en-fotograferen/ [part: “Is het een privé opname?”]
- Is it compulsory (so not an urgent recommendation, but an obligation) to wear a mask while on the platform? And do you encourage using a mask in this on/off way while eating on the platform? https://www.ns.nl/en/featured/corona/face-mask.html [FAQs: “Am i obliged to wear a face mask when I’m in an NS station?” and “Can i eat or drink in the train?”]
I understand that we live in tough times, but i try to deal with it with responsibility and kindness. I hope your answers help me improve and perhaps give to NS employees that recognize themselves on the story above some motivation for change.