Francesca Josanu (19), International Business Administration from Moldova

“Where I’m from, I wouldn’t even go out after 9pm and my mum would never let me go alone. Even during the day there is drunk people on transport and they sometimes get violent. I’ve seen tipsy kids travelling here, and although I guess they could get angry I haven’t noticed it. People here just aren’t that aggressive, so I’m never scared or concerned catching trains, even at night. If conductors had batons and pepper spray they would need to be very careful about using them because it could do more harm than good. There would need to be strict guidelines, so staff use them only when really necessary, otherwise it will just create more problems.” HK

Marc Ludwig (19), International Business Administration from Germany

“I use the train about once a month to travel home to Germany and never witnessed any violence on Dutch trains. Dutch trains feel safer than the German ones, mainly because the people who’re travelling here are better behaved. In Germany you can drink on the trains, so there’s often a lot of drunk people, but here it’s not like that. When you go over the border, police often enter trains with drug dogs, and you expect them to carry weapons. Giving regular staff batons and pepper spray would probably be a bit much, seeing weapons being carried could even provoke people.”

Mike Gunawan (21), International Business Administration from the Netherlands

“Issuing NS staff with batons and pepper spray could prove counterproductive. If there was only one aggressor it would probably be fine, but what if it was a group? They could overpower the conductor and get hold of those weapons. A better idea would be to bring back the special train police we used to have, they were trained to deal with these exact situations. The problem seems to lie mostly with people who don’t pay, and perhaps this should be addressed first. If gates were installed at all stations passengers would have to check-in, so staff wouldn’t need to check tickets on board anymore. This would probably be a better solution as you wouldn’t have the added expense of training staff.”

Do rail staff need weapons?

Following a number of violent incidents in recent weeks, consideration is being given to issuing batons and pepper-spray to NS staff. EM asked students how they feel travelling on rail services and whether staff need better protection.