NETHERLANDS Railways’ (NS) flagship new train fleet, the 200km/h Intercity New Generation (ICNG) EMU based on Alstom’s Coradia Stream platform, carried its first fare-paying passengers on April 19.

Under the final stage of the ICNG testing programme, a train formed of one five-car and one eight-car EMU departed from Amsterdam Central at 06.38, operating NS IC Direct service 907. NS CEO, Mr Wouter Koolmes, was among the passengers onboard.

The ICNG formation operated several IC Direct services between Amsterdam Central and Rotterdam Central via the HSL-South high-speed line, but during the day faults developed with the door closing and locking system.

This forced NS to take the ICNG EMUs out of service for repair by its Nedtrain rolling stock maintenance subsidiary at the Watergraafsmeer workshops in Amsterdam, where the ICNG fleet is based.

The trains returned to service on April 20, and NS stresses that one objective of the final stages of the ICNG testing programme is to identify and rectify any teething troubles that may emerge in passenger service.

If initial operations are satisfactory, NS plans to place a second ICNG formation in commercial service, widening the field of operations to include services from Amsterdam to Breda and from The Hague to Eindhoven, both via HSL-South.

At later date, NS is also planning to operate the ICNG from Amsterdam to Groningen, Leeuwarden and Enschede.

Regular ICNG passenger operations are scheduled to start with the timetable change on December 10. The new fleet will gradually replace formations of ICRm coaches with a Bombardier Traxx MS2 locomotive at either end, which when completely withdrawn will enable the ICNG to operate at up to 200km/h on HSL-South rather than up to the 160km/h maximum speed of the Traxx locomotives.

NS ordered 99 ICNG EMUs from Alstom in 2018, including 49 five-car and 27 eight-car sets for domestic services and 20 eight-car ICNGB variants to operate to Brussels.

The order was placed after NS and Belgian National Railways (SNCB) decided not to take into service the V250 Albatros trains built by AnsaldoBreda and returned them to the manufacturer.

The V250 fleet is now being operated by Trenitalia on the Italian national network.

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