The NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) is the Dutch national passenger rail company. I have an annual subscription that entitles me to 40% discount on train fares, and up to six days free travel (keuzedagen) on the entire Dutch rail network. These keuzedagen are available to people who are 60 and above.
Yesterday, I received an email from the NS. It started promisingly enough (in translation):
We want to make our subscription offerings less complicated and more flexible for all travellers.
Well, excellent, I’m all for that. But then it goes on:
Due to the growing number of travellers, the afternoon rush hour is getting busier and the need to ensure a better spread of our travellers throughout the day. Unfortunately, we cannot maintain giving a 40% discount during the afternoon rush hour.
Eh? What was that about “less complicated and more flexible”? Introducing a period when the 40% discount doesn’t apply makes things more complicated and less flexible, surely?
Not only that, but the keuzedag free travel will magically become invalid during the afternoon rush hour. What if I am in the middle of my journey when the clock strikes four? Does the ticket inspector swoop down on me and issue a fine?
The final flourish in the email is the announcement that keuzedagen will no longer be available to people who turn 60 after 2021. I can continue to receive them as part of my annual subscription, but I’ll be part of a dwindling group as we all die off – much to the relief of the NS, I expect.
I can only reflect on the effrontery of the NS (and Tjalling Smit, director of commerce and development, who has sent out this email) and consider it a fine example of Newspeak.