The NS stops selling the cheap group retour with which travelers and distributors commit fraud on a large scale. The railway company will replace the two-week ticket card with a ticket that obliges passengers to sit on the train as a group.
With the current group retour ticket, physical travel together is not yet an obligation. Travelers massively abuse this loophole by buying tickets via Facebook. Who, together with other travelers form a group in advance, only pay 7 euros for a ticket. One trading platform, a Facebook page for tickets to Amsterdam, has no fewer than 75,000 members. Also pages for tickets to Groningen and Maastricht have tens of thousands of members. NS sells 3.5 to 6 thousand group of these every day, says spokesperson Erik Kroeze.
Brokers are committing fraud too by buying tickets from NS and reselling them to individual travelers with profit. Some resellers made hundreds of euros of profit every day. Other ‘middlemen’ were in bad faith and they ‘did not’ attack their customers by not delivering the tickets after payment. By replacing the group return on 15 January with tickets that require physical travel together, NS makes short work of the scams.
It is unclear how much financial damage NS has suffered from the large-scale ticket scam. In the Algemeen Dagblad, a train expert estimates the loss at 2.4 million euros per year, but that number can not be confirmed by spokesman Kroeze. “We do not have actual figures. But the damage was substantial.” NS has been selling the group returns since 2013. It was only in March 2017 that Trouw discovered that middlemen were making substantial profits on the tickets.
New group ticket
NS replaces the group return with the new NS Group ticket. Groups of travelers must now travel together on the same train. The maximum number of passengers for the new tickets is limited to seven per group. The current group return can not be excluded. The new ticket is also not a return ticket, but a single journey. The new group ticket is valid on weekdays during off-peak hours and throughout the weekend.