Dutch railway group NS suspends two over Limburg concession leak

Dutch railway group NS suspends two over Limburg concession leak

Dutch state-owned railway firm NS has suspended two managers at its Qbuzz/Abellio subsidiary in for their role in 'serious irregularities' concerning a public transport concession in Limburg.The two are said to have accepted confidential information from a former worker at Veolia Transport Limburg which they used to win the right to provide public transport services in the province. Veolia was also competing for the concession.According to Dutch media reports, Qbuzz hired the former Veolia worker as an intermediary for the tendering process even though he had a non-competition agreement with his former employer.[banner]Abellio eventually won the contract to supply the bus services from 2016 to 2031.The value of the contract is put at €2bn.NS said on Tuesday it had published the results of its investigation into the tendering process 'in the interests of transparency'. However, the two directors told the Volkskrant the NS itself has encouraged the use of the Veolia employee and that his appointment was checked with the NS legal department.Finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is techically the NS's only shareholder, described the situation as 'completely unacceptable' and said the company's own internal controls had failed.  More >

Poles, Bulgarians face discrimination

Polish and Bulgarian nationals say they increasingly face discrimination in the Netherlands, according to a new report by the government’s socio-cultural think tank SCP.The report followed a group of Polish and Bulgarian nationals who moved to the Netherlands in 2009 and 2010 and were interviewed again in late 2012 and early 2013.In 2010, 17% of Bulgarian nationals who had just moved to the Netherlands said they faced discrimination but this had risen to 66% by 2013. In the Polish community, 49% of new arrivals said they had to deal with discrimination, a rise of 10 percentage points on 2010.[banner]The survey period coincided with a surge in anti-immigrant rhetoric from Geert Wilders and his anti-immigration PVV, including the launch of a 'hotline' to report 'problems with Poles'.This is likely to have had an impact on people's attitudes and experiences, the researchers said. Negative experiences at work and in dealing with Dutch officialdom is also a likely cause.At the same time, the percentage of Bulgarians who said they were happy with their lives in the Netherlands fell from 71% to 45%. Around eight in 10 Poles said they were pleased with their lives in the Netherlands, a figure which was unchanged from 2010.The researchers said 27% of their original panel of Bulgarian nationals had left by the time of the second survey. Many of these are thought to have been students. Some 17% of the Polish nationals had left.  More >

Feyenoord faces €50,000 fine for banana

Utrecht, Rotterdam pull out of European Games plan, citing high costs Football club Feyenoord faces a fine of €50,000 playing its next European match without supporters because what it said was a 'racist incident' during this year’s Europa League tie between the Rotterdammers and AS Roma.During the game, a huge blow-up banana was thrown on the pitch, landing next to Roma player Gervinho, who comes from Ivory Coast.The match was also disrupted several times because of crowd trouble.[banner]The club said on Monday the fine and spectator ban had been confirmed. However, on Tuesday Feyenoord issued a second statement saying the punishment is not definitive and has yet to be confirmed by Uefa's disciplinary and ethical committee.'It is not clear when the final ruling will be made,' the club statement said.The Volkskrant says the accusations of racism have hit the club hard because it is a multicultural club from a multicultural city. Blow-up bananas are a common sight on the terraces, the paper says.  More >

Students overcharged for shared flats

Utrecht, Rotterdam pull out of European Games plan, citing high costs Three quarters of students in the Netherlands pay too much for a room in a shared student house or with private individuals, according to research by student union LSVb.On average they pay €314 a month for a small room in a shared property, which is €50 too much, the LSVb says.In Amsterdam, Leiden and Utrecht average rents for a room are more than €100 a month more expensive than they should be, the student body says.[banner]Utrecht tops the list. Some 31% of students pay more than €300 month more than they should for a room. In Amsterdam, one in four students is overcharged by such a large amount.‘Students have a weak position in the housing market and landlords are taking advantage of them,’ union chairman Tom Hoven says in the Telegraaf. ‘Steps need to be taken in cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht and Leiden to make sure there is a level playing field with other student cities.’Students who live in what is considered to be an 'independent' property, with private bathroom and kitchen, pay an average of €500 a month, the LSVb says.  More >

Dutch SnappCar takes over Danish peer

Dutch car sharing platform SnappCar takes over Danish peer Dutch car sharing platform SnappCar is taking over Danish peer Minbildinbil in what the company says is a 'new, important step towards conquering Europe'.Minbildinbil has some 20,000 participants and 2,500 cars on its books, according to a SnappCar blog post. The takeover brings SnappCar's total community to 100,000 people and 12,500 cars.SnappCar founder Victor van Tol says there is a lot of potential for growth in Denmark. 'The Danes are open-minded and progressive in terms of mobility,' Van Tol said. 'They see the practical and social advantages of sharing cars and, more than that, are actually prepared to share their vehicles.'[banner]SnappCar wants to have 250,000 cars on its books by 2018 and is focusing on urban areas in north western Europe to reach this.The takeover has been financed by the sale of shares to Danish investment fund Founders. Founders is the third investor for SnappCar. The company raised €560,000 through crowdfunding last year and ethical investment fund PYMWYMIC also has a stake.  More >