NS paid too much for high-speed rail track

Dutch Rail (NS) paid much too much to operate the high-speed train line between Amsterdam and Paris when it bid for the contract nine years ago, the Telegraaf reports on Monday.

NS bid €168m for the contract, 70% more than the second potential operator – a combination of bus company Arriva and German railway company Deutsche Bahn, the paper says.
The paper quotes confidential documents which show the government has had to bail out the NS’s high-speed subsidiary HSA. In return for government cash, the rail firm has agreed not to sue the state for the late delivery of a safety system, which has delayed the launch of proper high-speed services in the Netherlands.
In addition, NS overestimated potential earnings from the service, which it put at €80m a year from 2015, the paper says. But last year, the service made a €10m loss rather than a profit.
The paper says NS was warned in 2000 that its estimates were over-optimistic.
NS told the paper ‘changed market conditions’ such as the launch of cut-price air travel were responsible for the loss.
But according to news agency ANP, there are few low-cost carriers operating on the Paris to Amsterdam route and none between Amsterdam and Brussels.
The Dutch stretch of the high speed track is due to come into operation on September 7, knocking 21 minutes off the journey time between Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

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