The head of Dutch railway company NS has called on political leaders to start an investigation into reuniting the two state-owned railway firms NS and ProRail in order to improve passenger services.
The current strict separation between the two companies is preventing an effective approach to problems on the railways caused by heavy snow or technical failures, Bert Meerstadt says in a letter to party leaders. NS focuses on passenger services while ProRail runs the track.
‘The rigorous division between NS and ProRail still has negative consequences for passengers; this has to be resolved,’ Meerstadt wrote. Although the railway firms were put at arms length by the state in 1995, the current two-division set-up dates from 2005.
The Volkskrant says this is the first time a senior NS executive has spoken out so strongly against the two-company system, which has come under fire for being bureaucratic and slow.
For example, NS station workers are no longer allowed to clear ice from frozen points. Instead, a formal request has to be made for a ProRail contractor, which can take hours to arrange, leading to long delays for passengers, the paper says.
Last month, the Telegraaf reported that a majority of MPs want the transport ministry to take back control of the railways. The paper said MPs are fed up following the row over large salary rises for its management, the chaos on the railways during last winter and April’s train crash in Amsterdam.
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