Railway break up did not boost productivity, cut costs, says report

The separation of the Dutch railway company NS into a passenger services arm (NS) and track operator (ProRail) has not made rail travel cheaper as hoped, according to researchers at Delft’s University of Technology.

In particular, the cost of a kilometre of rail travel actually rose in the first 10 years after the company was broken up in 1995, the researchers say.

The research was carried out on behalf of the home affairs ministry and confirms the picture painted by critical NS staffers, the Volkskrant said. In particular workers say the two companies, both of which are state owned, have become more bureaucratic since the break-up.


Although the researchers do not draw political conclusions, they do state: ‘There are signs which would indicate a connection between institutional developments and developments in rail sector productivity.

Commenting on the report, ProRail said the researchers ‘missed an opportunity’ by not looking at the impact of regional rail operators which would have ‘produced a considerably better picture’, the Volkskrant said.

There have been calls from various political parties for the two companies to be merged again.

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