The Telegraaf newspaper on Tuesday published confidential transport ministry documents about railway operator ProRail which junior transport minister Wilma Mansveld had refused to hand over to parliament.
The paper, which has published a string of relevations about ProRail and its budgetary problems in recent days, said the documents are highly critical of ProRail’s finances and the company culture.
Their publication coincides with today’s parliamentary debate between the minister and MPs on the financial problems at ProRail.
The minister is likely to face a vote of no confidence but it is unclear if there is enough support to see her formally censured, the Volkskrant says. According to the Telegraaf, Mansveld is fighting for her political life.
ProRail, the 100% state-owned railway operating company, has been hit by a number of budget disasters, including massive overspends stemming from the redevelopment of Utrecht’s central station.
Earlier this month, the transport ministry’s 2016 spending plans showed a €500m budget shortfall for maintenance.
The leaked documents show that ProRail’s finance department staff were ‘careless and inconsistent’ in the way they worked and that there are gaps in the accounts. ‘The [company’s] culture is not one in which people point out shortcomings,’ the report said. ‘Nor is there any question of immediate intervention by senior management.’
Supervisory board chairman Hans Alders said in a briefing for MPs that improvements do need to be made but that the media has painted an ‘exaggerated and wrong’ image of the situation at ProRail. He too had refused to make the documents public.
ProRail operates the railway tracks and NS is responsible for passenger services. There is mounting pressure on the government to merge the two arms-length companies into a single entity.
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