NS joins the rush to offer international train services

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Dutch state-owned railway company NS has joined the rush to register plans to offer international train services, ahead of the government’s deadline. 

The NS has now submitted requests to the Dutch competition authority to offer open-access services to London, Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt, Vienna and Innsbruck. The open-access operating model means the train operator carries all the associated costs and risks with the services, without any government concession or subsidy.

Infrastructure minister Vivianne Heijnen said earlier this year she wanted to know by June 14 which companies would be interested in running international services when the market is opened up.

Currently, the NS has been given the licence to operate most train services in the Netherlands and across borders as a job lot and MPs are known to want to continue this system.

However, European rules state that governments must first assess what interest there is in running international train routes before deciding to award contracts without a competitive tender process, and these rules will become stricter from next year.

Dutch News reported earlier this week that regional bus and train companies Qbuzz and Arriva, and long-distance coach service FlixBus, all have plans to offer international train services in the coming years.

Qbuzz told the Volkskrant it has plans to launch international services to Paris and Berlin in 2027. FlixTrain, a subsidiary of Germany’s FlixBus, said it hoped to gain space on the Dutch network at the end of 2024 with trains from Germany to Rotterdam via Arnhem, Amsterdam and The Hague.

Arriva, 100% owned by German state railway Deutsche Bahn, also has plans for a daily service between Groningen and Paris

Earlier, railway start-up European Sleeper launched night trains to Berlin and plans to offer a similar service to Barcelona. And last December Arriva started open access services between Groningen and Schiphol.

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