The caretaker cabinet has told state-owned railway company NS it cannot bring in extra charges for peak period travel in 2026 as planned and needs to rethink its strategy for dealing with full trains.
Railways minister Vivianne Heijnen told MPs on Tuesday that the new concession for operating the railway network will also include a clause ruling out a rush hour supplement without the green light of both the government of the day and MPs.
NS wants to add up to €2.50 per journey to peak period ticket prices, which it says will help reduce pressure on full trains. But MPs and passenger groups have slammed the proposal, saying many people have no choice but to travel early in the morning because of their jobs.
Heijnen said that while the extra charge could have an impact on passenger numbers, it would also be unfair to those who have no option but to use the train to get to work. She also said other measures – such as cheaper season tickets for non-peak period travel – may also have a similar effect.
The NS needs to properly research these options too and they need to be looked at by an independent third party, the minister said during a debate on the future of the railways.
Ministers and NS officials have been in talks for months about the next concession to run the country’s railway network, most of which is still in state hands. The current main concession ends in 2024, with the next operating from 2025 to 2033.
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