Dutch state-owned railway company NS wants to press ahead with a €2.50 supplement for peak period morning travel, despite MPs’ vote last week not to basic sanction fare increases.
NS chief Wouter Koolmees is in parliament on Monday afternoon to discuss his plans to put up ticket prices, including the extra charge at busy times, which has already been backed by the cabinet.
A large majority of MPs oppose the plan, including all four parties in the outgoing coalition. They argue many rail travellers, such as nurses and teachers, have no option but to delay their journeys and will be unfairly hit by the extra charge.
According to the AD, NS wants to introduce different supplements for different busy periods, ranging from €1.50 to €2.50 per trip. The addition would put up the cost of a single ticket from Amsterdam to Utrecht to €11.30 for journeys between 8am and 8.30am.
Koolmees said earlier the aim is to reduce peak period travel, when trains are often too full and argues 20% of train users could travel at other times.
During last week’s budget debate, a clear majority of MPs backed a proposal from ChristenUnie and GroenLinks-PvdA to stop the planned 3.5% rise in train and regional bus ticket prices next year. Public transport should be considered a “basic provision”, MPs said.
Both that, and the rush hour supplement, will be decided by the next government.
The freeze on public transport tickets would involve the government allocating an additional €120 million to NS and €300 million to regional bus companies, which are owned by the private sector.
Rail user lobby group Rover has also slated the proposed higher charges for rush hour travel, saying the scheme is impractical and will cost travellers a great deal more money.
Rover says the extra fees will not only make tickets much more expensive but will create confusion about prices in general, with travellers confronted with as many as six different prices in a day.
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.
Meanwhile, transport company Arriva is appealing to the Dutch competition authority ACM in its quest to be allowed to take over 24 stop train services and two intercity routes from the NS, chief executive Anne Hettinga told the Volkskrant in an interview.
The routes are all part of what is considered to be the main Dutch railway network and therefore part of the package automatically allocated to NS.
Arriva, which is owned by the German state railway company Deutsche Bahn, has been fighting for a bigger slice of the Dutch market for year, so far without success.
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