Tuesday 19 November 2019

Dutch railway operators fined and warned by minister

Overcrowding is a serious problem. Photo: Jonathan Marks

Train operator Dutch Rail NS and ProRail which manages and maintains the rail infrastructure have been admonished and fined by caretaker junior infrastructure minister Sharon Dijksma for failing to operate the high-speed rail (HSL) network as agreed.

Dijksma fined NS €1.25m and issued her final warning to the state-owned company that if it fails to improve performance this year, it will have to face competition on the Dutch rail network, the Algemeen Dagblad reported on Thursday.

ProRail was fined €1.05m for failing to fulfill agreements with the minister.

The HSL remains the Achilles heel of the Dutch railway operators. Dijksma said performance in 2016 was ‘on the whole better than in the previous year’ but warned that HSL operations must improve. ‘Passengers traveling on this line have the right to expect the train will leave on time and that they have a good chance of obtaining a seat,’ she said.

Dijksma demands that 97.5% of passengers have a seat or standing place within 15 minutes of boarding a train. But NS scores only 87.6% It was also agreed that 94% of trains should depart on time. In 2016, the NS figure was 93.7%.

The junior minister operates on a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ principle, and NS has failed to meet the agreement for two years running at this point. Therefore NS has to face possible competition on rail routes in the Netherlands next year, the paper said.

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