ProRail to loose independence as Dutch govt. prepares takeover: report
The Dutch government wants to reverse the privatization of rail operator ProRail, NOS reports based on information from sources in The Hague. The government wants to get more control over ProRail by turning it into an independent administrative body under the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, according to the the broadcaster. This proposal was sent to responsible State Secretary Sharon Dijksma on Friday, according to NOS. She is expected to announce the decision later this week. By taking back control over ProRail, the government wants to improve track maintenance and reduce the number of computer, signalling and points failures. Only this morning train traffic around Amersfoort was brought to a complete standstill due to a signal failure. The government also wants more insight into ProRail's finances, to avoid the continuous surprise cost overruns. ProRail receives 2.5 billion euros a year for construction and maintenance of the railway tracks. The bulk of this amount comes from the government. Currently the government only has a shareholder influence over the goings on at ProRail. Turning the company into an independent administrative body will not put it under the direct control of the Ministry. But it will give the government the possibility of keeping a better eye on the company, turn back decisions and appoint and dismiss directors, according to NOS. Other examples of such independent administrative bodies include the Netherlands central bank DNB and the central agency for the reception of asylum seekers COA. According to NOS, ProRail is stunned by the decision. The rail company calls it hasty and unwise, especially since an investigation into the effects of such a reorganization is still ongoing. It will have a major impact on the entire rail sector and ProRail's staff, according to the company. People working at ProRail worry about what affect this will have on their working conditions. The government plans to accommodate the ProRails staff as much as possible, according to the broadcaster's sources. For example, they want to keep the employees on the railway pension fund, instead of switching them to the fund for government official. This is because switching to ABP will have a negative affect.