Monopoly: Transit operators accuse NS, Dutch gov’t of anti-competitive behavior

Schiphol Airport station in Amsterdam
A crowded train platform at Schiphol Airport with many headed to Amsterdam on King's Day. 27 April 2018Zack NewmarkNL Times

Five regional transit operators filed legal proceedings against the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management over its decision to award the operation of the Netherlands' main rail network to NS until 2035. According to the transit companies, united in branch organization FMN, this NS monopoly is careless, hasty, and contrary to European regulations, NRC reports.

Last month, State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven of Infrastructure decided to award the operation of the main rail network to NS until 2035, extending the transport concession that was set to expire in 2024. According to the Ministry, this extension is because NS is performing well and is affordable and accessible. "That is the merit of all those drivers, train conductors, traffic control and safety and service employees," she said.

But according to the regional carriers, including Arriva's German parent company Deutsche Ban and Connexxion's French parent Transdev, NS and the Dutch government are showing anti-competitive behavior with this move. They pointed out that European regulations ban private awarding to state-owned companies, like NS, after 2024. According to FMN, European regulations are aimed at liberalizing the railways and the Netherlands is already lagging behind in Europe on that front.