The cabinet is commissioning a study to determine whether NS needs financial assistance in order to properly operate the most important rail connections, the so-called main rail network, in the coming years. The company may not have to pay any compensation in the new concession, which will take effect in 2025. A subsidy is also on the table. In addition, the rail company may look into a surcharge for travelers traveling during rush hours.
State Secretary Vivianne Heijnen of Infrastructure reports this to the House of Representatives. Since the corona pandemic, fewer people are still traveling by train than before. In addition, NS is suffering from the increased costs of energy in particular, but also those of personnel, equipment and maintenance.
The railway company itself will have to continue with cost savings by deploying personnel and equipment as efficiently as possible. In addition, the Dutch Railways will be given scope by the cabinet to further increase the rates. Heijnen gives as an example that this may concern a rush hour surcharge, which travelers then have to pay extra if they take the train during peak hours. In addition to time, it can also be about price differences by location.
An external investigation must show whether the measures are sufficient to cover the costs, or whether more help from the government may be needed. Heijnen does not yet mention concrete amounts.
In the current concession for the main rail network, which expires at the end of 2024, NS pays a compensation of around 80 million euros per year. Heijnen says it may be willing to waive that fee in the new concession. It is not yet clear how this setback for the treasury will be absorbed.
A spokesman for Heijnen emphasizes that NS only receives help in years in which it suffers a loss. ‘We are not going to sponsor companies that write black figures.’ In recent years, NS has already received hundreds of millions from the national government to ensure that the trains could continue to run during and just after the corona crisis.