Minister imposes stricter conditions on NS
1 December 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Transport Minister Karla Peijs intends to impose stricter demands on Dutch rail operator NS for it to maintain its right to utilise the rail network until 2015, it was reported on Wednesday.
1 December 2004
AMSTERDAM — Transport Minister Karla Peijs intends to impose stricter demands on Dutch rail operator NS for it to maintain its right to utilise the rail network until 2015, it was reported on Wednesday.
The minister will demand that the NS maintain service quality outside urban areas and maintain the existing discount card for elderly citizens. The NS will also be assessed earlier in the future on safety issues and seat numbers.
The stricter demands come after MPs pressured Peijs and Transport State Secretary Melanie Schultz in October to re-enter negotiations with the NS and rail network authority ProRail over the long-term transport and management concessions afforded the organisations.
Peijs initially did not want to go any further than a strict evaluation in 2006, asserting that the rail sector would become "totally crazy". But in the new package of demands, the minister has largely complied with the Parliament's demands.
Among the stronger demands, the NS will not be allowed to downgrade or close railway stations and regional transport companies must be given greater access to the market. The NS must also ensure that all trains are accessible for people in wheelchairs by 2030.
But Peijs refused to lay down how many trains the NS must make available on rail routes and does not intend to change the existing ticket price demands, in which the NS is allowed to raise its prices once per year by the rate of inflation plus 2 percent.
The NS has refused to comment on the minister's plans, with a spokesman pointing out that the rail operator was still locked in negotiations with the minister. Peijs is expected to inform the Parliament by letter later on Wednesday about the exact nature of her plans.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news