NS warns of 25pc ticket price rise
13 November 2003, AMSTERDAM — Dutch Rail NS chief Ad Veenman has said train ticket prices might have to rise by 25 percent to fund management and maintenance of the railway network.
13 November 2003
AMSTERDAM — Dutch Rail NS chief Ad Veenman has said train ticket prices might have to rise by 25 percent to fund management and maintenance of the railway network.
"If we must pay and extra EUR 200 million for management and maintenance of the railway, we must raise the price of a train tickets by 25 percent," Veenman said at the AGM of employers association Royal Dutch Transport (KVN) on Thursday.
The annual increase in railway taxes charged to the NS by the government for the use of its infrastructure was higher than expected this year. This meant that many passengers will no longer be able to afford train tickets, the NS chief said.
The number of NS passengers has fallen in the past six months by 2.2 percent, costing the rail operator EUR 20 million. Furthermore, the NS recorded a EUR 69 million loss last year and looks set to end in the red again this year.
The NS is thus being forced to pass on the higher taxes onto its commuters and train tickets were already set to increase by 0.5 percent in price next year due to an unexpected tax increase. According to the contract the NS has signed with the government, the rail operator is allowed to pass the higher costs onto passengers.
NS prices have recently been the subject of discussion. The rail operator's planned double barrelled price this year drew sharp parliamentary criticism, preventing the NS from carrying out a second priced rise in the middle of this year, following a 4.5 percent increase introduced on 31 December 2002.
The NS is only allowed one price rise per year and after promising it would not increase prices in 2001 as compensation for strikes and massive delays, the December and planned mid-2003 price rises were thus seen as dirty trick to bypass that promise.
Meanwhile, the NS has recently agreed with consumer groups that prices may increase by 2.075 percent if it meets an 84.4 percent punctuality target. So far this year, just 83.4 percent of trains have travelled on time.
Veenman also said on Thursday that road users should pay more for the maintenance of the railway network, demanding a larger proportion of the so-called Kok Quarter fuel excise tax to be allocated to public transport. Currently only 13 percent of the excise tax goes to public transport, but Veenman is demanding between 18 and 19 percent.
He said the change was necessary because the government has only allocated EUR 2 billion in funding between now and 2012 on work designed to remove the backlog of railway maintenance works. The NS said EUR 2.4 billion was required between now and 2008.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news