Train tickets in Netherlands could increase again

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If ProRail were to raise its usage charges by 17 percent, NS would have to increase prices of train tickets by 2.5 percent.

THE NETHERLANDS – Prices of train tickets are set to rise should rail network authority ProRail decide to raise its usage charges by 17 percent in 2009, hence passing on the cost to national train operator Dutch Rail (NS).

On Tuesday, NS announced it would have to increase the prices of train tickets by 2.5 percent. The increase in ticket prices would come on top of an inflation-driven increase of 3.5 percent.

NS lodged a complaint with the Dutch Competition Authority (NMa), the official free market watchdog, claiming ProRail's plan to raise the fees it charges for the use of the tracks is "illegitimate and insufficiently motivated".

No other Dutch train operators are known to have taken similar action against ProRail.

ProRail is charging the company with variable costs which are in fact fixed costs, incurred by keeping the rail infrastructure in a servicable condition, a NS spokesperson said to the ANP news agency.

 "They've tried it before, and they're not getting away with it now," said the spokesperson.

A ProRail spokesperson responding to NS’s criticism told BNR radio the planned increase is part of a professionalisation drive in the rail sector.

The tariff system dates back to 2002, when parliament decided to separate ownership of the rail network and the operating of train services.

Meanwhile, Public transport users' association Rover said the extra increase in train ticket prices is unacceptable. The association added an extra price rise will not help the government's aim of a yearly growth of 5 percent in train use.

Radio Netherlands / Expatica

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