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NS to increase price of train tickets during rush hour24 April 2014, by Alexandra Gowling
A new transport agreement between the Dutch government and major national train operator NS is likely to see the price of tickets rise during rush hour.
The price for a single ticket could go up by as much as 10 per cent, while a season ticket (trajectkaart) could be six per cent more expensive. The intention behind these changes is to make travel during off-peak hours cheaper.
State Secretary for Infrastructure and Environment Wilma Mansveld, in presenting the new transport agreements to parliament, said "We want to ensure that people will travel in off-peak hours if they do not need to travel during rush hour. We want to spread the passenger flow over the day and have people travel more consciously."
These agreements are part of the government’s recent commitment to improve train travel throughout the Netherlands.
New rail transport agreements
Consumers still have time to voice their opinion on the plan, as NS is currently only at the stage of preparing a proposal for what they call tariff differentiation.
Tariffs are just one aspect of what will change, however: Mansveld has made agreements for the next 10 years concerning service and safety on board Dutch trains. These include putting toilets on sprinters and improving intercity services on the weekends. Now, intercity services stop around midnight, whereas this will soon be extended to 1am.
Increased fines and rewards
The agreement also states that NS will incur a much higher penalty if it performs poorly, with the maximum financial penalty increasing from 2,75 million to 6,5 million euros a year.
If NS manages to do significantly better than agreed, however, the carrier may receive a reward of up to 10 million euros. The other major train carrier ProRail will have its maximum fine set at 2,75 million, with the government wanting to be able to claim a penalty immediately.
Also, should NS or ProRail receive a fine, Mansveld proposes that their top executives not receive their bonus. These proposed "concessions" for NS and ProRail are for the next ten years and once approved will apply from next year.
"We have done good business," said Mansveld about the agreements. "Here you have both the carrot and the stick. I want to walk the middle way: I lay down some penalties, but there is also a huge boost in these agreements for them to perform better."
"That's a big stick to make us perform well, as we see it," said an NS spokesman said concerning the new 10-year agreement. "Sometimes something like that is needed. We will do everything we can not to get that fine."
Thus, NS says they will be focusing on ensuring that travellers can arrive on time. "Around 93 per cent of rural services run on time," the spokesman continued, "but between Leiden and Utrecht that drops to about 70 per cent. It is a busy route: if an intercity is delayed there for a few minutes, you can miss your connection."
According to NS figures, every day around 236.000 passengers, a quarter of the total, have to make one change over, while another 30.000 make two or more changes. Some travel entirely on NS trains, while others switch from regional carriers.
NS says it wants better co-operation with regional carriers for this reason. When connecting schedules are more closely aligned, they say, travellers are able to continue their journey more easily. "The traveller is not from us or from others, but from everyone."