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ACM clears operation of three new train services by Dutch railway company Arriva

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has given Dutch railway company Arriva the green light to operate three new train services from 2023 onwards. These concern weekly night services between the northern Dutch city of Groningen and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, and between the southern city of Maastricht and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, as well as a daytime service between two cities in central Netherlands, Apeldoorn and Amersfoort, which will run five times a day.

These services do not fall under a public service contract granted by the government. Under EU regulations, such services can, since 2021, be offered as so-called open-access services, provided that they do not have a substantial negative impact on an existing public service contract. Following an investigation, ACM has concluded that this is not the case: the maximum negative impact on the profit margin of the public service contract of the main railway network, which is commercially exploited by Dutch Railways NS, is 0.03 percentage points. Therefore, ACM has cleared the operation of said new train services by Arriva.

The first time ever

This marks the first time that ACM carried out such an assessment. Since January 2021, railway companies can offer open-access services. They will have to notify ACM of these services first though, after which the operators of existing public service contracts as well as the granting authorities have the opportunity to ask ACM to assess whether or not the new service(s) has/have an substantial negative impact on existing public service contract(s).

This investigation was carried out at the request of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW), which is the granting authority of the main railway network contract.