The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has not identified any major anticompetitive risks with regard to the pilot project where passengers on a regional rail line in the eastern part of the Netherlands are able to touch on and touch off only once. During the trial period, riding this line (called the Valleilijn in Dutch, literally ‘Valley Line’) will be easier and cheaper for all passengers. In this way, this temporary collaboration will benefit passengers. However, ACM does mandate several safeguards to be in place so that, during the trial period, Dutch Railways NS and rival public-transport company Connexxion exchange as little as possible any commercially-sensitive information. After the trial period, such information cannot be used for commercial purposes or any future tender processes. The trial period can last 12 months at the most.
We are happy to help make this pilot project possible because we attach great value to the benefits it offers to passengers. At the same time, we want to make sure that competition in the market is not disrupted. Thanks to tender processes in the public-transport market, the Netherlands has excellent public-transport services at competitive prices. That is something to hold on to.
Avoiding confusion over touching on and off
Connexxion operates train services on the Valley Line between Amersfoort station and Ede-Wageningen station. When changing to services operated by another public-transport company, passengers currently have to touch off and on again with their public-transport smart cards. This procedure is cumbersome, and, at certain stations, it also causes a lot of confusion among passengers. At Amersfoort station and Ede-Wageningen station on the Valley Line, smart card readers of both NS and Connexxion are located next to each other on the platforms. During the trial period, passengers on the Valley Line no longer need to touch off and on when changing to trains of the other operator.