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NMa Imposes penal sum on ProRail

The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) has imposed an interdict on ProRail. ProRail, the manager of the Dutch railway network, has failed adequately to meet the requirements stipulated in the Railways Act [Spoorwegwet] with regard to the provision of information to market parties relating to access to and the use of the railways. The aim of the interdict is to ensure that ProRail provides the data in the correct manner within three months. If ProRail does not meet this demand, it will be required to pay €10,000 for each day that it does not meet this demand, subject to a maximum of €400,000.

ProRail is required to publish the information in the so-called "Network Statement". The Network Statement is the document prescribed by law, which must contain all the information required for access to and the use of the railways.

By imposing this interdict, NMa wishes to provide clarity quickly for existing market parties and new entrants to the market. Without this information, they cannot tailor their operations properly to the market. It has emerged from an investigation carried out by the Office of Transport Regulation, the part of NMa which regulates the railway sector, that certain information was missing from the network statements for the years 2006 and 2007, or was provided by means other than the Network Statements. For instance, the Network Statement failed to provide information on applications for capacity allocation at stations and shunting yards, and information on the use of computerised planning systems.

The regulator started its investigation because considerable changes are occurring at present in the railway sector. These changes relate to the coming into force of the Railways Act, which aims to introduce market forces into the railway sector. Potential new entrants may therefore not be prevented from offering services via the railways. Access to all relevant information with regard to railway schedules is therefore crucial. This is also important for foreign railway companies which wish to offer services in the Netherlands, since the rules may differ from one Member State to the next.

The sanction in relation to the Network Statements follows a dialogue between NMa and ProRail. ProRail has met all the regulator's other demands, for instance in relation to the timely publication of the Network Statement 2007 and information on applications for capacity in the short term.

The interdict was issued on the basis of the report which NMa drew up on the basis of its investigation and ProRail's views on this report. Interested parties may file objections to this decision with NMa.