NMa releases its annual Rail Monitor
The Dutch rail transport market continues to function better and better, but at the same time the Office of Transport Regulation (VK) of the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) has also identified three bottlenecks, which will serve as valuable input for the Agenda of the VK that will be released sometime later in 2009. These are the conclusions of the fourth Rail Monitor, which provides an overview of the current state of the Dutch rail transport market.
Most of the improvements that have been made in the rail transport market relate to the 2009 capacity allocation process, an area in which ProRail in particular has made considerable progress. In its rulings on capacity allocation, the NMa has elucidated how capacity should be allocated in accordance with the Railway Act. Also, ProRail has taken steps to increase objectivity in dispute settlement even further.
In the Rail Monitor, transport undertakings have expressed their disagreement with the sharply risen 2010 infrastructure charge that they need to pay ProRail for using the rail infrastructure. Furthermore, a subject of heated debate is a plan of Keyrail, the manager of the freight-dedicated railway Betuweroute, to charge a fee for the use of its yards.
The consultation procedures that both ProRail and Keyrail are required to follow for when establishing the annual Network Statement give rise to growing resentment among the transport undertakings. The Network Statement is a crucial document that contains information with which transport undertakings acquire access to the infrastructure. Transport undertakings opine that these consultation procedures of ProRail and Keyrail need to be harmonized better. Furthermore, having two separate Network Statements – one of ProRail and one of Keyrail – is considered by a number of transport undertakings to be too big an administrative burden.
The third bottleneck, according to the transport undertakings, is the lack of clarity on what should be considered a rail-related service or not, such as access to station buildings and other station facilities, staff areas, workshops, and fueling stations. Access to these kinds of services is of considerable importance to the logistical processes of both freight transport and passenger transport undertakings.
The previous three Rail Monitors have served as input for, among other things, the evaluation of the Dutch railway legislation, and for the report of the Sorgdrager commission, which carried out investigations (Evaluation of Railway Act 2005) into experiences with the Railway Act on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management.
The Office of Transport Regulation is part of the NMa, handling complaints of railway market players and carrying out ex-officio investigations in response to, among other things, indications from the railway market. This contributes to greater transparency of the market, and will lead to better regulation and oversight.