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NMa: ProRail must lower rail tariff charged to NS

Rail Infrastructure Manager ProRail has unlawfully raised the tariff it charges to a number of railway undertakings of the Netherlands Railways (NS) for the use of the rail network in 2008. This means that ProRail must charge almost € 24 million less this year to various NS railway undertakings (NS Reizigers B.V., NS Internationaal B.V., Thalys Nederland N.V.). The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) concluded this after investigation into a complaint from NS. ProRail will also have to adjust the tariffs it had already announced for 2009. The NMa rejected another complaint from NS regarding ProRail's invoicing.

The increase is related to the so-called 'train kilometre tariff' for passenger trains on the primary rail network (the part of the rail infrastructure on which NS Reizigers exclusively operates for the public transport of passengers by train). ProRail had indicated it would be charging extra costs in the tariffs that apply as of 1 March 2008. The tariffs rose partly because work on the rails is taking place more often in the nights and weekends, which means higher costs for the maintenance of the railway infrastructure. NS claimed that ProRail did not adhere to the tariff system set down in the Network Statement. NS also felt it was being discriminated against in relation to other transport companies since in practice the increase only applied for the NS's railway undertakings. The NMa found in favour of NS on this point. Since it has already been agreed in the contracts between ProRail and the NS parties involved that the 2008 rates will be adjusted in line with the NMa's decision on this matter, the competition authority decided not to impose a periodic penalty payment.

NS had also voiced objections to the manner in which it was invoiced for using the rail infrastructure. ProRail shifted its invoicing forward by a month, as a result of which NS must pay the invoice earlier. The NMa found this is not in violation of what has been agreed between ProRail and the relevant NS parties in their access agreements and therefore rejected this complaint from the NS.