Arriva, NS's biggest competitor on the railways, wants to run night trains from Maastricht and Groningen to the Randstad, with Schiphol Airport as the main destination. Arriva wants to go against the monopoly position that NS has on the main rail network, CEO Anne Hettinga told NRC.
On Monday, the transport company submitted a request to the supervisory authority for the Consumer & Market Authority (ACM) to run two night trains from 2023. The intention is a new step to gain access to the railway lines that are now only operated by NS. “We gnaw at NS's monopoly position forever. This cabinet has done everything it can to further reduce the liberalization of the railways”, says Hettinga.
When asked who is waiting for these night lines, Hettinga says: “We are entrepreneurs, we want to try it. This was also asked in 2000: who will still be running those regional lines in the north? NS wanted to stop doing that completely, she called unprofitable. We got into it and it has been a success. That nightly connection with the Randstad is the first formal step that we have carefully selected.”
Hettinga thinks it can be a success: “The rail network in the Netherlands is fairly full. Not the busiest in Europe, but well occupied. There is no train on this section of the main rail network during the night – and the plan does not compete with NS. If this is successful, the hours outside rush hour will be discussed. Step-by-step. Our expansion in the north has also proved to be a success. You have to take a long breath. Because cabinets sometimes change color and policy. That does not benefit the traveler.”
Arrives has not changed his policy despite the corona crisis: “In March last year, the sky fell. Sales plummeted by 90 percent, beyond comprehension. We started calculating, how long can we keep this up? Our conclusion: we do not immediately fall over. We decided to maintain the policy we started four years ago. To continue to focus on expanding the public transport market, not to make concessions to our ambitions with regard to sustainability, innovation and social entrepreneurship. And no forced layoffs. No panic football. Our shareholder Deutsche Bahn and supervisory directors were also not restless. We performed well last year and are still solid. That gave relative peace. Also because the government was prepared to go for it together.”