Dutch Research Programme to Improve Passenger Railway Transport

Dutch Research Programme to Improve Passenger Railway Transport


Y H F Cheung, Ministry of Transport, AVV, NL



The Dutch Ministry of Transport and Netherlands Railways -Passenger (NSR)agreed on 12 December2000 that NSR will have the exclusive right to operate the main Dutch railway network in the next 10 years. Details of the agreement will be laid down and specified in a Performance Contract. Under the Provisional Performance Contract, guidelines had been formulated to provide an operating and management environment such that NSR would be under obligations to fulfill the policy goals of pursing an increase in the number of passengers in the peak periods and improvement in punctuality. Agreements had been reached in a Memorandum of Understanding on the outputs that could be expected from NSR in future years. To ensure the agreed objectives will be achieved, the Transport Ministry has designated a bonus-and-malus system that becomes effective as from 2001. In this carrot-and-stick approach, the Ministry has stipulated by how much and in what ways the agreed performance have to be reached in practice over time. Examples of such stipulation include the minimum level of services supplied, the opening and closing time of railway stations and the fare and ticketing system that would be accepted by the railway company.

Officals from the Transport Ministry and from NSR have also agreed to work together to develop a monitoring and evaluating system for the purpose of comparing performance of NSR with foreign railway operators of similar size and nature. The study results will be used to set future performance standards, to implement measures to improve the quality of service and to determine the relative performance of NSR in an international perspective. The policy goals and objectives are to change the decision-making processes, practices or methods on the basis of lessons learnt from good practices in order to improve operating performance and to enhance consumer satisfaction.

To enhance efficiency and to improve effectiveness, the research programme also aims to identify the factors that play a role and to understand the inter-relations that affect the absolute performance of NSR in any one year and changes in performance over a given period. If successful, the results will provide useful information to guide policy development and in refining the conditions in the performance contract.


Association for European Transport