Competition and Innovation Have Not Been Improved As a Result of the Reform of the Netherlands Railways: the Outline of an Alternative Model



Competition and Innovation Have Not Been Improved As a Result of the Reform of the Netherlands Railways: the Outline of an Alternative Model

Authors

SCHAAFSMA A A M, Raiined, The Netherlands

Description

In recent years the Netherlands Railways (NS) have been restructured in accordance with European Directive 91/440. Two train operating companies, NS Passengers and NS Cargo, have been established and infrastructure management is now paid for by the govern

Abstract

In recent years the Netherlands Railways (NS) have been restructured in accordance with European Directive 91/440. Two train operating companies, NS Passengers and NS Cargo, have been established and infrastructure management is now paid for by the government. There have been a number of changes within the Netherlands Railways.

However, from the outside hardly any positive results can be observed. The market share of the railways is not increasing and the quality of the product does not seem to have improved. This is in spite of the favourable climate for the railways. The railways have been accorded an important role in government policy to achieve "accessibility in an sustainable society ''I. The enormous investments in rail infrastructure bear witness to this. Will the principal separation of responsibility for ird~astructure and train operations not be successful? Why is this model, which has proved its worth in aviation and road transport, not as obviously successful in the railway sector?

Illustrated by the themes of competition and innovation, this paper will demonstrate that there are considerable disadvantages to drawing a sharp line between infrastructure and train operations. Of course, the tangled nature of the railways has to be unravelled. This paper will introduce a more subtle model for splitting up the railways into subsystems, based on the so-called layer model. Unless a more subtle approach is adopted we may have to conclude: "the operation has been successful, but, unfortunately, the patient has died".

The theme of this paper is how to improve the performance of the railways. Although this is necessary it will still not be enough to face the competition of the private car and the aeroplane. A fundamental improvement of the competitiveness of the railways requires radical changes, such as a policy to drive back the use of private cars. Paragraph 2 will illustrate the definition of the problem. We will subsequently describe the development of NS from a monolithic company (paragraph 3) to the currently divided organisation (paragraph 4), followed by the introduction of a more systematic separation of the railways in paragraph 5. Each paragraph will focus on the effect on competition and innovation. Paragraph 6 will conclude with a discussion.

Publisher

Association for European Transport