January 30th, 2013 • The European Commission today presented proposals for further rail liberalisation. SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong, responding to the proposals, says: ‘These plans would put Europe clearly on the wrong track. If the Commission gets its way, the whole of the Dutch rail network would have to be put out to tender in 2019. Liberalisation has made train travel dearer and undermined supervision, while problems with tendering have even put passenger safety in jeopardy, as the Prorail report published today shows.’ Prorail, which controls and maintains the Dutch railway system’s tracks, was the subject of numerous criticisms in a report the publication of which was revealed by daily newspaper Volkskrant to have been held up for months by the government.
The European Commission wants to open virtually the entire rail sector to commercial operators, and ensure that rail transport companies and infrastructure providers are and remain separate. ‘The Commission’s plans derive directly from the 1990s,’ says De Jong. ‘At that time privatisation seemed to be a wonder drug which would cure all economic ills. With what we know now, such as the problems revealed in the Prorail report and the conclusions of the Dutch Senate enquiry into privatisation, we can see that the Commission’s proposals are completely outdated.’
De SP is expecting to see broad resistance to the liberalisation plans presented today. ‘I’ll be getting together with trade unions, passenger groups and like-minded MEPs to work out how we can mobilise as big a majority as possible against these out-of-date proposals,’ promises De Jong.