Dutch infra manager penalised despite good KPI performance

The Dutch rail infrastructure manager ProRail received a number of fines and periodic penalties, despite meeting all eight performance indicators set by the ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management in 2019. The shortcomings were especially in the services to rail freight operators, according to the annual report to the ministry.

For example, there was a complaint lodged by freight carrier DB Cargo about the new parking rates for freight operators. According to the Network Statement 2020, which was introduced in 2019, carriers will now pay per minute instead of per day for setting up trains in marshalling yards. The new tariff structure was intended to make it easier for carriers to plan in advance how much capacity they need. Although ProRail announced that the change would lead to a drop in costs, the carriers feared an increase. Partly because they themselves do not always have an influence on the duration of trains at a parking area.

Sharpen definition

ACM, the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets, largely declared the the complaint of DB Cargo’s unfounded. It mostly follows ProRail’s reasoning that process time must be regarded as part of the drafting service (and not train path) and that pricing from the first minute is not in conflict with the legal framework. However, the
definition of the service in the Network Statement will be made more accurate.

In November, ProRail was fined 25,000 euros because it did not publish the new rates at marshalling yard Kijfhoek railway yard in time. The rate for marshalling up and shunting at Kijfhoek was increased by 3 million euros to 3.7 million (0.7 million in 2019) as of 1 January 2020, according to the only customer DB Cargo. ProRail stated that the carrier must pay 2.2 million euros in 2020, because there is a growth scheme with a discount of 50 per cent. Following an ex-officio investigation in October 2019, ACM established that ProRail has violated the Railways Act due to the late publication of the new rates in the Network Statement 2020.

Periodic penalty payments

In addition to a fine for the rates at Kijfhoek, ProRail was also imposed a number of periodic penalties because of problems on the yards of the port of Rotterdam. On December 31 last year, the company received 23 fines, of which eight were related to safety requirements. Control measures have been taken for four of these oenalties. “Given the complexity of some violations and the fact that it is virtually impossible to repair some shortcomings quickly within the stipulated period, penalties have been forfeited and the risk of criminal prosecution remains,” said ProRail in the annual report.

In addition to ongoing enforcement cases, ProRail was forced to no longer make the Waalhaven yard available for shunting and changing locomotives for dangerous goods. This is due to problems with the extinguishing installation. In the meantime, an external independent investigation has commenced to look into the current situation in the Rotterdam port area. The results are expected to be available at the end of the second quarter of 2020.

Environmental violations

Eleven environmental violations were also detected at ProRail, which is considerably fewer than the 47 violations a year earlier. However, for eight of these violations, the railway manager was imposed a penalty order, which happened twice in 2018.

Author: Paul van den Bogaard

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