Despite the track manager's good performance and compliance with agreements, the State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management has imposed a fine of 100.000 euros. Although ProRail has performed excellently in most areas in 2022, shortcomings have been identified on specific points. Compared to the previous year, there is no improvement in the performance indicators that score above the minimum values.
ProRail links these results to a series of factors. Firstly, staff shortages at NS led to unexpected train cancellations in the first half of 2022, and in the second half of the year to a changed timetable with less frequent and shorter trains. This resulted in longer stops at stations and less punctuality for travelers. In addition, 2022 was marked by some outages that had an extraordinary impact. For example, for three months no train traffic was possible between Lelystad and Zwolle due to a high-voltage cable that ended up on the overhead wires, and storm Eunice had significant consequences.
According to Article 25 of the management concession, the State Secretary has imposed a fine of 100.000 euros on ProRail, which will be used for the benefit of the freight sector. In 2022, ProRail scored below the minimum value on the performance indicator of customer satisfaction among freight transporters. According to ProRail, these carriers are mainly dissatisfied with the cooperation regarding the future and development of the railway network, the availability of infrastructure and facilities, and the coordination with regard to infrastructure work.
To gain a better insight into some of the worst-rated processes and possible improvements, ProRail will conduct an extensive qualitative survey among the carriers in the second quarter of 2023. Vivianne Heijnen has indicated in her letter to the House that she will continue to closely monitor this process.
NS is performing above the minimum values on 10 of the 11 performance indicators, although the scores were lower than in 2021, partly due to staff shortages. NS's annual report confirms that 2022 was a challenging and unpleasant year for NS, its employees and, of course, passengers. Due to the extensive scaling down in the second half of 2022 and the resulting inconvenience to travelers, the State Secretary has decided not to opt for a standard fine. Instead, it has opted for the maximum fine of € 1,5 million, as laid down in the system of fine management in the transport concession.
Heijnen acknowledges that certain matters, such as the labor market shortage and the influence of the corona pandemic on absenteeism (including quarantine) of staff, are beyond the control of NS. However, she states that this does not absolve NS of its responsibility to ensure sufficient personnel capacity at all times and to respond in a timely manner to internal and external changes that may affect this. Because she believes that a reduction in GVOV should not be detrimental to the traveler, she wants this money to be used to improve services. That is why it has decided not to reclaim the € 1,5 million, but has instructed NS to use this money for the benefit of passengers. Heijnen expects NS to draw up a plan for the use of this money and to account for it.