The launch of a new train service between Groningen and Paris might encounter an unexpected hurdle as the Dutch Railways (NS) has urged the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) to investigate the economic impact of this route. NS appears to be concerned that the service would compete with its own trains on the domestic leg of the journey.
Controversy and regulatory obstacles
Arriva, a regional train operator, unveiled its plans for a direct train service between Groningen and Paris, set to commence in the summer of 2026, last June. The train will stop at Zwolle, Almere, Amsterdam Zuid, Schiphol Airport, Rotterdam Centraal, Antwerp Centraal, and Brussels Zuid.
The issue arose when NS raised concerns about the potential economic impact of the new direct train service, which could threaten its own railway operations. However, the ACM initially determined that it could not conduct a comprehensive economic assessment due to uncertainties regarding the operator of the main rail network and the services covered under the main rail concession.
This impasse prevented the ACM from evaluating the potential economic impact of the new service. Despite this, NS, with its main rail concession in place until 2033, would be compensated by the government if any adverse effects were proven to arise from this “double connection.” However, to secure such compensation, a thorough economic assessment is required.
Despite not planning its own direct train service between Groningen and Paris, NS maintains that an economic assessment of the proposed route is essential. The company emphasizes that the current connectivity adequately meets the current travel demand and passenger volumes. A spokesperson for the company was quoted by RTV Noord as stating: “While a direct train to Paris would be convenient for all Dutch travelers, we believe that the existing service aligns with current travel needs and passenger numbers.”
Arriva, however, remains unfazed by the objections raised. The company’s spokesperson expressed unwavering confidence in the project, saying: “We are confident about the outcome and are moving forward with our plans. Establishing a comprehensive international rail connection demands significant time and effort.”
Arriva maintains its optimistic outlook for the service’s planned 2026 launch, even as the outcome of the ACM’s evaluation remains uncertain. Whether the ACM will uphold NS’s objection and conduct the requested economic assessment is yet to be determined.