Open Access Rail Operators Plan Netherlands Services

Two open access rail operators have filed an application with the Dutch authorities for new train services linking the Netherlands to France and Germany.

The two operators, Arriva and Qbuzz, submitted their requests to the Dutch Consumers and Markets Authority (ACM) signalling their intention.

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A Dutch intercity train arrives at the station of Rotterdam. ©Paliparan


Transport company Arriva, which is formally part of the German Railways (Deutsche Bahn), plans to operate a new international train linking cities across the Netherlands and Belgium with France.

Arriva’s proposed international train service would link Groningen in the north of the Netherlands with the French capital in Paris.

Between Groningen and Paris, the train would stop in the Dutch cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, as well as in Antwerp and Brussels in Belgium.

The new service would depart Groningen at 5.30am and arrive at Paris Gare du Nord at 10.40am, with the return journey leaving Paris at 7.15pm and arriving in Groningen at 00.30am.

In addition to this service, Arriva also plans a mid-day international train between Amsterdam and Paris.

arriva netherlands open access rail train
Arriva already operates some train and bus services in the Netherlands. ©Screenshot Arriva


Arriva Group CEO Mike Cooper said that Arriva already has a lot of experience operating open access rail services in the United Kingdom, where it operates trains under the brand name Grand Central.

In the Netherlands, Arriva operates a daily open access train in the middle of the night from Groningen to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

Mr Cooper explained: “The Open Access operating model means the train operator carries all the associated costs and risks with the services, without any government concession or subsidy.”

Arriva hopes to commence its proposed new train service in the summer of 2026.

the hague netherlands train station
Railway station in The Hague, Netherlands. ©Paliparan


Another transport company, Qbuzz, filed an application with the Dutch Consumers and Markets Authority to start three new train services.

Qbuzz also wants to operate open access trains between Amsterdam and Paris, as well as between Amsterdam and Berlin.

Besides these two services, Qbuzz also wants to operate a domestic Dutch connection between Amsterdam and Eindhoven.

Qbuzz is owned by the Italian State Railways (Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane) and can therefore also draw on lots of experience when it comes to open access rail.

The Italian National Railways already operates open access high-speed train services in France (under the brand Trenitalia France) and in Spain (under the Iryo brand).

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Qbuzz plans to operate trains from Amsterdam to Berlin. ©Paliparan


According to Gerrit Spijksma, the CEO of Qbuzz, open access rail has proven to result in lower prices for consumers, as demonstrated by the experience of the Italian State Railways (FS) in Italy.

Spijksma said: “Since 2012 FS faces competition from Italo under the open access model. Due to the increased transport offer, travellers benefit from higher frequencies and lower prices.

“Between Rome and Milan, thousands of travellers are tempted to take the train, rather than the plane or car.”

Qbuzz hopes to use Frecciarossa high-speed trains to operate the new open access rail connections from the Netherlands to France and Germany.

The company hopes to start their proposed international services in January 2027.

open access rail frecciarossa
A Frecciarossa high-speed train. ©Paliparan


The proposed open access rail services from the Netherlands to France would compete directly with Thalys if approved by the authorities.

At the moment, French-Belgian high-speed train operator Thalys has the monopoly on services between Amsterdam and Paris.

In my opinion, the introduction of new open access entrants is highly welcomed to improve connectivity and lower fares, especially considering the relatively high prices of Thalys trains, which are often fully booked.

thalys train
A Thalys high speed train riding across a railway bridge in the Netherlands. ©Screenshot Thalys


Two transport companies, Arriva and Qbuzz, plan to operate international open access rail services from and to the Netherlands.

Arriva plans to operate trains between Groningen, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Brussels and Paris.

Qbuzz also plants to operate trains between Amsterdam and Paris, as well as between Amsterdam and Berlin.

Both companies filed open access rail applications with the Dutch Consumers and Markets Authority.

If approved, Arriva hopes to start operating their trains in the summer of 2026, while Qbuzz eyes January 2027 as the start date for their new services.

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Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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