Belgian rail’s new management contract includes bonus-malus

The Belgian government’s new management contract with the public railway company NMBS/SNCB contains a bonus-malus system. If the NMBS/SNCB does not achieve the performance indicators, it can lose up to five million euros in funds. On the other hand, if it does achieve them, a bonus of the same amount is included.

Minister of Mobility Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo) came to present the new management contract with NMBS/SNCB and rail network operator Infrabel in Parliament’s Mobility Committee on Wednesday. The agreements set out the lines at the railway for the next ten years – NMBS/SNCB had been running for years without a new management agreement.

Twelve KPIs

Twelve key performance indicators or KPIs accompany the contract. These include targets related to customer satisfaction, punctuality, number of passengers, or CO2 emissions, among others.

The contract thus also includes a bonus-malus, Gilkinet explained. In addition, a financial penalty will be applied if the ten KPIs are not met. This amounts to a deduction of up to 5 million euros a year depending on the level of performance, the contract states.

According to the minister, this evaluation system is a first for the railway company. In addition, an annual evaluation by the Federal Public Service Mobility is also planned.

€43,8 billion budget

The federal council of ministers gave the management contracts with NMBS/SNCB and Infrabel the green light at the end of December. The ambition is to attract 30% more passengers over the next ten years, double freight transport, increase the number of trains by 10% (or an additional 520 trains per day on average), and thoroughly renew the fleet.

PVDA MP Maria Vindevoghel thinks this is a cynical way of proceeding, as she says the transport company does not have the necessary resources to meet the targets. So instead, a budget of 43,8 billion euros is provided for those objectives.

Minister Gilkinet further stressed that a budgetary trajectory is also included in the contracts, thereby refuting criticism that the amounts announced in the long term would not be mobilized and that no rail links will be scrapped between 2023 and 2032.


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