ARRIVA Netherlands has announced plans to introduce a direct train service between Groningen, in the northeast of the Netherlands, and Paris starting in June 2026.

The new Arriva service would depart from Groningen at around 05.30 and arrive in Paris Gare du Nord at 10.40, while the return service would depart from Paris at 19.15, arriving in Groningen at about 00.30, with a third daily service linking just Amsterdam and Paris in the middle of the day.

The Groningen - Paris service would stop at Zwolle, Almere, Amsterdam South, Schiphol Airport, Rotterdam Central, Antwerp Central and Brussels South.

Arriva says it will draw on its experience operating open-access night trains which it introduced in December 2022 between Groningen and Schiphol Airport.

Arriva also says that it is working on plans for other routes from Dutch cities to destinations in Belgium and France.

Permission sought

Arriva has requested permission from the Dutch Consumer and Market Authority (ACM) to introduce the new Groningen - Paris service. ACM will assess the commercial impact of the proposed service on trains operated by Netherlands Railways (NS) under its current main line concession, which expires at the end of 2024, and determine whether the Arriva service will endanger the economic equilibrium of the current NS concession.

Under the rules of the European Union’s (EU) Fourth Railway Package, there is a small opening of the market in the Netherlands for operators other than NS.

Arriva’s proposed Groningen - Paris service is related to the Dutch government’s intention to grant a new main line concession directly to NS, which would give NS an exclusive right to operate public passenger train services in the Netherlands.

It is intended that international train services will also become part of the concession, thereby giving NS exclusive rights to operate any passenger train service on the Dutch main line network. This is despite the liberalisation of international train services in the EU.

However, international train services for which requests have been filed before June 10, as well as existing open access services, are unaffected by the new 10-year mainline concession which will come into force in 2025.