Arriva was awarded the contract in June after the discovery of irregularities in the tendering process led to the disqualification of the preferred bidder, Netherlands Railways (NS) subsidiary Abellio.
Veolia Transport Netherlands launched an appeal against the province's decision to award the concession to Arriva after it became clear that Abellio had committed fraudulent behavior in the bidding process, demanding that the tendering process be restarted.
In the original tender Veolia submitted an invalid bid and was subsequently excluded from the competition. The annual budget for the contract was €55.5m, while Veolia's bid required more than €59m.
Veolia argues that a new tender is necessary and unavoidable and that the concession cannot be awarded to Arriva. Veolia's bid was harmed by late and inaccurate information and pricing from several NS subsidiaries, which offer auxiliary services and facilities to users of the Dutch rail network. This concerns aspects such as ticket vending machines and facilities at stations. Veolia says its bid was also negatively affected by industrial espionage committed by NS and its subsidiaries Abellio and QBuzz.
However, Veolia's arguments have been rejected by both the province of Limburg and the neighbouring province of Gelderland, which has an interest in the tender concerning the operation of services on the Cuijk - Nijmegen line. The Limburg government points out that it has no legal obligation to tender the contract again, even if a bidder has behaved in an anticompetitive manner, and has therefore decided that the contract will remain with Arriva. Veolia now has a six week period in which it can file an appeal against the decision in the Court of Justice.
Under the 15-year concession, which begins in December 2016, Arriva will operate all regional rail services in the province, and at the start of the concession this will encompass five lines:
- Maastricht Randwijck - Kerkrade Centrum (Heuvelland Line, electrically operated) currently operated by Veolia
- Roermond - Venlo - Nijmegen Maas Line (diesel service), currently operated by Veolia
- Maastricht Randwijck - Roermond electric regional services, currently part of the core network concession operated by Netherlands Railways (NS)
- Heerlen - Roermond electric regional services, currently part of NS core network, and
- Heerlen – Aachen Main Station (Germany).