The rail concession, which comes into effect in December 2016, covers the operation of the Maastricht Randwijk – Heerlen – Kerkrade Centrum Heuvelland Line and Nijmegen – Venlo – Roermond Maas Line services, currently operated by Veolia, together Roermond – Maastricht Randwijk and Sittard – Heerlen stopping trains. The latter services are currently run by Netherlands Railways (NS) under the core network concession awarded by the Dutch government, but responsibility for tendering has passed to the provincial government due to political dissatisfaction with NS's performance.
NS is not bidding directly for the contract but its international subsidiary Abellio is participating in the tender.
Veolia argues that the terms of the procurement give NS an unfair advantage because it can afford to bid for the services below cost by subsidising operations from profitable areas of its business. It also claims NS has exclusive access to certain data because it manages stations, and owns ticket machines at all stations, even those where it does not operate any train services.
Veolia claimed in court that NS should be excluded from the tender, although the judge rejected this on October 16 ruling that there are no legal grounds for barring the national operator from bidding. The court also ruled that the province of Limburg is not liable for any potential advantage NS or its subsidiaries might have in the tender.