Dutch company Qbuzz, a subsidiary of Italy’s national railway company Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, wants to start running trains from Amsterdam to Paris with stops in Brussels, and also to Berlin from January 2027. The company has submitted an application to regulator Authority Consumer & Market (ACM). The government had previously indicated it would make international rail connections part of the main rail network, unless applications from other providers were forthcoming in a timely manner.
“Market forces accelerate technological developments and execution quality, creating a full and accessible alternative for passengers,” said Gerrit Spijksma, CEO of Qbuzz. “Rail transport is good for the climate and the realization of (inter)national climate goals. Elsewhere in Europe we see that people take the train more often and that customer satisfaction increases after opening the rail market.”
Qbuzz’s application is not limited to international connections. The company also has plans for a connection between Amsterdam and Eindhoven, according to Belga news agency. The government wants to award the concession for the main rail network to Dutch Railways (NS), which would allow that rail company to continue providing the main connections beyond 2025.
Rail transport is good for the climate and the realization of international climate goals.Gerrit Spijksma, CEO of Qbuzz
In its application, Qbuzz refers to European legislation requiring “open access” on the railroads. The company wants the government to conduct a market analysis and determine, based on research, which train connections can be offered by the market and which train connections require public financial support. “With the results of this research, the scope of any concession can be determined,” the company reasons.
“Between Rome and Milan, thousands of travelers are enticed to take the train instead of the plane or car,” said Spijksma. “The transition from flying to rail transport was so great that Alitalia had to cut its schedule between these cities. On the railroads, this development did not lead to losers: in 2011, about 25 million passengers were transported on Italy’s high-speed line; in 2015, the figure was as high as 64 million. This success continues to this day and has resulted in the same high-speed line now operating in other European countries.
Arriva to offer rail services between Groningen and Paris via Amsterdam and Brussels
Qbuzz is the second carrier in less than a week to announce its intention to compete with NS on major international connections. Arriva Netherlands, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn, submitted last week an application to the ACM to operate its first cross-border Open Access rail service between Groningen and Paris. The proposed service aims to meet the growing demand for sustainable transportation options and the European Commission’s objective of creating more train connections across countries.
The train is expected to depart from Groningen at 05:30 and stop at Zwolle, Almere, Amsterdam South, Schiphol Airport, Rotterdam Central, Antwerp Central, Brussels South and arrive at Paris Gare du Nord at 10:40. In the other direction, the train would leave Paris at 19:15, arriving at Groningen around 00:30. Arriva plans a third daily train connection between Amsterdam and Paris in the middle of the day.
If approved, the service would start operating in June 2026, with a journey time of just over five hours. The route would connect major cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, and Paris, potentially providing competition to air travel between these destinations. The company also wants to encourage plane-to-train connections by including a stop at Schiphol Airport.
According to Belga news agency, both companies have recently announced their plans given that the Dutch government has expressed the intention to make international rail links part of the main rail network unless other applications are made in time. In that case, the concession for would once again go to state rail operator NS. The ACM will now investigate whether the proposed connections would conflict with passenger trains currently operated by NS. The companies refer to the EU’s Single European Railway Directive, which states that companies other than those that own the infrastructure have access to railway lines, as reported by Belga.