This is the main conclusion of Document No. 3:4 (2003-2004) The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation of State procurement of passenger transport services from NSB, which was submitted to the Storting on 14 November 2003. The public appropriations via the procurement scheme are an important source of revenue for NSB, enabling NSB’s passenger transport services to be profitable, and in 2003 amounted to about NOK 1.4 billion.
Public administration of NSB is meant primarily to be exercised through the agreement on public procurement of passenger transport services. The investigation shows that in the period 1997-2001, passenger traffic within this scheme fell by 11.8 per cent. At the same time, there has been a growth in the number of train-kilometres of 10.2 per cent and a cost increase of 12.5 per cent. This means that the State has received less and less passenger traffic for the money it appropriates for the purchase of train transport services.
The investigation shows that the Ministry of Transport and Communications is too little focused on getting people to take the train more. The Ministry’s requirements and their follow-up are often detailed and only oriented towards the running of the trains. The result is lack of overall management on the part of the Ministry of Transport and Communications and lack of freedom for NSB. The Ministry of Transport and Communications agrees that its management should become more result-oriented and have a paramount focus. Through competitive outsourcing and use of quality contracts, the Ministry of Transport and Communications will change its management so that it emphasises the results of the train operations.
The investigation shows that cancellations and delays are mostly related to factors for which either NSB or the Norwegian National Rail Administration are responsible. The Ministry of Transport and Communications has the paramount responsibility for taking coordinated and goal-oriented measures to reduce these operational problems.
The investigation also shows that bus transport is to an increasing degree being included in the agreed production as an ordinary and planned component. The Office of the Auditor General has raised the question whether this is in accordance with the preconditions for the scheme of public procurement of passenger transport services from NSB. The Ministry of Transport and Communications states that extensive replacement of train departures by bus departures does not correspond with the preconditions for the scheme.
The document is available in Norwegian from the Office of the Auditor General’s website – www.riksrevisjonen.no -- or can be ordered from the University bookshop Akademika, tel. +47 22 11 67 70.