NETHERLANDS: The Qbuzz subsidiary of FS Group company Busitalia has been formally awarded its first combined main line rail and bus operating contract in the Netherlands.

The concession covers bus services in Drechtsteden, Alblasserwaard and Vijfheerenlanden municipalities in the area between Utrecht and Rotterdam, as well as the MerwedeLingelijn regional rail route between Geldermalsen and Dordrecht, and cycle and car sharing services.

Arriva and EBS had also bid for the contract, which was confirmed in late February following the expiry of a six-week standstill period. The contract is worth around €48m/year and runs for eight years from the end of 2018, with options for two-year and five-year extensions.

Qbuzz said it would invest around €45m in electric buses as well as refurbishing the train fleet with new seats, wi-fi and USB sockets. The trains will receive the R-net regional branding used across the Randstad area.

Qbuzz is the third largest public transport operator in Netherlands, managing bus and light rail services in Utrecht and Groningen-Drenthe which carried 90 million passengers and generated revenue of €200m in 2017.