INJUDICIOUS remarks during an interview with De Volkskrant have resulted in German Railway and Arriva Nederland being suspended temporarily from the bidding process for a concession to operate high speed trains on HSL-Zuid. DB’s officials not only said the proposed access charges were far too high, but went on to suggest that a rival group comprising NS Reizigers, the national airline KLM and National Express Group was being set up to win because of its close links to the government. Transport Minister Tineke Netelenbos ruled that such remarks could influence improperly the bidding procedures.

Four groups selected in October 2000 have until the end of this month to submit their bids. The other two are SJ International with CGEA-Connex and Connexxion, and Stagecoach Holdings. An advisory committee was formed on February 9 to assist with bid evaluation. The ministry says two groups will be shortlisted ’to submit a definitive version of their proposals in the summer’.

Mrs Netelenbos signed an agreement with SNCB in December covering cross-border operation between HSL-Zuid and the Belgian network. It defines matters such as ticket sales and revenue apportionment, staff deployment, the number of trains and the timetable.

  • On January 25 the minister awarded a 458m guilders contract for construction of links between HSL-Zuid and the existing network at Hoofddorp, Rotterdam Lombardijen, Lage Zwaluwe and Breda, plus modifications to existing lines.