INTRO: With 98% of civil engineering work for the HSL-Zuid project complete, tracklaying on the southern section of the 300 km/h line will be finished by the end of 2005. Wim Knopperts, Director, Project & Infra Management of the HSL Project Organisation, briefed Murray Hughes

WORK ON the first high speed line to be built in the Netherlands is making rapid progress, with tracklaying well in hand on the southern section of the route.

The project has been developed as a public-private partnership, with the government responsible for funding the substructure, a private-sector consortium having a concession to finance, design, build and maintain the railway infrastructure, and an operator awarded a concession to run both domestic and international services. The current cost of the line is €6·5bn, revised upwards from €5·3bn at 2000 prices in 2002.

Overall responsibility for the HSL-Zuid project lies with the Dutch government. Overseeing the work is the High Speed Line Project Organisation, which forms part of the Directorate-General for Public Works & Water Management.

The line runs from just south of Amsterdam to Rotterdam, where trains will regain the existing network to serve Centraal station. The new alignment restarts south of Rotterdam, continuing past Breda to reach the Belgian border at Hazeldonk. Work on the matching Belgian line as far as Antwerpen is also well in hand, and the intention is to have this part of the route ready for service in December 2006.

Six contracts were let to various civil engineering consortia (RG 4.02 p195) for construction of the substructure and formation, and Wim Knopperts, Director for Projects & Infra Management at the HSL Project Organisation, says that ’the substructure has practically been finished with 98% of work complete, and the same holds for the connections to the existing railway structure that will be ready in the course of this year’. There are five interfaces with the existing network, at Hoofddorp near Schiphol, at junctions north and south of Rotterdam, and north and south of Breda.

Among the major civil engineering works were the 7·2 km Groene Hart tunnel built to reduce the line’s impact on the fenland between Amsterdam and Rotterdam; a 6 km elevated section near Bleiswijk, famous for glasshouse horticulture; the 4 km Rotterdam Noordrand tunnel, a 2·5 km tunnel under the Oude Maas, part of which uses immersed tube construction; a 2·5 km immersed tube under the Dordtsche Kil; and the 1·1 km Hollandsch Diep bridge.

Railway equipment contract

In 2001 a 30-year railway systems contract was awarded to the Infraspeed Consortium to design, build, finance and maintain the electrical and mechanical equipment. The first five years of this contract are intended to cover construction, and in the remaining 25 Infraspeed is required to maintain the line to availability targets specified by the Project Organisation. However, under EU Directive 2001/14 the infrastructure will be managed by the Dutch national rail infrastructure company ProRail, and agreements covering the management duties have been signed by ProRail and the ministry.

The contract to operate trains on HSL-Zuid was signed in December 2001 with High Speed Alliance, a joint venture formed of Netherlands Railways (90%) and the airline KLM (10%). HSA will pay access fees amounting to €148m a year to the government for use of the line over 15 years. In turn the state will pay Infraspeed to maintain the line, with penalties coming into force if the specified 99% availability target is missed.

Infraspeed began work on tracklaying and installing other railway equipment in April 2004, and this work should be finished on the southern part of the line by the end of this year. Work on the northern section is scheduled six months behind the southern section, and target dates for Infraspeed to make the line available for trial operation are April and October 2006 respectively.

Infraspeed’s contract includes a Requirement Compliance Matrix containing 585 separate requirements that the consortium must meet before it can obtain its Certificate of Availability. The Project Organisation has defined a set of tests to check that these obligations have been met, but Knopperts points out that Infraspeed will in any case test its own systems.

Ultimately, says Knopperts, ’the HSL Project Organisation is responsible for delivery of a working high speed system on the HSL-Zuid line. To deliver that system, top-level requirements are translated into measurable issues covering safety and speed, for example. For every issue, a suitable test is or will be defined, and these issues will be tested in inter-related packages.’ In addition to these ’top-level’ tests, the infrastructure contactors (Infraspeed) and the train operator (HSA) ’have to provide evidence that they comply with the contract and with the TSI’. Knopperts points out that ’in some degree, all tests are related to each other’.

The tests to obtain the Certificate of Availability include trials at 330 km/h, which is 10% higher than the maximum line speed. For this purpose Infraspeed will use a Siemens test train, and only after the handover will the line be tested using the trains ordered by HSA.

ERTMS Level 2

A critical area for the test programme will be the train control equipment. HSL-Zuid will be fitted with Level 2 ERTMS from Siemens, and Infraspeed is responsible for development and installation of the wayside equipment: balises, radio block centres, interlockings and ground-based GSM-R installations. Knopperts confirms that ’no dual system or fallback with a conventional signalling system will be fitted’, although ’it will be possible to switch the line to Level 1 in case of a failure of the RBC or of GSM-R’. In this case line speed would be limited to 160 km/h, and Infraspeed would be subject to penalty for non-availability.

Only trains equipped with ERTMS will be able to use the line. The fleet of trains ordered by HSA will be fitted from the outset, but to allow through services from Paris to Amsterdam, it will be necessary to retrofit some or all of the four-system Thalys trainsets. The topic was mentioned at a meeting of the Dutch and French transport ministers in 2004 as the Dutch consider it important for the work to be carried out well in advance of the start of service. Were through Eurostars ever to run to and from London, they too would need retrofitting.

The agreement between the state and HSA stipulates the level of service over HSL-Zuid, as shown in the table. The international trains will be operated by a consortium formed by HSA and Belgian National Railways, and Knopperts says that negotiations with SNCF are in progress. While Thalys trainsets will operate the services to and from Paris, the services from Brussels to Breda, Rotterdam and Amsterdam will make use of the trains ordered by HSA.

HSA ordered a fleet of 12 Type V250 EMUs on May 24 2004 from AnsaldoBreda. Nine are for HSA and three for Belgian National Railways; an option exists for 14 more sets. Under the contract, the first V250 is to be available for test runs and training in April 2006, and HSA expects to have six sets ready for commercial operations by April 2007.

The trains will take power at 1·5 kV DC on conventional lines in the Netherlands, 25 kV 50Hz on the new line, and 3 kV DC in Belgium. Each 200m long set will consist of eight cars, half of which will be powered to give a continuous rating of 5400 kW. Accommodation will seat 139 first and 409 second class passengers.

CAPTION: ABOVE: A flying junction will carry southbound trains from HSL-Zuid into Breda

BELOW: This crossover at Zevenbergsche Hoek uses 1:34·7 Type F Rheda 2000 high-speed turnouts Photos:Detlef Obieray/Rheda 2000 vof

BELOW RIGHT: Tracklaying in progress on the 1·1 km bridge which takes the new line across the Hollandsch Diep to the west of the existing line Photo:HSL/Poortvliet

CAPTION: ABOVE: The elevated alignment at Bleiswijk runs for 6 km. Average height of the line on this section is 6m above ground level

RIGHT: HSL-Zuid has been buried underground in the 7·2 km Groene Hart tunnel to avoid disturbing the fen landscape between Roelofarendsveen and Leiden which was created by peat cutting in the Middle Ages


CAPTION: A 2·5 km immersed tube tunnel carries HSL-Zuid beneath the Dordtsche Kil river to the southwest of Dordrecht; here the eastern track is being installed at the southern portal

Photo: Detlef Obieray/Rheda 2000 vof

CAPTION: South of Amsterdam the HSL-Zuid alignment is twinned with the A4 motorway Photo:HSL/Poortvliet

The railway contractor

Infraspeed was established as a joint venture in 1999 by Fluor Infrastructure BV, Siemens Nederland NV and Koninklijke BAM Groep NV as the three ’industrial sponsors’. Institutional investors Innisfree and HSBC Infrastructure Ltd joined in 2000, when Infraspeed BV was established as the umbrella organisation to bid for the project work.

With the contract signed, Infraspeed BV set up Infraspeed EPC (Engineering, Procurement, Construction) to deliver the line’s assets at the availability target date. The scope of work for Infraspeed EPC covers control, command and communications, track, traction power supply and other electrical and mechanical systems.

An important item is the delivery of a performance simulation model that will provide the basis for the monthly payments after the availability target date. The target availability is 99% of operating hours, with a 5 h maintenance window every night.

Once the line has been handed over for operation by HSA, Infraspeed BV will delegate the contractual obligations to a subsidiary company known as Infraspeed Maintenance Co. IMC and its subcontractors will supply equipment for maintenance purposes and carry out the work.

TABLE: Planned daily services each way on HSL-Zuid

Number Fastest

of services journey time

in 2007 2005 2007


Amsterdam - Rotterdam 32 58min 35min

Amsterdam - Breda 32 1h 44min 1h 02min


Amsterdam - Paris* 16 4h 09min 3h 11min

Amsterdam - Brussels Midi 16 2h 39min 1h 45min

Amsterdam - Antwerpen 32 2h 09min 1h 07min

Den Haag - Brussels Midi 8 2h 08min 1h 44min

* 6 to 7 each way initially from April 1 2007

Spat between neighbours

WHILE HSL-Zuid will provide faster connections between Dutch and Belgian cities than ever before, relationships between the two countries over use of the line have been cool rather than cordial.

At one stage it appeared that delays in modernising the Belgian main line between Antwerpen and Brussels would mean up to 17min added to the planned journey times. This irritated the Dutch government, not least because High Speed Alliance was demanding compensation as journey times would not be as commercially attractive as anticipated.

The issue was serious enough to be discussed at ministerial level, and negotiations took place during 2004 and early 2005. Agreement was finally reached on March 11, with an announcement that journey times would be extended by 8min compared with those originally planned. The Belgian government is to pay compensation until upgrading is complete and the services are accelerated. HSA is expected to negotiate fresh terms with the Dutch government.

Belgium had contended that Breda - Brussels services could not be economically justified, and last month’s deal provides for eight departures a day from Den Haag to Brussels Midi, with stops at Rotterdam, Breda, Brecht, Antwerpen and Mechelen. These will be worked by the 250 km/h AnsaldoBreda trainsets.

Overshadowing the discussions has been a long-standing concern about dredging the approaches to Antwerpen where ships pass through Dutch territory. The Dutch agreed on March 11 to do this, paving the way for further development at the port. n

Contractors hurry to finish HSL-Zuid

With 98% of the civil engineering work for the HSL-Zuid project complete, tracklaying on the southern section of the 300 km/h line between Rotterdam and the Belgian border is due to be finished by the end of this year. Six months later will see the northern section complete as well, the target being to hand over the two sections for trial running in April and October 2006 respectively so that commercial operations can start in 2007. Infraspeed, the consortium responsible for design, construction, finance and maintenance of the track and railway infrastructure, holds a 30-year contract to make the line available to the train operator, High Speed Alliance. To obtain a Certificate of Availability, Infraspeed must demonstrate compliance with 584 specific requirements.

Les entrepreneurs se hâtent pour achever la HSL-Zuid

Sur la HSL-Zuid, avec 98% des travaux de génie civil achevés, la pose de voies sur la section sud de la ligne à 300 km/h entre Rotterdam et la frontière belge doit être achevée pour la fin de cette année. La section nord sera achevée à son tour six mois plus tard, la date butoir étant de remettre les deux sections pour les marches d’essais respectivement en avril et octobre 2006, afin que l’exploitation commerciale puisse démarrer en 2007. Infraspeed, le consortium responsable de la conception, de la construction, du financement et de la maintenance de la voie et de l’infrastructure ferroviaire, a un contrat de 30 ans pour mettre la ligne à disposition de High Speed Alliance, l’opérateur ferroviaire. Afin d’obtenir son certificat d’homologation, Infraspeed doit se mettre en conformité avec 585 exigences spécifiques

Auftragnehmer beeilen sich mit der Fertigstellung der HSL-Zuid

Mit 98% der Tiefbauarbeiten beim HSL-Zuid-Projekt abgeschlossen, ist die Vollendung des Gleisbaus im Südabschnitt der für 300 km/h ausgelegten Strecke zwischen Rotterdam und der belgischen Grenze auf Ende dieses Jahren vorgesehen. Ein halbes Jahr später wird auch der Nordabschnitt vollendet sein, mit dem Ziel, die Strecke für Versuchsfahrten im April bzw Oktober 2006 zu übergeben, so dass der kommerzielle Betrieb 2007 aufgenommen werden kann. Infraspeed, das Konsortium, welches für Planung, Bau, Finanzierung und Unterhalt der Gleise und der Bahninfrastruktur verantwortlich ist, hält einen 30-Jahre-Vertrag für die Bereitstellung der Strecke für den Betreiber, High Speed Alliance. Damit das Verfügbarkeitszertifikat erteilt werden kann, muss Infraspeed die Konformität zu 585 spezifischen Anforderungspunkten nachweisen

Prisa entre los contratistas para finalizar la HSL-Zuid

Completado el 98% de las obras de plataforma del proyecto HSL-Zuid, se estima que termine el montaje de vía en la sección del sur de la línea de 300 km/h entre Rotterdam y la frontera belga a finales de este año. La sección del norte se completar