WHEN the second section of HSL-Zuid is completed at the end of this year, passengers hoping to ride over the new line will have some time to wait.

Neither the Thalys trainsets nor the V250 EMUs ordered from AnsaldoBreda for services between Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Brussels will be ready to run over the new line in 2007. A temporary service is therefore envisaged using a fleet of locomotives leased from Angel Trains, matched with coaches hired from Netherlands Railways to provide a service at 160 km/h. This now looks likely to start in September 2007.

HSA is contracted with the government to provide a service from April 2007, but without any trains it is clearly unable to do so. It is now in legal dispute with the government, which it blames for not agreeing specifications for the train control equipment early enough. The Dutch parliament’s view is that HSA is to blame and should bear the cost of the delay.

According to Denis Wiering of the Dutch Transport Ministry, the dispute is now in the hands of an independent referee, whose ruling is not expected for some months.