NETHERLANDS Transport Minister Annemarie Jorritsma-Lebink has allocated 65m guilders for work on the first stage of the ambitious Randstad Rail strategy to integrate public transport in the belt between Rotterdam and Den Haag. This is one of five pilot projects for new light rail networks in the Netherlands.

The province of Zuid Holland and the regional authorities in the two cities will also participate. For the first phase, the NS suburban line from Rotterdam Hofplein to Den Haag CS and the 1970s-built Zoetermeer loop will be modified for light rail operation at more frequent intervals. Additional stops will be built, together with ’transferia’ offering interchange between the light rail routes and existing tram and bus services. Services will be provided by NS Reizigers, bus operator Zuidwest Nederland, and the two city tram companies RET and HTM.

By 2005 Randstad Rail light rail services are due to be integrated with existing tram routes in both cities, enabling through running throughout the region. The minister has confirmed that 600m guilders will be made available in the longer term to complete the project. o