NETHERLANDS Minister of Transport Tineke Netelenbos should be pleased with the response to the call for bids to run international passenger services on the future HSL-Zuid between Amsterdam and Antwerpen. Among the 13 respondents were domestic organisations and firms from Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden and Britain, where Virgin Trains expressed an interest but said it was not submitting a formal bid. A shortlist and possible preferred bidder may be announced later this year. Netherlands Railways has been given until September 1 to bid to run domestic services over the line.

Meanwhile the first Dutch ICE3 set has been delivered to the Leidenscham depot, which is being altered to accommodate them. Leidenscham will maintain the ICE3s for five years. Trial running will be carried out initially on the Flevo line, and the aim is to run special services via Hengelo to the Expo 2000 event in Hannover next summer before regular ICE services start between Amsterdam and K