ON MAY 11 Dutch Transport Minister Tineke Netelenbos and Finance Minister Gunnar Zalm announced that a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed for provision and maintenance of track, signalling, power supplies, noise barriers and communication systems on HSL-Zuid between Amsterdam and the Belgian border.

The Infraspeed BV consortium has been selected for a design, build, finance and maintain concession valued at 5·7bn guilders. One of the largest infrastructure contracts ever awarded by the Dutch government, the deal provides for a four-year construction period followed by a 25-year maintenance concession running to 2030.

According to the HSL-Zuid project office, a public-private partnership is ’a more attractive route than traditional procurement’, offering lower costs, faster delivery and a higher quality of service. The state will own the 100 km line, and will pay Infraspeed an annual performance fee of around 230m guilders. This will be dependent on the level of availability achieved, with Infraspeed guaranteeing an availability of over 99%.

The consortium includes Fluor Daniel, BAM/NBM, Siemens, Innisfree and Charterhouse Project Equity Investment Ltd. Finance will come from a banking consortium led by Bayerische Hypo- und Vereinsbank, ING, KBC, KfW, Dexia Public Finance Bank and Rabobank.

The superstructure concession is the last infrastructure contract to be awarded for HSL-Zuid. The line is expected to be completed between Rotterdam and Antwerpen by mid-2005, and between Schiphol and Rotterdam by the end of that year. An operating concessionaire is expected to be chosen later this year. n