THE NETHERLANDS government has allocated 31m guilders for upgrading the rural branch from Zutphen to Winterswijk and Doetinchem, ready for the introduction of lightweight railcars next year. The route was one of 33 unprofitable NS lines identified for transfer to regional operation. It became the responsibility of the province of Gelderland from May 30 1999, when services were taken over by the Syntus consortium of NS Reizigers, conneXXion holding and Cariane Multimodal International.

Under the IGO+ (Integratie Gelderland Oost) strategy, Syntus is to launch on June 10 2001 a half-hourly service, using 11 Lint 41 railcars ordered from Alstom-LHB in April 1999. The state funding will enable NS Railinfrabeheer to install automatic barriers at 11 level crossings and fit ATB equipment allowing 130 km/h operation. Railinfrabeeher will also build a station at Winterswijk West and a small servicing depot.