NETHERLANDS: This month is due to see the signing of a formal contract for operation of services on the HSL-Zuid high speed line between Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the Belgian border.
The Dutch Ministry of Transport & Water Management announced on October 17 that it had reached agreement with the preferred consortium of Netherlands Railways and Royal Dutch Airlines, and the deal would be concluded by December 12.
On November 5 the HSL-Zuid project office confirmed that the Infraspeed BV consortium selected in May to supply, install and maintain the track, signalling and power supplies (RG 6.01 p369) had put its 1·2bn financing package together. The 25-year concession will be funded by a group of European banks, including Bayrische Hypo- und Vereinsbank, ING, KBC and Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau. The European Investment Bank is to provide 400m.
A memorandum of understanding for the operating concession was signed with NS, KLM and National Express in July. Under the final deal, NS and KLM will pay 148m a year for exclusive use of the HSL-Zuid infrastructure over 15 years. Planning delays have put back the opening scheduled for December 2005, but from October 1 2006 the concessionaires will run domestic high speed services linking Amsterdam, Schiphol Airport, Den Haag, Rotterdam and Breda.
The same date should see the transfer of international highspeed services between Dutch cities, Brussels and Paris to the new route. NS and KLM expect to form a joint venture with SNCB and SNCF to operate these services, possibly as an expansion of the Thalys International consortium currently operating Paris – Brussels – Köln/Amsterdam services.