NETHERLANDS Railways’ newly formed international passenger business NS Internationaal is to launch a new overnight service with the May 2000 timetable change. A six-times-a-week service will link Amsterdam and Milano, conveying both sleeping cars and premium freight traffic. Leaving Amsterdam at 18.00, it is due into Milano at 07.50. The return working leaves at 20.00, and will reach Amsterdam at 10.37.

NS Internationaal has leased the four 200 km/h WL-MU prototype sleeping cars from Wagons-Lits for the service and will also run seats cars. The freight portion, run in co-operation with Railion Benelux (formerly NS Cargo), will carry premium traffic such as flowers, computer equipment and other lightweight high-value merchandise in former DB postal vans. With a guaranteed journey time of under 14h, against a minimum of 35h by conventional freight train, the service should be competitive against road and air in this lucrative market sector.

If the sleeper-and-parcels formula proves successful, NS Internationaal hopes to extend it to other overnight routes in the future.