NETHERLANDS: Discussions between Nederlandse Spoorwegen and Infrastructure Minister Schultz van Haegen have led to an agreement for the national operator to retain its monopoly concession covering passenger services on the designated core network for a further 10 years from 2015.

The concession will be merged with that covering the HSL-Zuid high speed line. NS will commit to spending €7bn on new trains, and will pay the state €2·4bn, with €1·4bn representing payments for the original HSL-Zuid concession which will not now run for its full term.

Key features will be a network of Sprinter, Intercity and High Speed services offering better integration with international services and regional trains, which are not part of the core network. The main routes will have services running up to every 10 min, with night-time intercity trains between main stations in the Randstad. Reflecting public concerns about recent rolling stock, the trains will be required to have toilets.

‘After a long period of intensive discussions, there are now specific proposals which will benefit the traveller’, said NS Chief Executive Bert Meerstadt on November 18. ‘This plan offers more trains, more connections and more services.’ The agreement was reached without tendering, but is still to be debated by parliament.

  • Van Haegen has reached an agreement with her German counterpart about increasing capacity on the line within Germany which links the Betuwe Route with Oberhausen in the Ruhr. The German government has allocated €1·3bn for a third track, and the Land of Nordrhein-Westfalen is also expected to contribute.