The funding will be used to support a feasibility study into enhanced international rail links for the southeastern Netherlands including infrastructure developments, social security in public transport, technical aspects, safety systems, train path allocation, and timetabling, fares, and rolling stock.

The proposals concern four routes:

  • Brussels – Leuven – Liège – Maastricht
  • Antwerp – Neerpelt – Weert (part of the Iron Rhine route)
  • Düsseldorf – Venlo – Eindhoven, and
  • Cologne – Aachen – Heerlen – Eindhoven.

The study is expected to cost €10m and €5m has been requested from the EU. A decision is expected on whether to award the grant by the autumn.

The Limburg provincial government anticipates that passenger volume could double or even treble if the plans are implemented in full.

Limburg has already taken the first steps to stimulate regional cross-border rail traffic through the concession for regional services, which was recently awarded to Netherlands Railways (NS) subsidiary Abellio. The concession includes a requirement for new electric rolling stock which must be authorised for operation in both Germany and Belgium. It is expected that Abellio will order Stadler Flirt 3 EMUs for these services.

Southern Limburg is part of the so-called Euregio international region, which also includes parts of the Dutch provinces of Gelderland, Overijssel, and Drenthe as well as parts of the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony. The region covers around 13,000 km² with 3.37 million inhabitants.