The provinces of Friesland and Groningen and the Province of Friesland began planning the line after the Dutch government decided in 2007 not to proceed with construction of the Lelystad – Heerenveen – Groningen Zuiderzee line. This line would have substantially reduced journey times between the north of the Netherlands and the Randstad, and connect the town of Drachten to the railway network.

When cancelling the Zuiderzee line, the national government made funding available to northern provinces for improving infrastructure, which led to the emergence of the plan for a new Groningen - Heerenveen line.