JOURNEY times for the hourly inter-city service between Amsterdam and Brussels were cut by half an hour on April 9, when trains were re-routed to run via the entire length of HSL South in the Netherlands and Belgium’s high-speed Line 4.
INFRASPEED, the PPP concessionaire responsible for maintaining HSL South, is seeking €10m in damages from the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure amid claims that use of conventional locomotives and rolling stock instead of lightweight high-speed trains on domestic services is causing excessive wear-and-tear on the track.
NETHERLANDS Railways (NS) has never strayed far from controversy in recent years. In January 2013 Fyra high-speed services on HSL South collapsed following the withdrawal of the AnsaldoBreda V250 trains procured specifically for the route. NS, in its High Speed Alliance (HSA) joint venture with KLM, had submitted an unrealistic bid to keep competitors off the route, and amid the disruption caused by the sudden loss of its train fleet, HSA was soon in deep financial trouble. The result was a government bailout and e1bn in unfulfilled obligations from the high-speed concession.
DUTCH secretary of state for infrastructure Mrs Wilma Mansveld resigned on October 28 following the publication of a report into the Fyra high-speed fiasco, which places the blame for the debacle squarely with various current and former government ministers as well as Netherlands Railways (NS) and Belgian National Railways (SNCB).