High speed train links Breda, Schiphol, and Groningen in gov’t billion euro infrastructure plan

Crowded train station in the Netherlands
Crowded train station in the NetherlandsIijjccooWikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA

The Dutch government is pushing over a billion euros into improving accessibility within the Netherlands. Schiphol Station will undergo major renovations for 237 million euros, and a high speed train line will soon link the northern cities of Leeuwarden and Groningen with the rest of the country, Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen and State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven of Infrastructure and Water Management said in a letter to parliament.

"It is great that we can take new steps for all motorists, train travelers and truck drivers who are on the road every day. Extra action to improve our roads, rail and public transport is desperately needed because it is becoming increasingly busy", Van Nieuwenhuizen said. "We focus on major bottlenecks and good accessibility in all regions. Essential for the Netherlands, so that everyone arrives at their destination as safely and as quickly as possible."

Over 500 million euros will be pushed into road widening and public transport between Amsterdam and Hoorn. The A7 and A8 highways in Noord-Holland will be widened and the measures will be taken to ensure that the local road network is better connected. The investment must also create space to build 40 thousand new homes above Amsterdam.

380 million euros will be invested in the region around Utrecht. Nine thousand new homes are to be built around the city of Utrecht, possibly connected to a second intercity station. That is still being investigated. Utrecht-Lunetten station will be merged with the yet-to-be-built Koningsweg station to create a larger station that can be used by travelers currently using Utrecht Centraal. The Ministry hopes that this will relieve the already busy Central Station.

"The need for housing in the Utrecht region is great. But we can only build houses if accessibility is in order. That is why it is good that we ensure that smart public transport connections are made and that the region ensures that sufficient houses can be built", Van Nieuwenhuizen said. 

Renovations to the train station at Schiphol Airport will cost an estimated 237 million euros and must be completed in 2025. The Dutch government will contribute nearly 80 million euros. The airport, and the Amsterdam Transport Region will each contribute 70 million euros. NS will carry the rest. Access gates will be installed at the station. The Schiphol Plaza passenger hall will be enlarged so that train- and plane passengers can be separated. The Minister hopes that the underground station will soon be able to handle around 125 thousand travelers a day, up from the current 109 thousand a day. 

Millions will be pushed into improving the rail network to the north of the country. The Ministry gave NS and ProRail the green light to install the necessary switches between Schiphol and Amsterdam-Zuid to make a high speed line to Leeuwarden and Groningen possible. Eventually these trains will run from Breda past Rotterdam, Amsterdam-Zuid, Lelystad and Zwolle to Leeuwarden and Groningen. NS hopes to start using the high speed line in 2023.

On the Hanze line between Lelystad and Zwolle, the maximum speed for trains will be increased to around 160 kilometers per hour. Elsewhere, trains may soon run at 200 kilometers per hour. Commuters between Breda and Zwolle in particular will see their travel time decrease, by 30 minutes or more. 

The government is also pushing money into solving traffic problems on the A50 highway. Nearly 70 million euros from the government and 17 million euros from the provinces of Noord-Brabant and Gelderland will be used to widen the highway at Ewijk, Bankhoef and Paalgraven junctions, among other things.