Dutch railway foundations not suitable for fast trains: ProRail

NS Train (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Alf van Beem)NS Train (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Alf van Beem)

The foundation of the Dutch rail network is in many places not suitable to run trains faster and at higher frequency, a spokesperson for ProRail confirmed to NU.nl after TU Delft professor Rolf Dollevoet raised concerns in the Telegraaf. If the rails become even busier, some parts of the foundation could collapse.

A large part of the Dutch rail network is built on weak clay or peat soils. "Solid sandy soils are scarce in the Netherlands. Parts of the track regularly sink due to the weight of trains and rain and poor drainage. Together with contractors, we look for solutions for this", the ProRail spokesperson said to NU.nl. "The subsurface needs to be strengthened in many places to prepare train traffic for the expected mass use." This includes the construction of new rails, points, bridges, and viaducts.

In order to cope with the ever increasing number of train travelers, NS plans to run trains more frequently and faster. But that is not possible everywhere at the moment, professor Dollevoet said to the Telegraaf on Tuesday. "We want to drive 200 kilometers per hour everywhere, preferably every 10 minutes. That is out of the question on the current foundation", he said to the newspaper. He worries that weak spots will only be identified when it is already too late to fix it.

According to Dollevoet, ProRail can solve part of this problem with preventive maintenance and extra cement under weak parts. ProRail estimates that this will cost hundreds of millions of euros, as this problem occurs everywhere in the Netherlands.