Dutch railroad projects in trouble due to vacancies, supply shortages, & regulations
Roughly a fourth of all railroad projects in the Netherlands may face delays over the long term for multiple reasons, including staff shortages and a lack of materials, said ProRail CEO John Voppen at the presentation of the infrastructure firms 2022 annual report. He said on Tuesday that there was a clear divide, because ProRail is tasked with carrying out an increasing amount of work to keep the Netherlands accessible by rail after 2030.
"But with all the international challenges the world is facing, that is almost impossible," said Voppen.
ProRail estimated that the delays will occur in the period between 2025 and 2029. Uncertainties about legislation and regulations also play a role in this. The railway company referred to the policy on nitrogen emissions as one example.
The railroad company also saw the amount of work increase last year by 20 percent compared to 2021. For this year, another 20 percent will be added, something that, according to ProRail, is "not feasible given all circumstances." Moreover, the demand for public transport will increase in the future, Voppen predicted. ProRail therefore wants to focus on smart expansion and innovations, together with rail contractors and engineering firms. This could include new stations and station expansions.
The projects that ProRail cannot carry out will be postponed to a later date. Still, the company is trying to reduce the percentage of projects which will face delays. In the coming period, ProRail wants to investigate together with other market parties how it can bring the figure down from about 25 percent so that ultimately a maximum of about 15 percent of projects become delayed.
ProRail spends approximately 1.3 billion euros on rail projects annually. In 2025 this will grow to 1.8 billion euros. That is why, according to Voppen, it is "all hands on deck to get that done." To tackle the staff shortages, ProRail recently started several initiatives, including a pilot MBO course for technicians. There, the company wants to train entrants who are already working to become train security technicians or energy supply engineers, for example.
But according to ProRail, the shortage of materials will continue to play a role this year. This was due to the lagging effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine, which had an impact on the availability, delivery times and costs of materials.
Reporting by ANP