Soon Groningen to Amsterdam might take the same amount of time as Amsterdam to Brussels
Translated by Thomas Ansell
As reported by the Omrop Fryslân, a high-speed rail link between the North and the Randstad is coming closer to reality following the announcement of a ‘National Growth Fund’ (Nationaal Groeifonds). The funds will be supplied with 20 billion euros by the Dutch government, and a third of it is intended to be used to help infrastructure projects.
The Province of Friesland thinks that it is likely to get a contribution to the ‘Lelylijn’ from the funds. Deputy Avine Fokkens (VVD) says that the project ticks most of the boxes: “the funds are intended for projects that have a national importance. [With the Lelylijn] here we want to connect our regions, improve lifestyles in the North, and take pressure off the Randstad.”
Sieger Dijkstra, the head of the VNO-NCW Noord (a part of the national employers federtation) says: “we think good opportunities can come from this rail line. It’s been a strong wish for us for years, and it makes the North more accessible.” The question now remains as to whether the fund would pay for the entire project. A third of the 20 billion fund is for infrastructure, and the Lelylijn is predicted to cost between 3 and 6 billion euros to complete.
Minister Wiebes (Economic Affairs/Climate, VVD) and Minister Hoekstra (Finance, CDA), are reported to have said that the rest of the fund is intended to help with the development of ‘knowledge and innovation’. Dijkstra says that this is promising for the North, too: “we do a lot in the realm of energy and sustainability. I think that one beneficiary could be the development of green hydrogen, which is something lots of companies in the North are focusing on. As an organisation we’ll try to stimulate our members to apply for the funds”.
All applications to the fund must ask for more than 10 million euros. A panel of experts will consider each application, and Minister Wiebes thinks that the first grants will be made before the next Dutch elections in 2021.