The Lelylijn project, a new passenger rail service that would connect the northern Netherlands with the Randstad, might soon become a reality, Sikkom news site reports. The construction of the high-speed rail line took a step closer to beginning with a positive response last week from the European Commission to the Dutch government’s request to make the Lelylijn part of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). The decision made in Brussels makes the project eligible for funding from the Connecting Europe Facility.
By providing a more direct route between Lelystad and Groningen, the project aims to cut journey times between the outlying northern provinces and the densely-populated central urban conurbation by approximately 40 minutes. The plan also includes a few stops – Emmeloord, Heerenveen and Drachten. If approved, the line, whose total cost could exceed €10 billion, would be an important investment for Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe, and a potentially major boost to the region’s economy.
The cabinet has made an initial provision of €3 billion for developing the Lelylijn, which includes financial contributions from the provinces, but additional funding is needed.
Because the European TEN-T funding program is reserved exclusively for cross-border rail projects, the province of Groningen is keen for the Lelylijn to continue eastwards and connect Groningen with such major German cities as Bremen and Hamburg.
The new line will have operating speed of approximately 200 km/h. The northern provinces have said that they could build about 220,000 additional homes to help combat the housing shortage in the country if the railway infrastructure is improved and faster rail connection with the Randstad is built.