Provinces consider Hanzelijn Rail Connection postponement unacceptable

The provinces of Flevoland and Overijssel are extremely surprised and displeased at the postponement of the construction of the Hanzelijn rail connection. The budget to be presented today by the Transport Ministry shows that the completion of the connection between Zwolle and Lelystad has been shifted from 2009 to 2014.

The council executives of the Flevoland towns of Dronten and Lelystad call it 'completely unacceptable' that previously made commitments concerning the construction of the Hanzelijn, which is intended to improve connections with the Randstad urban conglomeration, are now being brought up for discussion again. They yesterday called on the Lower House to rescind the postponement. Overijssel Provincial Governor, G. Jansen, already made a similar appeal over the weekend.

Partly because of the provinces addressing the Hanzelijn issue, the publication embargo on the Transport Ministry budget has been withdrawn. Besides the Hanzelijn, other rail projects have also been postponed, including Randstadrail (fast connection between Rotterdam and The Hague) and the financial contribution to the North-South metro line in Amsterdam. The construction of the Betuwe line will go ahead, though.

Delaying the rail projects allows Transport Minister Roelf de Boer to invest 380 million euros extra over the next four years for creating new roads. In 2003, the motorway hard shoulder will be opened during peak periods in eleven places, and a total of 150 kilometres of these Â'rush hour lanesÂ' are planned by 2006. In addition, six stretches of motorway are to be widened as soon as possible, including the routes between The Hague and Germany and around Eindhoven.

The cabinet is also aiming at earlier construction of projects such as the second Coen tunnel and the adjustments to the A2 in Maastricht, although it does not at this moment intend to contribute to them. Local authorities and, above all, businesses are to bear the costs, but will be permitted to collect tolls. For issuing building permits, De Boer promises to scrap procedures and excessive rules, and does not intend, like the previous cabinet, 'to make allowances for everybody and everything, including rare salamander species.'

(source: NIS News Bulletin )

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