"High speed train will change residential patterns"
The new high speed rail link could change residential patterns in the Netherlands.25 March 2008
UTRECHT – Commuting between Amsterdam, Schiphol and Rotterdam still sounds like a recipe for hours of wasted time in traffic jams or on public transport. The travel time will be halved however after the start of the high speed train, expected in October 2008.
"This means that you can easily live in Rotterdam and work in Amsterdam, which would currently be a small nightmare because of the travel time in the rush hour," says Bert Meerstadt, commercial director of the Dutch Railways (NS), in an interview that appears Tuesday in NVMagazine, the professional journal of the NVM real estate brokers' association.
Living in Rotterdam and working in an office in the Zuidas area in Amsterdam will be an excellent option once the HSL connects the Netherlands' two largest cities in 37 minutes. National airport Schiphol will then be only a 19-minute journey from Rotterdam CS.
The Dutch Railways, after the State the largest land owner in the Netherlands, will spend EUR 137.5 million in the coming years to renovate the stations along the high speed line. The State will invest EUR 1.2 billion in the central stations in Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague, Arnhem and Breda and the new station Amsterdam Zuidas.
Meerstadt compares the launch of the high speed line and the investments in stations and station areas to the construction of Roman roads: "That led to the development of settlements, which thanks to good accessibility grew into major cities, particularly where those roads intersected with waterways," Meerstadt says.
"Now it is the case that new roads – the high speed line – are being opened that enable people to travel very quickly from one economic core to another."
"People will adapt their residential patterns. These kinds of rapid connections can help people continue to live at some distance from their workplace, and not have to move if they get a new job for instance. If the extra travel time is shortened, that will give rise to different residential patterns."
Meerstadt expects that HSL-Zuid will be fully put into operation at the end of this year or beginning of next, including international transport over the border with Belgium. The border crossing is technically complicated, mainly with regard to the safety systems.
That has caused a great deal of delay so far. Transport Minister Camiel Eurlings has for some time only mentioned 'target dates', rather than firm starting dates, for opening the HSL-Zuid to train traffic.
"When the HSL can run depends on when the State delivers the infrastructure to us," Meerstadt explains.
"This is closely connected with safety. No risks are being taken in that area, and rightly so. After the delivery, which now looks like it will be end of the summer, there will be a 6-month testing period with HSL equipment. Then the high speed trains can start running. So the time is soon approaching."
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2008]