Not enough funds for TEN-T implementation in the Netherlands

Image: portofamsterdam.comPort of Amsterdam

Full implementation of all the requirements under the revised TEN-T network is not financially possible in the Netherlands. This was concluded by the infrastructure manager of the Netherlands, ProRail, based on the draft revision of the TEN-T regulation that the European Commission announced at the end of last year.

The financially available resources from the Netherlands and Europe are expected to be insufficient, ProRail concludes based on a study it carried out at the request of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. The infra manager is asking for more resources, but also suggests adjustments to the TEN-T regulation, which is still under review.

What are the requirements?

What is new in the revision, is that the ‘740-metre requirement’ must apply not only to runway lines and yards, but also to terminals. Also, 50 per cent of the capacity must be suitable for 740-metre trains.

Moreover, the core network has been extended with stricter requirements, as well as the requirements for the comprehensive network, which is one grade lower in priority from the core network. This network must also be suitable for 740-metre trains and the international security system ERTMS must be rolled out faster than previously planned.

Although ProRail sees that implementing the TEN-T requirements brings great benefits for interoperability, the economy and CO2 emissions, the rail manager also sees a number of difficulties. In particular, the adjustments required for running trains with a 740-metre length are costly.

1.6 billion

According to a global cost estimate, the adjustments to the freight corridors will cost no less than 1.6 billion euros, which is 60 per cent higher than an estimate from 2019. This is on the one hand due to ‘processing new insights’, and because the addition of measures introduced in the revision had not yet been included. On the other hand, the adjustment to the price level of 2022 also means higher costs.

85 to 90 per cent of these costs are related to measures for the running of 740-metre trains. The other costs that have to be incurred are intended for increasing train speed, and for electrification. Certain costs, such as the additional costs for maintaining the infrastructure, have not yet been included in this analysis. ProRail indicates that it wishes to conduct further research into the costs.


According to ProRail, the extent to which the measures will be feasible also depends on ongoing investigations. For example, the CEO of ProRail John Voppen states that with the current roll-out of ERTMS, the Netherlands cannot meet the new requirements in time.

However, the results of additional research into ERTMS are still being awaited. In addition, according to ProRail, separate research is also being conducted into the ground conditions to look at what is possible for running faster trains with a heavier axle load.


Apart from investigating the costs, ProRail also suggests that not all requirements are equally relevant for the rail network in the Netherlands. In the first place, ProRail recommends removing or adding some lines. The cancellation of lines, for which an exemption must be requested, mainly concerns lines that are not suitable for running freight trains or where freight trains have not been running for a long time. Lines must also be added which, according to ProRail, do have added value for freight transport, but which have not yet been included in the regulation.

ProRail also concludes that not all TEN-T requirements are equally useful for Dutch freight transport. For example, the ‘comprehensive network’ must meet a capacity requirement of two freight paths per hour per direction on two-track lines and one freight path per two hours for single-track lines. According to ProRail, this is difficult to achieve and will cost a lot. Moreover, according to the rail manager, it is not expected that this will be necessary in view of the number of trains currently running on the network.

Moving forward

ProRail emphasises that it wants to ‘give priority to the most important corridors’. This includes the adjustments for being able to operate 740-metre trains on the core and extended core freight network.

All the available financial resources must be used as effectively as possible, it states, whereby ProRail advises combining existing budgets and subsidies. It also believes that the Netherlands must join in with ‘increasing investments in the railways of our neighboring countries’.

Not counting on EU funds

The Netherlands does not necessarily count on contributions from the European Commission, says Voppen. Although it is possible that there will be further subsidies, this is by no means a certainty given the large number of applications that the EU receives. Moreover, it is now time for a European member state to actively participate in the negotiations on the new regulation and to further investigate the financial options, says ProRail.

Vivianne Heijnen, State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management, informs the House of Representatives that she has recently received the report from ProRail and therefore does not yet have a good view of the conclusions.

This article was first published on Nieuwsblad Transport. 

Author: Simone van der Lee

1 comment op “Not enough funds for TEN-T implementation in the Netherlands”

bönström bönström|26.09.22|15:53

Financing is dependant value of investment… If negative, as currently at railway infrastructure, then no sound, sustainable funding is existing, etc.
Short, heavy trains are better, than long…
Current 22,5 ton, allowed – by authorities – is not allowed by System, which, accordingly, is due or a shift, to 32,5, etc.
Regrettably, forces by System (“tara”) is too high. 80G as already at modest speeds is not acceptable… “Squats or studs”, cracks at railhead, is devastating, etc., etc.

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