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Belgium’s Fyra announcement causes ripples in the Netherlands

Jun 4, 2013

The political impact of Belgium's decision to drop the Fyra high speed trains service continued to unfold on Monday, with Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem saying it is 'too early' to pull the plug, reports Dutch News. However, Dutch railway company NS is also keen to abandon the project, sources have told Nos television. But Dijsselbloem said on Monday he wanted to know 'the options, risks and financial consquences' of pulling the plug on the high-speed project. Fyra services are currently suspended because of safety concerns. One report says the final bill to the government could be as much as €500m. On Monday morning it emerged the head of NS has resigned in the wake of the chaos. Bert Meerstadt, who had been part of the NS board for 12 years, will stand down on October 1. He said he “wants to find a good transport solution between the Netherlands and Belgium” before he stands down.

The future of the high-speed rail link between Amsterdam and Brussels was thrown into confusion on Friday evening after the Belgian national railway company said it is pulling out of the project. High-speed train services between the two capitals began last December and all intercity services were stopped. But the Fyra service was dogged by problems and was suspended earlier this year. On Friday afternoon, Belgian rail operator SNCB/NMBS said it was pulling out of the Fyra project because of a string of technical problems, ranging from loose components, rust and leaks in the snow. It is not yet clear why the Belgians decided to go public with their decision on Friday or why the two companies did not present their findings jointly. The NS plans to publish its report on the Fyra problems in mid-June.

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