The Hanzelijn between Lelystad and Zwolle is the last long railway line that was built in the Netherlands
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 13:20
What do you expect from a railway line between Groningen and Lelystad? How fast should the trains run? And how many people are allowed to be inconvenienced by the line?
These are questions that will be addressed from today in the so-called participation process of the Lelylijn. Although it is still far from certain whether the railway will actually be built, residents can already let us know how and whether they envision the Lely line. And that is the first time at this stage, for a major project such as a railway line.
“Residents and stakeholders are not asked the flat question: are you for or against?”, says Infrastructure State Secretary Vivianne Heijnen. “But we really want to know what the preferences are. So that the plans can immediately count on support when they are introduced.”
However, this new phase does not necessarily mean that the construction of the railway line from the north of the Netherlands to the Randstad is any closer. The coalition agreement does state that the cabinet will release three billion euros for the construction, but that is nowhere near enough. Even a possible subsidy from Europe will not close that gap. Estimates for the construction vary between six and twelve billion euros.
Possible Lelylijn route, with a branch over the existing track to and from Leeuwarden
The Lely Line?
A railway line between Groningen and Lelystad has been a topic of discussion for more than sixty years. For decades this was done under the name ‘Zuiderzeelijn’ and maglev lines and high-speed lines passed the drawing board. In 2007, the House of Representatives decided not to build the line after all, because the Northern Netherlands would hardly benefit economically. Compensation payments followed.
A few years ago, the plan was revived again, as Lelylijn. No maglev trains this time, but a relatively normal railway line from Groningen to Lelystad, with a connection to Leeuwarden. Supported by sustainability ambitions and the housing shortage, the Lely line ended up in the coalition agreement. A project organization is now investigating it.
The Lelylijn should better connect the Northern Netherlands with the Randstad. All trains now have to travel via the Zwolle-Meppel railway line, which is prone to disruption. The Lely line would improve travel time considerably. A train ride from Groningen to Amsterdam now takes more than two hours. With the Lelylijn this would be almost an hour faster. That offers opportunities for housing, for example, is the idea of the northern provinces.
So many advantages. But the start of this new phase also marks the moment when the opposition will become louder, it is expected. Among them also people who are afraid that the line will affect the landscape, such as Wiebe Bouma, director of Landscape Management Friesland. “I’m not against it per se, but we can only spend our landscape once.”
Bouma thinks accessibility is a strong argument for the construction, but at the same time fears a significant growth in the number of industrial estates and residential areas in rural areas. “The Dutchman who goes to live in Friesland does not come for a flat or a terraced house. They want a lot of space and that is precisely what we are so careful about here.”
No Zuiderzee line
Five years ago, Daniël de Ruig and a number of others started a lobby to revive the line. He sees the railway line as an opportunity to improve the landscape in some places. “A good example is the highway between Heerenveen and Drachten that runs right through a nature reserve. The Lely line gives you the opportunity to build a wide tunnel for road and rail, so that the nature reserve becomes one again.”
De Ruig is hopeful about the current momentum around cleaner travel and less flying. And he also thinks that citizens are already involved now is a good move, although he does see a pitfall. “We have to make sure that there are not too many variants and opinions on the table. Partly because of this, things went completely wrong with the Zuiderzee line.”
Lelylijn initiative group
What Emmeloord station could look like according to the initiative group
Lelylijn initiative group
What Drachten station could look like according to the initiative group