High Speed Train Connect Amsterdam 3 grade separated railway tunnels
Hogesnelheidstrein Connect Amsterdam
The project ‘High Speed Train Connect Amsterdam 3 grade separated railway tunnels’ (HSTConnect Amsterdam) concerns the removal of three level crossings in the municipalities of Dijk en Waard (before a merger in 2022 known as Heerhugowaard), Alkmaar and Zaanstad, all located on the Dutch comprehensive TEN-T network along the railway line ‘Amsterdam - Dijk en Waard’.
Three tunnels will replace the three level crossings.The project is located to the north of Amsterdam in the Dutch province of North Holland. This region is growing due to the attraction that the Amsterdam area has for European businesses and their European workforce. Many international organizations and expats relocate to this area, for example due to Brexit, relocation of the European Medicine Agency, a new European school in Alkmaar, etc.
Currently, about 17,5% of the population in this area has a nationality from one of the other (non- Dutch) EU Member States. In order to reduce carbon emissions and promote the use of rail for commuting, the involved municipalities in the Region have decided that all new houses that will be constructed in the next 10 years (about 60,000) need to be constructed within 1.2 kilometers of any existing train station.
In addition, about 3,2 million tourists yearly visit the Zaanse Schans (i.e. an area to which historic windmills and distinctive green wooden houses were relocated to recreate the look of an 18th/19th-century village), making this the second most visited tourist attraction of the Netherlands. The railway line ‘Amsterdam - Dijk en Waard’ is connecting this region to the three Core Network Corridors that pass in Amsterdam (North Sea-Baltic, North Sea-Mediterranean and Rhine-Alpine CNCs), thus connecting it to long distance High Speed Train (Thalys, Eurostar) and Intercity connections towards Germany, Belgium, France and the UK.
Currently, about 120,000 daily passengers are using this connection from/to Amsterdam and trains are overcrowded during rush hours. The National government decided in 2019 through its National Program High Frequent Railway (PHS program) to increase the capacity on the Dutch railway network with 50%. This means that on this part of the railway network, the number of trains need to be increased. Every hour, about 16 to 20 trains are passing each level crossing on the railway line ‘Amsterdam - Dijk en Waard’.
All municipalities along this line already experience serious traffic safety and congestion issues at their existing level crossings. These issues will only increase further if the number of trains is increased and waiting times at level crossings get longer. This road/rail conflict has reached such a critical point that no additional trains are allowed unless all level crossings along this line are removed. The Dutch government is already carrying out several infrastructural investments in railway stations, noise mitigation measures and additional rail infrastructure to make the increase of number of trains possible.
The municipalities along the railway line ‘Amsterdam - Dijk en Waard’ have started planning the removal of level crossings. This project contributes to these efforts by supporting the removal of level crossings in the three participating municipalities of Dijk en Waard, Alkmaar en Zaanstad.
The project is expecting to contribute to the following objectives/results:
- To increase rail capacity on the railway line ‘Amsterdam-Dijk en Waard’ with 50%.
- To improve rail and road safety.
- To improve the connection of the region to the international High Speed Train and Intercity rail connections in Amsterdam.
- To increase the number of passengers using carbon-free transportation (Dutch railroads run on wind farms) and thus to reduce congestion, CO2 and nitrogen emissions caused by road traffic.