Betuweroute welcomed its first high-speed passenger train

High-speed international passenger trains have begun using the vital Betuweroute rail freight line linking the Port of Rotterdam and Europe’s hinterland as a result of long-term engineering works in the eastern part of The Netherlands. Dutch rail infrastructure manager ProRail has carried out line adjustments and rigorous tests to make the custom-built freight line suitable for Inter-City Express (ICE) services travelling from The Netherlands to Germany and beyond.

The international ICE train from Amsterdam to Basel was the first to run this ten-year-old freight track.

As the main rail route for transporting goods from the western Netherlands to Germany – and across the continent as part of the core Rhine-Alpine European Rail Freight Corridor – the Betuweroute track is not normally suitable for passenger trains because of specific requirements regarding safety and energy supply, says ProRail.

“ProRail handled all this at a rapid pace and after a number of test drives this alternative diversion route has now been released for passenger transport with the ICE,” says the line manager. “The use of this can only be allowed by ProRail’s traffic control in exceptional cases, because the Betuweroute first of all remains a rail freight line.”

The Betuweroute is now reasonably used. But there is also another problem, of technical nature. Only the ICE, Thalys and IC Direct can run on the Betuweroute. Because there is 25 kV on the overhead line, instead of 1500 V on the ‘normal’ track. And  besides that there is a different security system than the usual ATB, and one can not use passenger trains through the tunnels, because there are few emergency exits for a large group. Only the part between Meteren and Elst is suitable because there are no tunnels there.


Photo: Treinreiziger

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