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Route of the HSL-Zuid
Locale Netherlands
Opening 7 September 2009
Line length 125 km (78 mi)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification 25 kV 50 Hz
Route map

HSL-Zuid (Dutch: Hogesnelheidslijn Zuid, English: High-Speed Line South), is a 125 km-long high-speed railway line in the Netherlands to the Belgian border, with a branch to Breda. Together with the Belgian HSL 4 it forms the Schiphol–Antwerp high-speed railway. Originally scheduled to be in service by 2007, the first public operations began on 7 September 2009, after a ceremony on 6 September.[1]

Intercity Direct operates between Amsterdam and Breda, for the time being with conventional carriages and rented TRAXX locomotives.

On 13 December 2009 Thalys began services from Amsterdam to Paris and Brussels on the HSL-Zuid.

Rijkswaterstaat, an agency of the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, is responsible for the organization of the project. The government awarded the largest ever public-private partnership (PPP) contract to the consortium Infraspeed until 2030; it is responsible for design, construction, financing and maintenance. The line will feature state-of-the-art technology, including ETCS level 2 train control systems provided by Siemens AG and Alcatel (activities now part of Thales), and will be an ERTMS 2.3.0 Corridor.


Track near Lage Zwaluwe.
Rail tunnel under the Dordtsche Kil

Between Amsterdam and Schiphol, and around Rotterdam, high speed trains operate on the existing line.

South of Schiphol the dedicated high speed tracks begin, parallelling the existing railway line until Nieuw-Vennep. The line then branches off eastwards, continuing along the west side of Roelofarendsveen and Hoogmade and entering a tunnel east of Leiderdorp. This tunnel was built to protect the character of the Groene Hart region. North of Zoetermeer the train line leaves the tunnel west of Hazerswoude-Dorp; it subsequently passes to the east of Benthuizen, and on an elevated track east of Zoetermeer, then back on the surface between Berkel en Rodenrijs and Bergschenhoek, and after a tunnel, joins the existing line again north of Rotterdam.

Trains run briefly on existing tracks for a few kilometres before entering the high speed line again. At Barendrecht the two tracks cross each other and the trains begin left-hand running as in Belgium, France and the United Kingdom. From here the line runs next to the existing railway as well as the Betuweroute, continuing through the Hoekse Waard area, bypassing Dordrecht. South of Dordrecht, the line runs next to the A16 motorway with a branch spurring off to the city of Breda. South of Breda, the line again follows the motorway towards Antwerp in northern Belgium. At the Belgian border, it connects to HSL 4, which carries on to Antwerp, with an existing line from Antwerp to Brussels.

  • Voltage: 25kV AC (Between Amsterdam and Schiphol and around Rotterdam: 1500V DC)

Travel times[edit]

The new line is expected to shorten travel times for international and domestic services.

  • Amsterdam-Rotterdam, 62 km, 0:43 (currently 0:58)
  • Amsterdam-Breda, 105 km, 0:59 (currently 1:44)
  • Amsterdam-Antwerp, 152 km, 1:10 (currently 2:00)
  • Amsterdam-Brussels, 199 km, 1:44 (currently 2:40)
  • Amsterdam-Paris, 492 km, 3:13 (currently 4:11)[2]
  • The Hague-Brussels 1:44 (currently 2:17)
  • Breda-Brussels 0:59 (currently 1:44)

But from Roosendaal the travel times will be longer:

  • Roosendaal-Brussels 1:16 (not including the change of trains in Breda) (currently 1:08)

Thalys reported that its trains would start using the line from December 2009, with Paris-Amsterdam journeys being 3h45m and Brussels-Amsterdam journeys being 2h23m, on account of a plan to gradually increase the line speed, with the same trains in June taking 3h18m and 1h58m. However, recent[when?] timetables show that the fastest Thalys trains do these journeys in 3h18m and 1h53m, suggesting that the speed-up had already occurred.[3]

Fares and tickets[edit]

On the domestic Fyra services (Amsterdam - Schiphol - Rotterdam - Breda) all regular NS tickets are valid. Since 1 January 2013, there is no supplement required for journeys between Amsterdam Centraal and Schiphol airport. For other domestic Fyra trips, the supplement (Dutch: toeslag) is fixed at €2,30 for 2nd class and at €3,00 for 1st class (2013 prices).[4]

The international Fyra Service (Amsterdam - Brussels) with the new V250 trainsets, delivered by the Italian company AnsaldoBreda, was temporarily suspended on 18 January 2013, due to technical and safety issues with the trainsets.[5]

On Thalys special tickets are required.


The following services are planned for the HSL-Zuid:

  • (in service) 1 train per hour: Amsterdam Centraal – Schiphol – Rotterdam Centraal – Antwerpen Centraal – Brussels South – Paris North (Thalys)
  • 1 train per hour: Amsterdam Centraal – Schiphol – Rotterdam Centraal – Antwerpen Centraal – Brussels South
  • (in service) 2 trains per hour: Amsterdam Centraal – Schiphol – Rotterdam Centraal – Breda
  • 2 trains per hour: Amsterdam Centraal – Schiphol – Rotterdam Centraal
  • 8 trains per day: Den Haag Centraal – Rotterdam Centraal – Breda – Noorderkempen – Antwerpen Centraal – Mechelen – Brussels Central – Brussels South
  • 1 train per hour: Noorderkempen – Antwerpen Luchtbal – Antwerpen Centraal

The shuttle services between Amsterdam and Brussels will be branded by the High Speed Alliance as Fyra. Temporary trains for services insode \holland will be used until new trains are ordered by NS Highspeed. The service from Amsterdam to Paris will continue to be covered by Thalys.


In October 2010, Deutsche Bahn announced plans to directly connect Amsterdam and Rotterdam with London, using the Channel Tunnel. This proposal would see services from London formed of a pair of DB's Class 407 international ICE units, which would then divide in Brussels, with one train to Frankfurt and the other to Amsterdam. At approximately the same time, Eurostar also announced proposals to run services direct to Amsterdam, which would use its planned new e320 trains, and would be capable of operating on the infrastructure of the Dutch classic network as well as HSL-Zuid.

ETCS Problems[edit]

Initially the HSL-Zuid route supported speeds of up to 160 km/h on both the southern Rotterdam - Breda and the northern Rotterdam-Schiphol section of the line. This was because ETCS Level 2 had not commenced operations and Level 1 was still in use. Various reliability issues prevented the use of Level 2 for sustainable commercial service.[6] . Another issue was that the updated ETCS software of the Bombardier TRAXX locomotives was not certified for ETCS Level 2 operation. Railway Gazette reported in April 2011 that certification had been achieved and indeed Level 2 operations began on the southern section in May 2011 with Fyra services running at up to 160 km/h and Thalys at up to 300 km/h.[7] Level 2 went into operation on the northern part of the line in September 2011 and Thalys trains were then able to commence 300 km/h operations on that section. The V250 Fyra trains were hoped to enter service in December 2011 and indeed trial service (without passengers) began using first one, then two trains. As of March 2012 driver and train crew instruction runs were taking place with scheduled, non-passenger-carrying V250 interleaved between the passenger services and it was expected that these units would begin passenger operation in April 2012. The ETCS systems of wayside (Thales) and onboard (Traxx: Bombardier; Thalys & V250: Ansaldo STS) are interworking satisfactorily. With changes in the NS concession arrangements from 2015, it is possible that the ETCS-equipped TRAXX locos might be re-deployed from Fyra to other NS services using their 160 km/h capability on the ETCS infrastructure HSL-Z, Amsterdam-Utrecht and Hanzelijn. Alternatively, they could be redeployed to freight services on the Betuweroute / Havenspoorlijn.

V250 Problems[edit]

Trains were ordered at the Italian train manufacturer AnsaldoBreda and were delivered in mid-2009. On 18 January 2013 the services with the trains stopped due to technical difficulties. In June 2013 NS Highspeed announced the trains were so poorly manufactured that they would not be used anymore. The trains already delivered are now standing at a train yard in Amsterdam. AnsaldoBreda assured NS they are in fine condition. In August 2013 the Belgian railways, NMBS, brought out a report in which they said they were not planning on using the train stets anymore either, based on their bad experiences with the trains and an accident involving a door falling off one of the train sets. The trains have now got an immobilisation ban in Belgium. In the Netherlands, the trains are taken out for a short ride every two weeks at night to prevent corrosion. The trial between NS, NMBS and AnsaldoBreda is still going on, and diplomatics expect it to last for a few years.

See also[edit]

HSR network around the Netherlands


External links[edit]