The city of The Hague no longer being directly connected to Brussels has exposed a major weakness of the HSL. This weakness is that a high-speed train in the Netherlands has to bypass a number of cities in order to achieve a speed of 300 km / hour.
Therefore the political center of The Hague now lacks a direct connection to the HSL and thus to the political center of Europe. The current travelers have to change trains at Rotterdam CS. As the travel time is longer and you also need to reserve in advance, there is more resistance to actually take the train. Also a last minute train trip for work or pleasure is much more difficult or impossible. Hence the car becomes the not so desirable alternative to travel to Antwerp or Brussels.
The Hague had previously indicated to want a direct connection to Brussels. The decommission of the old BeNeLux service while at the same time the Fyra V250 trainset can’t service Amsterdam-Brussels due to technical problems, created a small opportunity for The Hague. Now there was a direct connection to Brussels from Den Haag HS again. Although it is an emergency solution, it provides in a need of the city of The Hague.
Now the province of Brabant and the city of Eindhoven also want a connection to the HSL. A legitimate ambition. Eindhoven is the technological region of the Netherlands that can benefit from a good connection to Europe.
If we want to make maximum use of the current HSL, four lines can utilise it:
1. Amsterdam CS over conventional rail to the airport, then over the HSL to Rotterdam and Brussels.
2. The Hague CS over conventional rail to Rotterdam, then over the HSL to Brussels.
3. Eindhoven via conventional rail to Breda, then over the HSL to Brussels.
4. From Zwolle via Hanzelijn to Amsterdam Zuid, after Schiphol via the HSL to Rotterdam, Breda and Eindhoven.
But still the HSL is deficient in meeting the accessibility ambitions of cities.
With these 4 lines, the capacity of the HSL is at its maximum utilization but misses opportunities. In all 4 routes high speed trains use the normal track. Although the high-speed, intercity, sprinter, freight and work trains maxime the use of the conventional rail to the extreme, the passengers don’t gain much because the frequency of each train type sees little improvement. And in case of maintenance or emergency, you have a total infarct stopping all train services on that route and long waiting on an alternative. And the airports Den Hague / Rotterdam and Eindhoven are still not connected to the network.
Even if one were to decide to connect Den Haag and / or Eindhoven and the airport to the HSL, it would do little. The characteristics of high-speed trains make for skipping calls at some cities, or not meeting any time savings at all. So a full HSL route to The Hague and / or Eindhoven is not the solution.
The Maglev that Freedom of Mobility Foundation proposes in its vision exeeds the ambition of The Hague and Eindhoven. Not only is the travel time 2-5 times shorter, but also more calls can be made on the route. And the absolute separation from the conventional rail makes Sprinter or maglev train a direct alternative in case of an emergency or maintenance.
New infrastructure also provides opportunities for new connections. The Maglev can connect the airports Den Hague / Rotterdam and Eindhoven directly to Schiphol, but also with Brussels. As soon as Belgium and Germany recognize the benefits of Maglev, this will not only create new opportunities for The Hague and Eindhoven but for all of the Netherlands.