The head of Belgian’s railway company NMBS has reacted furiously to criticism of the way he announced that Belgium would pull out of the Fyra high-speed train project, saying Dutch ministers were told in advance.
According to Belgian media, the Netherlands has now apologised for comments made about the decision by finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who said last week he was ‘not amused’ by the Belgian decision.
Dijsselbloem also accused Belgium of putting ‘enormous pressure’ on the Dutch decision-making process, the Volkskrant reports on Wednesday. The apology has been seen by Belgian newspapers.
NMBS chief executive Marc Descheemaecker told newspaper De Morgen both Dutch railway firm NS and transport minister Wilma Mansveld were told of the decision four days before the Belgian firm went public.
The NMBS said on May 31 it was cancelling its order for Fyra trains to run between Amsterdam and Brussels because of serious safety concerns. The service launched last December but was put on hold several weeks later after a string of breakdowns.
The Dutch were also told there would be a news conference on the Friday to announce the decision, De Morgen said.
‘It is clear Dijsselbloem was not briefed by his colleague,’ an NMBS spokesman told the paper.
The Dutch state-owned railway firm NS said on the following Monday it was pulling out of the project and would try to recover its investment from Italian maker AnsaldoBreda.
The Dutch cabinet took until the end of last week to formally announce it too was withdrawing support for the Fyra service.
NS is now looking at a number of alternatives to provide high-speed services between the two countries.
A spokesman for Dijsselbloem said later on Wednesday there has been no apology on his behalf, he had not seen the apology and it had not been sent on his behalf.
‘The minsiter has nothing to apologise for and has not done so,’ the spokesman is quoted as saying by news agency ANP.
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