‘Billions needed every year for big city public transport’

Maurice Unck, newly appointed director of the Rotterdam public transport operator RET, says the Netherlands needs to spend at least €1bn a year through 2035 in upgrading and expanding public transport services in the heavily populated western urban aggglomeration known as the Randstad.

Otherwise, Unck said, the Netherlands will lose its competitive position to metropolitan areas like London, Paris and Germany’s Ruhr area. In an interview with public broadcaster NOS, he said metro and rail stations would have to be upgraded and train frequencies increased.

Unck said RET had already noted  the huge increase in passenger numbers on the metro to 42,000 from 8,000 a day. The track between Rotterdam and The Hague is already operating under Japanese conditions of crowding, he said.

Unck said the Randstad, which consists of Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam and Utrecht, must begin to invest like a ‘world city’ when it comes to public transport.

Part of the present rail network between Rotterdam and Dordrecht could be converted to light rail use. Other parts would continue to carry intercity trains between the cities and some would be used by the metro. All this requires an investment of several hundred million euros, he said.

‘Increasingly, the Randstad is becoming a global metropolis, a world city,’ Unck stressed. He said London is currently investing €20bn in public transport, while Paris is spending at least €35bn. Unck said it was vital that the Randstad continues to expand its public transport resources to remain competitive in Europe.

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