High Speed Line – South (HSL Zuid) is a 96 kilometre, dual-track high speed rail line located in the Netherlands, between Amsterdam (Schiphol Airport) and the Belgian border. The high speed line comprises two sections:
- Amsterdam (Schiphol Airport) to Rotterdam; and
- Rotterdam to the Belgian border.
As part of the development of HSL Zuid, The State of the Netherlands (Dutch State) procured a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for the railway infrastructure, including the track system, the traction power supply system, the signalling system, noise barriers, communication systems and ancillary equipment such as tunnel technical installations (the HSL infrastructure). The PPP contract with Infraspeed (the project company in which HICL has invested) covers the design, construction, financing and maintenance of the HSL infrastructure and comprises a five-year construction period and a 25 year infrastructure maintenance period.
Construction was completed in December 2006 and, following a separate rolling stock procurement run by the Dutch State, operation of 300 km/h trains commenced in 2009. Infraspeed has maintained the HSL infrastructure to achieve actual availability of close to 100%, which is in excess of the availability design target set out in the PPP contract (see below).
Delivery of such a technically complex scope within a PPP framework involved tackling key challenges including:
- Managing interfaces with seven civil subcontractors (bridges, tunnels) who had undertaken civil works under a separate contract – this required a co-ordinated approach to managing HSL Zuid’s main contract with the Dutch State;
- Implementing European Railway Train Management System (ERTMS) Level 2 at 300 km/h, including at the border crossing into Belgium (the first cross-border high speed rail crossing);
- Obtaining timely acceptance by the Dutch State of the safety case developed for the Project; and
- Demonstrating the delivery of approximately 600 requirements under the PPP contract.
In the agreement between the Dutch State and Infraspeed as infrastructure provider, Infraspeed contracted to a design availability of 99.46% for the line during the concession. The Dutch State pays Infraspeed an annual fee for making the HSL infrastructure available, but the precise payment depends on the actual level of availability of the infrastructure: if Infraspeed fails to reach 99% availability, the fee is reduced. Because of this arrangement and the form of contract that was chosen – DBFM, i.e. Design, Build, Finance and Maintenance in a single contract – it was in Infraspeed’s interest to think ahead in the design and construction phase, and make the maintenance after completion as optimal and efficient as possible.