Parliamentary Inquiry on Fyra Train Debacle
THE HAGUE, 05/06/13 - The Lower House will hold a parliamentary inquiry into the Fyra rail service. Through the investigation, all details surrounding the disastrous train project should surface.
Opposition parties like the Christian democrats (CDA) and centre-left D66 have for some time been urging a parliamentary inquiry into the high-speed rail service between Brussels and Amsterdam. On Tuesday the governing conservative (VVD) and Labour (PvdA) parties also backed the proposal, creating a majority in the House.
In an inquiry, witnesses can be heard under oath. An inquiry is the most heavyweight instrument of the House.
The V250 trains, made by Italian manufacturer Finmeccanica's unit AnsaldoBreda and named Fyra, were launched by Netherlands Rail (NS) in December. They proved so unreliable in January that they were withdrawn.
NS said on Monday it would stop using the trains and cancel outstanding orders due to the ongoing technical failures. The Italian manufacturer was unable to meet a three-month deadline to provide a solution for technical problems, a NS spokesman said.
To the surprise of many, the cabinet has still not officially pulled the plug on Fyra. On Monday, Transport State Secretary Mansveld termed it “a sensible decision” by NS to stop the service. But the cabinet will not take a position until Friday.
Also remarkable is the fact that Belgium already decided to halt the project last Friday on the basis of a Dutch study. The study revealed that the Fyra scored thousands of penalty points in a safety test, where a score of around 30 is generally already taken as a signal for doubts.
The NS decision would lead to the cancellation of an outstanding order for seven more trains, out of an initial 19 jointly ordered by the Netherlands (16) and Belgium (3). "We have asked our legal experts to study all avenues to recover 120 million euros already paid to the Italian producer," the spokesman said.
NS also announced on Monday its chief executive, Bert Meerstadt, would resign. But this was supposedly unrelated to the Fyra debacle.