It was a very bad week for Drenthe. The mood of our brave provincial administrators has dropped far below freezing. Drenthe remains, together with Groningen and Friesland, the Siberia of the Netherlands.
Because as it stands, nothing will be done to improve accessibility by rail for the time being, as it turned out on Monday. If that wasn’t enough, the news came on Thursday that the capacity of the power grid in Drenthe will remain below par for the time being. Many companies are affected by this if they want to expand or switch their production process from gas to electricity. For the time being, the network operators are not succeeding in realizing the much-needed expansion.
Deputy Nelleke Vedelaar (PvdA) was completely astonished when she heard that there will be no money to solve bottlenecks on the railway near Meppel. The required 40 million euros is small beer compared to all major rail ambitions in The Hague, but it will not materialize. For responsible minister Mark Harbers (VVD), the North is a long way away. Farmers protested vigorously last summer, Johan Remkes pointed out in his nitrogen report that this is mainly due to the continuing deprivation of the countryside, but it was all butter on the gallows.
Nevertheless, the northern administrators must also take a look at themselves. The Lelylijn was the showpiece in their lobby for better and faster rail. The Drenthe Commissioner Jetta Klijnsma, she has been around a bit longer than today, always added that ‘Meppel’ and the Nedersaksenlijn are at least as important, but this sound was often somewhat lost in the violence about that Lelylijn.
With that Lely line, Harbers will keep the North on the line for a while. Everything is still being investigated. However, it is highly questionable whether it is technically possible at all to construct this line through Friesland and Flevoland at an acceptable cost. And in the North not everyone is convinced of its usefulness and necessity.
So was it smart to prioritize that Lely line? The people of Groningen in particular find it sexy to be able to return to their trusted ‘City’ much faster from Amsterdam. But as long as there are still weekly disruptions on the existing track, we will have to fix that first. Fortunately, there is still a House of Representatives that can call minister Harbers to order.