Project Overview

The investment facilitates the realisation of an hourly Intercity connection on the corridor den Haag/Rotterdam–Eindhoven–Düsseldorf by using existing infrastructure as much as possible and by removing technical, regulatory and organisational barriers. This calls for a creative solution that generates a maximum outcome with the available budget.

In the European network of knowledge regions, the 'Brainport' Eindhoven, Brabantstad and the Ruhr area are prominent members. To strengthen economic cooperation between these knowledge regions, fast and efficient rail connections are necessary. These connections are missing between Eindhoven and Düsseldorf, even though the basic rail infrastructure is present.

Innovative aspects

  • RoCK was a brand and an open platform representing an overaching European goal. Under this umbrella individual partners could engage in topics that in their day to day work would have been deemed beyond their operational scope, administrative boundaries and responsibilities. Projects like RoCK that operate outside the status quo always fall into the responsibility of many organisations. The danger is that individual organisations might reject the project if they see their position compromised.
  • Unique in this project is that a such a large group of stakeholders from both the Netherlands and Germany collaborate so closely and so consistently. In fact, the German Transport Minister commented positively on this tight collaboration during a meeting with the majors from the Dutch and German RoCK partner cities along the route. During the meeting with the minister, the majors presented their work in RoCK and lobbied for further funding within the German Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan (Bundesverkehrswegeplan).
  • Planning and infrastructure activities were always embedded into a bigger strategic approach. The strategy in the words of RoCK Project Manager Gösta Weber: “What we do can only be successful if it is matched with the goodwill and support of important external partners like transport authorities, transport providers, network managers, regional and local politics as well as the business communities.” The team has won wide political support (Video) along the train corridor locally, regionally and nationally both in the Netherlands and Germany.
  • This investment goes beyond the status quo. It is not business as usual but stretches the envelope of what is possible in terms of organisational structures, legal and regulatory responsibilities and possibilities.
  • The new Dutch main network (hoofdrailnet) concession for 2015–2025 includes for the first time foreign destinations. For RoCK in particular, this means the central stations in Aachen and in Düsseldorf. To include these cities in the concession, national law in the Netherlands had to be changed. Lobbying efforts by RoCK partner Parkstad Limburg were decisive for this achievement.
  • International corridor model


  • Interreg funding was secured, with co-funding by the City of Eindhoven. Furthermore, Eindhoven agreed to manage the lead partnership. German project partners Mönchengladbach and Düsseldorf took the lead on project studies. Düsseldorf was also critical in terms of political analysis and raising political awareness.
  • An international network corridor model was developed, which optimises the proposed Intercity timetable and takes into account all existing and planned services and connecting services. The single track between Kaldenkirchen and Dülken was determined as an infrastructure bottleneck for the new intercity service.
  • A benefit-cost analysis was performed to estimate the benefits of necessary new rail infrastructure capacity for the proposed Intercity, including external costs like the modal shift from road to rail and spatial benefits.
  • The German State of North Rhine–Westphalia and the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region submitted the RoCK infrastructure investment for double track on the Kaldenkirchen–Dülken section to be considered in the German Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan (Bundesverkehrswegeplan).  This formal submission to the German Transport Ministry was supported with RoCK studies. A final decision as to the whether the infrastructure project will be included in the new plan is expected in 2016. Chances look favourable. The operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) is contractually obliged to run train services as soon as the infrastructure and German laws and regulations allow so.
  • In the Netherlands leading politicians from the Province of Limburg, the Province of Noord-Brabant and Eindhoven have even gone so far as to start lobbying for high-speed trains on the corridor.


If we were to do it again…

… we would set up a development agency that can act in a similar way as RoCK did. Crucial to the success of this project is that RoCK was seen as impartial, because it was supported internationally and because it had the quality mark of being of European importance. Projects like RoCK that operate outside the status quo always touch the responsibilities of many organisations. The danger is that individual organisations might reject the project if they see their position compromised.

 Some tips for those involved in cross-border transport projects:

  • Build on your sense of urgency to solve the “fifty reasons” that experts will tell you why it is not possible.
  • When it comes to railways, Interreg funding will always be seed funding. Use your funding and project outcomes to build political traction and to unlock further funding sources.
  • The method of your studies should be widely agreed upon and should be in line with your future funding sources.
  • Stakeholders should be involved early on. A lot of effort should be put into stakeholder management, lobbying and publicity, so that ideally they all support and reiterate your main messages.
  • It’s best to not get lost in the details concerning technology. Instead, start by developing a timetable and operational concept for the service you wish to introduce. On the basis of this operational concept, analyse existing infrastructure and existing train services. Optimise the operational concept before identifying infrastructure measures.
  • Seek to influence contractual (concession) agreements.
  • Seek to influence operational procedures wherever possible e.g. planning procedures for existing timetables.
  • Try to influence organisations.

Project ended December 2015