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Hasselt to Maastricht tram link ready to roll by 2018
Flanders’ transport minister Hilde Crevits has signed an agreement with the Dutch province of Limburg to build a fast tram link between Hasselt, the capital of Flanders’ Limburg province, and Maastricht, the capital of the Netherlands’ Limburg province.
The new line, called Spartacus, will run through the Flemish towns of Diepenbeek, Bilzen and Lanaken and is intended to improve transport connections in Limburg province. The work on the 32-kilometre route is scheduled to take three years, from 2015 to 2018, and cost €283 million.
The government of Flanders is investing €217 million in Spartacus to cover the cost of laying track between Hasselt and the Dutch border, along with buying new trams and laying cycle paths. Meanwhile, the Dutch authorities are investing €66 million to cover construction costs on the stretch of route between Maastricht and the Belgian border.
When it is completed, Spartacus will carry passengers from city centre to city centre in 30 minutes. It will be operated by the Flemish transport company De Lijn, with 10 scheduled stops in Flanders and a further three over the border in Maastricht.
The agreement is a unique form of cross-border co-operation involving the Flemish and Dutch governments as well as provincial and municipal authorities in the Euregio area at the borders of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
“As a growth region, you have to invest in public transport,” said Herman Reynders, governor of Limburg province. “The tramline doesn’t just improve mobility in our own region. It also connects in Maastricht with fast links to Aachen and Liege, so that mobility is improved in the entire Euregio region. We make gains both in terms of tourism and employment, on both sides of the border.”
Crevits added that the project was part of the government’s long term mobility strategy, which aims for 40% of journeys in Flanders to be made by public transport, bicycle and foot by 2030.