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Metro-committee slams Amsterdam city government

DutchAmsterdam.nl, December 15, 2009 — The City of Amsterdam should never have approved the construction of the North-South metro line a special city council investigative committee concluded Tuesday.

In its report the committee also urges the council to debate the risks associated with the planned drilling of a metro tunnel underneath the historic city center.

Noord/Zuidlijn, a bottomless pit

Article from Elsevier, April 26, 2008. Describes the cost overruns for the Noord/Zuidlijn, as well as problems faced during the much delayed metro tunnel drilling process. Click image for a PDF file hosted at the Internet Archive.

Earlier this year the Veerman committee enumerated what had gone wrong in the commissioning and building of the new metro line. The current Limmen committee was tasked with analyzing how it happened.

The building of the new metro line under the Dutch capital has caused historic houses to subside and the city’s budget deficit to explode.

The construction of the metro line, the city’s fifth, was initially budgeted at 1.4 billion euros and should have been finished this year. The total costs are now estimated around 3 billion and the metro won’t run until 2017.

To explain how this could have happened, a special investigatory committee was formed last spring. Five city council members interviewed those involved and wrote a report about the inadequate information, lack of control, unworkable contracts, inexperienced responsible civil servants and risks that “made the situation uncontrollable.”

Committee chairman Maurice Limmen said Tuesday: “Time and again mistakes were made, throughout the process. The political desire to construct the line was paramount.” Limmen not only blamed Amsterdam’s council executives, but also city council itself for giving the plans the green light at the time.

– Source / Full Story: Metro-committee slams Amsterdam city government , NRC Handelsblad, Dec. 15, 2009

Drilling risks

Drilling of the tunnel for the new metro line is scheduled to commence in March. However, according to the committee members Amsterdam’s politicians have hardly paid any attention to the question of whether or not the risks are acceptable.

The committee further calls into question whether the North-South line would provide added value to the city’s public transportation system, since predictions of a sharp increase in the total number of passengers have not been realized.

Several municipal executives are sharply criticized in the committee’s report. However, those executives left local politics a long time ago.

According to the report Mayor Job Cohen, whom some have accused of being too passive, played only a very limited role in the decision process regarding the North-South line. The committee says it could not determine whether he fulfilled his duty to assure the quality of the decisions.

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Last updated CET (Central European Time)

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