State opening of Parliament (Prinsjesdag): major maintenance tasking in the pursuit of accessibility, safety, and liveability
The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management aims to keep the Netherlands accessible, safe, and liveable. In 2022, the Ministry will be investing 3.6 billion euros in the maintenance, replacement, and renovation of roads, waterways, railways, bridges, and the main water system, thus taking an important step in the huge maintenance operation before us in the years ahead. Concurrently, additional attention will be paid to safety. Besides road safety, this will involve dyke improvement, rainwater drainage, and water retention during periods of drought. Furthermore, impetus will be given to the living environment and the circular economy, which will enable the Ministry to, for example, undertake a new initiative in the pursuit of clean road traffic.
Accessibility of the Netherlands
Regular maintenance of our roads, bridges, and railways is vitally important, in order to keep trucks, passenger cars, ships, and trains moving. In this day and age, such maintenance is especially important, because our infrastructure is subject to more intensive use than estimated upon its original construction, seventy years ago, and because traffic flows are heavier now. Consequently, the Netherlands is faced with one of the largest infrastructure taskings since records began.
Next year, Rijkswaterstaat will be able to invest 2.1 billion euros in maintenance, replacement, and innovation. Up to 2025 inclusive, the ProRail railway authority will be investing 1.5 billion euros annually in railway management, maintenance, and replacement. In the future, however, the deficits will be substantial. The investments scheduled for 2022 will enable the organisations to nonetheless proceed with the next steps.
As the Netherlands will be building another 900,000 houses in the years up to 2030 inclusive, additional connections and infrastructure will be required in order to enable the new residents to continue to travel smoothly from one location to another. For example, by the end of 2021, the second and third ten-minute trains will be operating between Arnhem - Utrecht and Schiphol Airport, and between Schiphol Airport and The Hague - Rotterdam. The outgoing Cabinet is aiming for maximum sustainability with respect to infrastructure maintenance and construction, also with a view to the nitrogen issue. A case in point is the grant scheme for entrepreneurs intending to procure zero-exhaust construction machines.
Safety of the Netherlands
The situation in the province of Limburg has demonstrated that the Netherlands needs better protection against the consequences of extreme weather. The IPCC climate report underscores the urgency of such measures. That is why the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management is fully committed to dyke improvement and river widening. Further studies are exploring how the Netherlands can be prepared for severe precipitation. The recommendations from such studies will be followed up in 2022.
In addition to severe precipitation, extreme weather also involves prolonged drought. Via the Delta Fund, the Ministry is investing an additional 100 million euros in measures aimed at climate-proofing our freshwater supply. This brings the total sum available for such measures to 250 million euros.
This year, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management will once more invest 50 million euros in the improvement of nationwide road safety, out of the 500-million-euro package that will become available in the ten years ahead. Local and regional governments can use these funds in the purview of the construction or adaptation of safe infrastructure, e.g., for bicycles.
Liveability of the Netherlands
A liveable environment with greenery and clean air is essential for everyone. That is why the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management is committed to boosting a zero-waste economy: the circular economy. In 2022, 14 million euros will be available for this purpose, for example, to assist entrepreneurs in streamlining their reuse.
The Ministry is also making headway in terms of cleaner mobility. In the years ahead, the grant scheme for the purchase or lease of new or used electric passenger cars will be expanded. This scheme has proven immensely popular over recent years. For the next three years, the Ministry has allocated an additional 90 million euros to this incentive scheme.
A focal point under the climate package is the use of quayside electricity, which obviates the need for moored ships to use polluting fuel oil for their power generation.
The measures to combat COVID-19 have significantly reduced the number of tailbacks and public transportation volumes. Now that society is gradually “opening up” again, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management wants to minimise congestion by spreading road and public transportation traffic. To this end, the Ministry is setting down agreements with employers and educational establishments on allowing staff to work from home for several days a week.
Although public transportation passenger volumes are picking up, the revenue has not yet reached pre-COVID levels. In order to keep the public transportation facilities up to par, a sum of 140 million euros has been budgeted for the extension of the public transportation availability allowance up to 31 August 2022.