Maastricht to sue Flanders over failed tram line
Maastricht will take the Belgian region of Flanders to court over the Flemish government's refusal to repay the Dutch city 19.6 million euros. Maastricht and the Dutch province of Limburg had invested the money in a tram link from Maastricht to the Belgian city of Hasselt. Last year, however, Flanders scrapped the tram.
According to Maastricht, Flanders is contractually obliged to repay the money already invested in the tram line by the Netherlands, but the region has failed to do so.
This was revealed on Tuesday in a letter from mayor Wim Hillenaar to Maastricht city council. The council had earlier passed a motion to prevent Maastricht taxpayers from being stuck with the bill.
Attempts to resolve the dispute amicably have been unsuccessful. Flanders has reimbursed Maastricht 3 million euros that the city had paid to the region as compensation for having to shorten part of the tram line. The remaining 19.6 million euros that Maastricht claims Flanders owes has not been returned.
The plan for a tram between Maastricht and Hasselt dates back to 2004, but the fast link never got off the ground due to a range of problems. In Maastricht, for instance, the tracks could not be extended to the railway station because a bridge in the city couldn't support the tram's weight.
Hasselt announced last year that it was abandoning the project, partly because of the 300 million euro cost to the Belgians. In May 2022, Flanders cancelled the project. Since then, Flanders and Maastricht have been at loggerheads over the costs.
The office of Flemish Mobility minister Lydia Peeters said on Tuesday evening that Flanders had not yet received an official communication. "We are waiting for the official communication and will then consider further steps," she said.
#FlandersNewsService | © PHOTO ANP MARCEL VAN HOORN