Case Studies: Combiplan Nijverdal, The Netherlands

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Project Overview
Figure 1: Combiplan Nijverdal, The Netherlands
Combiplan Nijverdal
Project Type: Brownfield
Type of Project Financing: Public
Contract duration: 68 months
Budget: €272 million (2009)/€90 million (Construction). Total investment €316 million (2014)/€165 million (Construction and terrains acquired)
Project Time Line
June 21, 2010: Construction works started
2010 – 2014: Tunnel structure construction
March 2013: Tunnel roof completed
April 1, 2013: Opening of the new station Nijverdaland train tunnel
2014-2015: Information safety system test in the road tunnel


A new rail and motorway were constructed across the centre of the Nijverdal city over a distance of 6 kilometres, as part of a transportation link connecting the cities of Zwolle, Nijverdal and Almelo in the Netherlands. The infrastructure built is connected to the central train station. This train station is a central node of the town’s transportation network, and this shows the exclusive nature of the project in terms of infrastructure competition.

A 500 metres length tunnel that accommodates two train tracks and 2 x 2 lanes is part of the project. The tunnel alignment goes along the old railway path. The width of the tunnel structure ranges from approximately 26 to 36 metres. The tunnel depth varies along the route between 6 and 10 metres. Local infrastructure was relocated for the new project. Two slow traffic depressed crossings, two road bridges, two railway bridges, a railway viaduct and the necessary noise barriers were also built.

The idea of building a railway and roadway running parallel and attached to one another was conceived in the 70’s. The decision on the definitive alignment of the project was made in 1995.

The Contracting Authority (Public Party)

Rijkswaterstaat is the Government agency and national authority attached to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment. Rijkswaterstaat invests about 3 billion euro a year. ProRail is the Government agency that carries out the maintenance of the national railway network infrastructure, provides rail capacity and controls traffic. In 2013, ProRail invested €1.2 billion in rail and stations infrastructure.

Rijkswaterstaat in conjunction with ProRail are the client and public party, respectively, involved in this project.

The contractor responsible for the design, construction, as well as road maintenance for the first ten years after the full completion of works is a consortium consisting of Van Hattum & Blankevoort, HegemanBeton- en Industriebouw, Koninklijke Wegenbouw Stevin bv (KWS) and VolkerInfra Systems (Vialis).

The design of works was executed by VolkerInfra Design. Royal Haskoning DHV acted as advisor to the consortium and to ProRail. Hans van Heeswijk Architects delivered the architectural design.

Sources of Financing

The project was financed through public sources. The national government contribution was €272 million (2009). In addition to this budget, there are regional contributions as follows:

  • €5.2 million by Nijverdal (village of the municipality Hellendoorn)
  • €16 million by Zwolle municipality
  • €14.6 million by the Overijssel province
  • €30 million from the Region of Twente (association of certain municipalities in the area of influence).


The project enables freight and passenger mobility. Road and railways benefit Nijverdal citizens directly, as well as residents and visitors from the Zwolle, Nijverdal and Almelo municipalities. Since the Combiplan project is highly connected with the Dutch transport network, it involves other regional and national users.

Key Purpose for Public Financing Model Selection

For the project, the original initiative was to undertake it using the Public Private Partnerships scheme. Eventually, it was decided to award a traditional Design and Construction contract, which were common practice. At the time, the national government did not stimulate much the use of Public Private Partnerships contracts.

Project Timing

At the time the project was planned and constructed, the socio-economic conditions were favourable. Following project award in 2006, the GDP growth rate increased. Comparing the years of planning (between 1990-1998) with those during construction and first operation (2005-2012), there was an incremental variation beyond expected values of the per capita income level of the region. Likewise, the unemployment rate dropped after 2006 (contract award year).

Project Locality and Market Geography

The Combiplan project can be considered an inter-urban infrastructure. This is because the project is a link connecting the cities of Zwolle, Nijverdal and Almelo. Some other characteristics of the market geography in the region show that the population density at the time of the project award was higher than the one during the project planning stage. Similar trends were observed for the level of industrialization and economic activities at the time of data collection of the project with respect to industrialization at project award. No new specific production activities started during or after the completion of the project and none was foreseen in the planning stage of the project.

Procurement & Contractual Structure

The contracting authority awarded a Design and Construction contract. However, after some contract modifications, maintenance services were included. The maintenance service period was agreed to be 10 years for both the road and the accompanying information transport system. Road and rail operation are the responsibility of the Nederlandse Spoorwegen, NS, a State Owned Company Dutch Railways, and Rijkwaterstaat, respectively.


For this project, the procurement process consisted of a two stage procedure in which there was an open call first and, following this, a competitive dialogue procurement procedure. Five bidders participated in the tendering process, which lasted twelve months.

Contract Structure

Unit costs is the payments basis for the contract. Contract duration was agreed to be 68 months.

Risk Allocation

The respective allocation of risk is presented in Figure 2. It should be noted that the contracting authority awarded a design and construction contract.

Figure 2: Risk allocation


In general, there were cost overruns equivalent to 5- 10%. This fits within the bandwidths, as forecasted in the estimate, and thus, fits within the amount of the project scope of the MIRT.

Along with the budgeted costs, from 2006, the initial project scope is extended. This means that, from the start of the project, the total amount of investments has been expanded.

A number of scope changes occurred in the Combiplan Nijverdal project. For each change, budget is allocated and the scope is adjusted accordingly. The initiative of the municipality and the province parts are added to the scope. The initiating party also bore the associated costs. In 2011, the new national tunnel standard is also implemented in the project and the project scope was adjusted accordingly.

The overall development of the contract scope amounts from the start to the end of the works to about 30%. Of this 30% of the development of the contract scope, 40% can be allotted to new design requirements. 20% of the changed design requirements arises from the application of the new tunnel standard.

The impact of the revised transfer prices amounted to 5% of the initial contract sum.

The resulting delay of the opening was due to connection problems in the network between the traffic control centre and the tunnel. The delay was approximately 6-9 months. The impact is about 5% of the total forecasted lead time. Three items are handled as, legally called, "claims", because of delay-and acceleration costs and changed laws and regulations (e.g. red diesel could not be used on the building site).

The project is executed within the total amount as mentioned in the MIRT of 2015.

Project Outcomes

The project had a relatively long planning period starting in 1990 and awarded in 2006. During this period, project scope and budget were adjusted. Few changes were made following project award.

The rail station and the railway tunnel were completed on time and within budget. The opening of the road tunnel was delayed due to the need to implement the new national tunnel standard and connection problems in the network.

Despite the above setbacks, the future opening of the road tunnel is expected to reduce travel time, improve traffic flow and road safety on the N35 and at the same time the quality of life in the centre of Nijverdal.