A faster connection between Maastricht and Aachen, a good train connection with Liege, a public transport season ticket that is valid (in the Veolia bus) all the way to Aachen, travelling expenses for German students, and Maastricht Randwijck station renamed into Health Campus Maastricht.
There were enough wishes and ideas when the accessibility of Maastricht was on the agenda of the UC's Internationalisation & Strategy committee last week. In the presence of alderman Albert Nuss (PvdA) and Executive President Martin Paul, the final conclusion was quickly formulated: city council and university (staff and students) will have to work together to improve the accessibility of Maastricht. “I speak with my colleagues in Aachen, Liege and Hasselt, you speak with the colleagues from the universities in those cities. We should be able to work something out together,” Nuss reckoned, to Paul’s nodding approval.
One of the reasons for the discussion was the discontinuation of the direct intercity train connection Maastricht-Liege-Brussels at the end of this year. The committee’s plea for a fast train to Liege with a stop in Randwijck, met with Nuss's approval. He added a stop in Eijsden, but warned: “I will talk to the provincial authorities, the ministry and the Dutch Railway, but I am not the person who makes the decisions.” He also took on board Paul’s idea to rename Randwijck station into Health Campus Maastricht (“if you want a campus with an international character, then you have to have a stop there”).
The problematic connection with Aachen (the Veolia bus takes an hour; the train journey to Aachen - via Heerlen – takes about as long) was also discussed. A train rails between Maastricht and Aachen will not happen, Nuss said. “Too expensive.” Is it possible to travel to Aachen on the 'ov-chipkaart', Paul wanted to know. No, it is not. “But it is a Dutch Veolia bus, isn't it? We have about 2,000 German students who are from the border region. Is it not possible to make some arrangement,” he asked. Nuss promised to put in a good word with the bus company’s management.
For students travelling between Maastricht and Hasselt, public transport is going to become more attractive. From 2017, a fast intercity tram will connect the two cities.
The chairman of the committee, Novum member Constanze Müller, pointed out that German students lose out all-round. They are not entitled to a Dutch public transport student ticket, and because they study abroad, they are not entitled to travelling expenses from the German government either. She further informed that there would be an investigation into students’ travel behaviour. “How do they travel to Maastricht? By train, car, bus?”