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Analysis planning processes Zuiderzeelijn

After a decade of discussion, cost benefit analysis, lobbying and demonstrations the parliament finally decided not to realise a new railway from Amsterdam to Groningen (the Zuiderzee railway). The Zuiderzee railway is one example of a large project that did not make it through the planning process.

Because of the turbulent, long lasting process the Zuiderzee railway is examined as case study for this research about planning processes. Policy makers often see planning processes as a succession of steps, until the realisation of a project. This notion of a process is mostly linear and might be cyclic. When examining the process from a more distanced point of view, the planning process is most of the time not a rational succession of steps at all. The Zuiderzee railway was not put on the agenda ten years ago, for the first time. Since 1968 there have been several initiatives for a Zuiderzee railway, every time the context differed a little bit, every time the plan was put off the agenda and every time the main proponents of the railway sought for new opportunities to realise the railway. This does not look like the rational process suggested by policy makers, but like chaotic process in which parties involved constantly try to influence to the process, whether it leads to a go decision, or to a no go decision.
This research is based on readings in theory, analysis of policy documents and interviews with parties involved in the Zuiderzee railway planning process. For a detailed analysis of the research results, conclusion and recommendations please read the full report.

Key words: Zuiderzeelijn, planning processes, large infrastructural projects, policy windows, strategic misrepresentation


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Wouter Holtslag en Marlies Meijer