Nieuwsbrief Issue 31 February 2000
DUTCH RAILWAY NEWS
The following is a compilation from information found in Het Openbaar Vervoer, Rail Magazine, Today’s Railways, various Dutch newspapers and oral confirmation from various sources. Compiled and translated by Peter van der Mark.
Renumbering of cargo locos mooted
Driver training on class 1300 restarts
Second and third class 241 to receive ATB
ACTS class 1200 electrics and 6700 DE locos
The sixth Belgian class 6200 Bo-Bo' DE number 6290, which was purchased with the sole purpose of being cannibalised, was completely stripped of its engine, generators, control kit and cab interiors as well as headlights, windscreens and side-windows, after which the remaining carcass was scrapped in the yard of the Onnen workshops. The bogies, traction motors and wheelsets were kept after the body had been removed. Probably, after a smash, they are going to wish they had kept one of its head ends.
NS-R, further problems with DD-IRM
NoordNed capacity problems
Rotterdam Harbour line gets into the testing phase
Schiphol old tunnel being overhauled
How does this influence the circumstances in the Netherlands? NS-Cargo first of all has quite a substantial fleet of class 2200 DE Bo-Bo’s sitting around which they do not want to use again because of their age. NS-C will not scrap them as the directive is that they then have to be offered to open access operators first, which is about the last thing NS-C wants to see happen after the class 1200 debacle with ACTS. Occasionally they will allow Tilburg works, still NS anyway under the NedTrain banner, to cannibalise bits and pieces to keep the locos going of those who still have operational examples on their rosters, but the big picture is one of decay. More interesting is the following policy with the electrics. NS-C has a fleet of class 1600 electric B-B’s which are now nearing their midlife heavy overhaul. This is going to be a very costly exercise. They also have a fleet of old class 1300 Co-Co' electric locos which requires to be scrapped or to be done up again, among other things asbestos has to be removed. To top it off, NS-Cargo, whose really profitable work is inevitably internationally orientated, is not really enamoured any more with single-voltage/ single-ATP electric traction which can only go as far as the border, a characteristic which both the 1300’s and 1600’s share. Thus the alternatives for the 1600's are to do them up and pay good money for a rather limited use kind of loco or to try and exchange them for something more useful. Similarly, the alternatives for the 1300's are scrap, tied in with having to offer them to, for instance ACTS and ShortLines, which most of all ACTS would love to see, or leave them to rot in the backyard too.
What if all the 1300's are given a full life extension treatment to keep them going for say another 5 or 10 years. This is by no means cheap, but it certainly is cheaper than the midlife treatment for the 1600's. The scrapping of similar locos to the 1300's in France and the availability of the scrap 1100’s has created a wealth of usable spares, which are considerably cheaper than the kit which has to be purchased to do the 1600's up. This move would enable them to lease or even sell a substantial number of limited use 1600's to NS-Reizigers to make 1800's out of them. That way NS-C earns on them while pushing the refurb costs into the lap of NS-R, who, on the other side, get badly needed and already known power (no driver training periods etc.) for a very decent price. The refurb 1300's will certainly last until the Germans come up with their Railion multi-voltage/ multi-ATP electrics and meanwhile NS-C either tries to find EBA and RailNed acceptable power in the large pool of decaying DB-C OOU diesels or even buys new. General Motors is pushing their class 66 very hard and examples with both NS and DB ATP will shortly be available in the ShortLines/ HGK stable. Both the ex-DB as well as the GM class 66 power are well proven kit which, if ever it becomes surplus to requirement due to the promised multi-voltage electrics rolling in, can easily be sold off to various other European operators. The GM class 66 clones would do well in these stakes as it might well be so that by then this remarkable machine has become a sort of Euro-standard which, for once, includes the UK.
NS-Reizigers in the meantime has got into a real jam. The DD-IRM motorbogie fiasco has gone way beyond the stage of being a joke; the latest date of complete re-entry of the series is eighteen months. The SM '90 and DM '90 units still are no where near seriously reliable trains, the power cars for the DD-AR sets need work on their cooling systems and everything on top of that is plagued by the wheelset problem that has got way out of hand. The only series in full working order are ICM "Koploper" stock, SGM "Sprinter" stock, DDM as far as 1800 locos with good wheelsets are available, DD-AR as far as powered by the new power cars when they do not conk out and plan T and V. Mostly single deck stock on a network where double deck was rapidly becoming the norm.
The latest idea to keep the floods of people moving is spectacular, and clearly indicates the depth of NS-R's despair with their modern traction. This is to get all the remaining 1960's DE3 DEMU's, built in a time when they apparently still knew how to spell reliability, off the scrap heap and out of the sidings and give them a thorough re-engineering job complete with their third set of new -likely substantially higher powered- diesel engines, do the interiors up a la plan T/V and make DE4 units out of the best power cars with an extra intermediate trailer out of discarded sets. Oh yes, these sets will mainly run semi-fast services under the wires as NS-R by then hopes to have shed their rural jobs to local operators. No doubt these reconditioned and extended sets will then sell well once they become surplus to requirements again.
In the meantime 3 extra plan W coaches, on top of the 31 already back
in service, have been readied to return to traffic (there are absolutely
no more available, all usable remaining examples are on the go by now).
The ex French/Belgian K4 coaches have now also settled down to work with
acceptable reliability. Those ex-Cargo 1600's will be needed, as will be
clear by now. That is why Cargo did not do anything about making freight
locos out of them or even keep up the effort of repainting them.
Whether ACTS will be getting more of these machines as cheaply as they got their first batch remains to be seen. This is why they are also seriously considering doing up an extra 1200 (1208 to become 1255), for traction as well as its ATB capability, complete with a renewed type of cab layout, which will retrospectively be built in into the other machines. The life of the 1200's is foreseen to be fairly short though. Like ShortLines, ACTS is also looking toward full diesel powered operations to enable international traffic as well as keeping energy supply more directly under their own control through being able to shop around for fuel. What do they want to move their trains with in the post-electric era, you might wonder? Why, probably a certain type of General Motors Co-Co'! Not cheap but eminently reliable and accepted in Germany and in Holland.
For shunting ACTS has bought two V60 D (0-8-0) DH shunting locos of former East German manufacture from the Czech republic. These will be stationed in Rotterdam and in Amsterdam to shunt the AmRo intermodal shuttle. A third one, owned by SSN museum organisation in Rotterdam, is now being negotiated to provide spares. ACTS will still use the VSM owned ex-DR V100 B-B' in Rotterdam for haulage between Kijfhoek and the various other locations in the huge harbour area. The ex-NS shunters No's 618 and 661 which ACTS purchased some time ago were apparently too far gone and too costly to do up, even though rumour has it that they might come to the UK for just such a refurb job.
ShortLines will profit from the HGK purchase of the two class 66 clones, which, incidentally, have been renumbered from DE 61 and 62 into 9901 and 9902. Most of all their reliability will make ShortLines heave deep sighs of relief after the struggle they had with the MaK Co-Co’s DE 11/13. Word has it though that one of the GM's has not actually been bought by HGK; it is really a GM demonstrator. If that is the case then the fitting of Indusi and NS ATB is a very expensive job for a machine, which supposedly is only going to be around for a limited time, even though it will benefit GM enormously as far as their sales effort along the North Sea coast and Central Europe is concerned. Will we see it work with NS-C and ACTS, in Austria and with German operators as well? Stay tuned.
From 2000 onwards, the operators in the Netherlands will have to pay access charges to use the network, just like those in the UK. According to the infamous directive 95/19 of the EC, which set the guidelines for this way of running trains, the charge must minimally equate with the cost made by the infrastructure owner to provide the infrastructure and traffic control. This was in fact the situation that existed when NS was still NS, a long, long time ago. Meanwhile it is clear that it is NS-Reizigers and Int. which will be paying for its use of the tracks straight away as the fledgling local passenger operators have until 2005 before they will have to start forking out. I guess this is to see whether they can actually run such franchises.
Passenger operator’s pay not only for the number of train kilometres but also for each stop at a station, the last divided into two categories depending on accommodation provided. This is bound to stimulate the use of long double deck train sets to push unit cost down and to cut down on the frequency, in contrast with Britain. Obviously over here in the UK the use of double deck stock is well nigh impossible anyway but the Dutch situation will avoid the problem of the infrastructure being jammed with frequent, short trains against which Railtrack justifiably protests. Strangely enough the access charges will be levied based on all the planned services, including ECS trips, not the actually executed services. Extra trips will be subject to on the spot negotiations. Passenger traffic will have to pay about NLG 200m per year, but here too is a start up regulation. In 2000 it will be only 15% (NLG 35m), 2001 30%, 2002 45%, 2003 60%, 2004 80% and in 2005 the full amount.
Freight operators NS-Cargo, ACTS and ShortLines will also have to pay. The cost for the freight transporters will be lower than that of the passenger operators as otherwise they would lose all their competition power in one fell swoop. The tariff will be based on the number of train-kilometres run multiplied with a yearly fixed tariff, in 2000 0.3, in 2001 0.4, in 2002 0.5 etc until in 2007 the full whack will have to be paid (assumed to be NLG 22m for that year) and cost cutting within the various companies has brought them back to competitiveness. Here too it's the kilometres that count, not the weight, so will those freight trains be massive, with good prospects for customers to do deals for extra wagonloads on marginal costs in already booked trains. EWS and Freightliner must be licking their lips reading this.
Minister Tineke Netelenbosch, the Dutch House of Commons (the 2nd Chamber) and NS are at loggerheads once more. NS-Reizigers has, as was promised in a government paper called "rail in the third century" has taken up its right to tender exclusively on the high-speed operations before a public call for tendering could be made. NS opted for a non-compliant franchise bid until 2035 instead of 2015 due to the billions to be invested in rolling stock and offered a thorough integration of national and international high speed traffic as a seamless InterCity operation with all sorts of clever through connections. Minister Netelenbosch and her committee of knowledgeable gentlemen found this both qualitatively as well as quantitatively below expectations. The Minister then offered NS-R a week to come up with a more acceptable bid, which they refused. They will now compete in the public tendering and no doubt they will have a very good chance, as due to their exclusive access to the Kernnet for InterCity operations they are the only operator who can offer such a completely integrated national/international timetable. Other operators can only offer high-speed traffic to Amsterdam - Rotterdam - Breda and possibly on to Antwerpen. They will rely on NS-R to offer onwards connections. It is doubtful that on this basis anyone except the giant CGEA/ Vivendi would or could actually raise the finance to purchase the necessary high-speed rolling stock. Nevertheless, 30 firms have reacted, among who is the Amsterdam Municipal bus, tram, metro and ferry operator GVB. No joke!
Looking at the EU directive which initiated the split of operations from infrastructure and the various types of operations from each other, I am sure that as far as freight transport is concerned it was the right measure and has undoubtedly given the freight operators the tools to do their job and focused their attention on their bottom line and on an awareness of what their customers actually wants. But as far as passenger transport is concerned it has internationally made the railways a toy for various secretaries of state who relish the interference without carrying a great deal of responsibility for the outcome. Thus they only generate disintegration within the transport mode and within the overall picture of public transport, which is increasingly noticeable in the Netherlands where a far-advanced integration of virtually all modes of public transport has been a fact of everyday life for a considerable time. It is this irresponsibility among politicians which in the near future could cause damage when diminished profitability as a result of this political aggro causes the desire to keep running trains to lag (see the NS-R attitude toward local traffic and watch the coming franchise round in Britain as far as the rural services is concerned). Absolutely no one is really interested anymore in picking up services unless far reaching concessions from the government concerning interference with operations and pricing, frequency and service levels are being met. And that would be the end of otherwise potentially beneficial government transport policies. If only some common sense was applied as it used to be in the ‘bad’ old days of fully state regulated transport!
From the 29th of November 1999 NS Materieel, the maintenance and refurbishment
arm of the NS Holding, has changed its name to NedTrain. Even though the
company remains within the NS Holding it will seek extensive co-operation
with companies in the same line of business abroad and is now engaged in
an advertising campaign in British special interest railway magazines.
The existing activities have been put into three groups, 1)-Refurbishment
and Overhaul (Haarlem and
One of the new names on the NS-R front is the concept of InterCity Max. These are the 220 km/h (140 mph) multi-voltage DD High Speed trainsets which are slated to be the backbone of the Dutch domestic services on the new Eastern and Southern lines and beyond on the existing network. In 2006 the first of these units should be on the move in the foreseen integrated high-speed national and international network, next to the international Thalys TGV and ICE units, according to a brochure issued by NS. The frequency is planned to be so high that a timetable for the intending traveller is deemed absolutely superfluous (200 high-speed departures per working day between Amsterdam and Rotterdam in 2015, to which regional and normal fast services must be added).
The InterCity Max units as shown in this brochure, with their rather short coaches as far as usual European practice is concerned, triggered recognition in me but it was until I saw a TOMIX N-Gauge model rail catalogue that it occurred to me what units they actually are. They are Japanese Shin Kansen double deck bullet train units and even in their Japanese livery they carry the logo MAX on them, which was confirmed when I leafed through other Japanese magazines I have. Would NS-R really buy Japanese high-speed units? That certainly would be a nasty pin pointing at the shiny Alsthom bubble in the high-speed manufacturers market in Europe -and beyond- and has the making of exciting news indeed. In old money, the necessary investment in this type of train is said to be NLG 2b, which is a lot but it is doubtlessly cheaper than what a similar number of TGV DD sets would cost, never mind the likely extortionate prices of the as yet not even existing ICE DD trainsets. Just as extra information; the extended and multi-voltage DD-IRM sets will appear as "InterCity" sets on the connecting classic network, the present DD-AR sets with mDDM power cars as regional "Link" feeder trains. Whatever is left for NS-R in the local services will be worked by electric light trainsets under the "SterSprinter" branding. The present SGM "Sprinter" EMU sets do not appear in this set-up, neither does plan T, V and U, SM'90 and DM'90, the DD push-pull rakes and indeed other domestic loco-hauled services.
Transrapid MagLev vehicle on show in Friesland
Amsterdam is also the occasional venue for a really spectacular and usually non-lethal derailment, and it happened again on 19 December 1999, when number 913 on an empty trip to pick up its duties at Amstelveen at around 07:15, approached VeTag radio-electronically controlled points on the Stadionweg-Herculesstraat intersection at speed. The driver thought that the points were lying normal, which they were not. The tram jumped the track, went into a tangential direction up onto the pavement while carefully avoiding hitting parked cars and disappeared for about a meter into the front of no. 133 Herculesstraat, a physiotherapy surgery, where due to the early hour fortunately no-one was present. The driver saved his backside by fleetingly moving out of his seat into the rear of the vehicle and doing a bit of strap hanging. After evacuating the occupants on the first floor and shoring up the badly damaged typical 4-story terraced Amsterdam building up, the tram was inched out and re-railed with the assistance of two mobile cranes, a job which was finished by 16:30. The unit is now at Diemen workshops for repairs. Curiously, tram 905 derailed here in pretty much the same way on 30 January 1999 but stopped short of the building. Someone ought to do something about those points, I guess.
HTM borrows their former PCC cars for service
Belgium realised at an early stage that their option for 3kV DC in the midst of the French 25 kV AC and 1.5 kV DC, German 15kV AC and Dutch 1.5kV DC put them in an awkward position as far as money saving long distance through working of electric traction was concerned (ATP did not as yet come into the equation). Therefore they conceived the classes 15 tri- and 16 Bo-Bo' quadricourants in 1963 and 1966 respectively to work trains on the main routes into the already mentioned countries, and relieve the DE locos with their steam heating which had done these jobs previously. In 1970 the last gap in the electrification of the shortest route from Paris Nord to Koeln Hbf had been closed (Liege - Namur) and some really powerful multi voltage traction was required to work the increased loads of up to 800 tonnes over some of the steepest and longest gradients in Western Europe. One electric loco was expected to work the gradient from Aachen Hbf to Aachen Sued, where in steam days a class 01 or 03 pacific would have had two ex-Prussian class 93 or 94 E (0-10-0) tanks banking her train! The fearsome bank from Liege Guillemins station westward also makes a driver scratch his head and requires electric bankers on some services even to this day. Therefore Belgian Rail ordered six more powerful locos of the already existing and successful French quadricourants of the series CC-14100. The locos were delivered in 1973, numbered 1801/06. The frames and bodies were built at Brugge at the works of la Brugeoise et Nivelles (now Bombardier) to French plans; Alsthom delivered the electrics and the monomotor bogies.
Their continuous power is rated at 4,320 kW. They have three Faiveley single arm pantographs, one for both types of DC, one for 15kV AC and one for 25kV AC. An oil-cooled transformer and silicium rectifiers change the AC into 1.5kV DC for traction. This powers the two enormous traction motors through Jeumont-Heidmann switchgear consisting of electrically controlled camshafts, which in turn control the 29 high tension switches bridging the resistances in the traction current circuits. Electrodynamic braking was one of their features, necessary to control their trains on the steep and long descents. With their length of 22 metres they were long and elegant looking locos, the Belgian machines sporting a light blue, mid grey and mid yellow colouring with lots of chromium trim in contrast with the red, orange and grey livery of the French locos. They were the first series to sport the Paul Arzens designed negative rake (forward leaning in layman’s language) noses and windscreens as well as the short monomotor bogies, both of which were to adorn many later types of French built locos including the NS series 1600 and 1700. The possible top speed of the quadricourants was 200 km/h or 125 mph with high gearing, but the machines always travelled with the lower gearing up to 160 km/h or 100 mph with higher power at rail.
Their main spheres of work have always been the Oostende to Koeln, Bruxelles Midi to Paris Nord and the Liege, Namur and Paris fast services, the last two in conjunction with their French counterparts. The longest through service they worked for many years was the Koeln to Paris N via Bruxelles M job of 550 km or 343.75 miles. At the end of 1997 their working to Paris came to an end after the French took their CC-14100 locos out of service, some time thereafter the Thalys units pushed them off the Koeln to Bruxelles and Paris workings. As the locos were rather costly to maintain the idea was to discard them speedily thereafter, but the well publicised trouble with the new electric locos for the Luxembourg and Belgian railways kept them going until now. Interestingly the EuroCity "Memling" from Oostende to Dortmund was one of their jobs to the last, together with their class 16 stable mates. The loco stays with the train in Dortmund and returns the next day, so quite a number of traction units were tied up in this service. The class 18 and the CC-14100 were not admitted on the Dutch network, even though this was initially envisaged. NS found that the heavy machines were rather rough on their bog-ridden tracks in the West of the country! When the French CC-14100 type made its farewell trips this type finally reached Amsterdam, it was mentioned in Nieuwsbrief.
Unfortunately the machines were rather prone to failures (like the other Belgian multi voltage locos) as well as very expensive to maintain, and after 1997 the farewell to the tracks had been set well in motion. In fact, it was 1805 that went OOU as the last member in regular service on the 12th of July 1999, reaching her mileage before a heavy overhaul fell due, the normal reason for older traction to bow out. 1803, the machine which worked the above mentioned special, had been taken off the rosters in May 1997, reaching her mileage limit but was retained to work specials. So far the very last job has seen their use as rolling ballast to test the Hammer bridge on the new high-speed line near Hergenrath in Germany on the 5th of November 1999. Three class 18 were sandwiched between two class 55 DE locos for that job, which must also have been their last appearance in Germany. So far none of the locos has been scrapped.
RTM Ouddorp tests its narrow gauge steam locos
SHM now fully responsible for its line
SSN releases rolling stock
In the meantime the turntable, acquired from Moenchengladbach in Germany, has been taken apart and lifted out of its pit in nine days work, during which the various other bits such as the track connections around the rim and the revolving bearings etc. were not forgotten. On the 16th of September a 160 tonne crane lifted everything on three lorries, which brought the gear to the "Stork" factory in Hengelo where it will be professionally cleaned, repaired and preserved. Now SSN will have to manufacture a new pit in Rotterdam Noord, the ground for which has already been offered by the Rotterdam municipality. SSN, as yet still working hard on raising funds for the construction of this pit, hopes to have the turntable operational in 2001.
ZLSM runs internationally in 2000
ZLSM has had its workshop in Simpelveld officially certified as a repair shop for historical railway rolling stock and may now tender for jobs outside the scope of its own ZLSM work. Also, legally required examinations and tests may now be executed in Simpelveld, which saves both time and cost. In the meantime they had ex-SJ 1'D (2-8-0) steam loco 1040 certified for main line running at 75 km/h on RailNed. Now they are tackling the job of getting ex-SJ 2'C (4-6-0) 1220 back in service. Four former Swedish steam locos (1040, 1090, 1220 and 1289) can now be seen in active service in the European Continental heartland. Added to this fleet is a WD austerity C (0-6-0) saddle tank, which is now in the process of a total overhaul and which will probably take two years.
As far as leaf-fall problems is concerned, in November an extra train of 335 tonnes came to grief outside Eys on the way to Simpelveld when the sandboxes of the loco were empty due to continuous sanding on the very slippery road. A light loco with full sandboxes retrieved the stricken train, which eventually arrived 35 minutes late at Simpelveld. Contrary to British experience, the passengers were delighted to have experienced this phenomenon.
Stichting Rijssens Leemspoor receive a pressurised air mine-loco from
Holland Scale … Scenery for the Dutch Modeller, Tel. (0031) 33 432 3456
Holland Scale was established about 10 years ago, being the first manufacturer to specialise in scale models of Dutch houses. The range is constantly expanding, with currently more than 15 models available, most of them costing around £15.00. Current models have more than once been voted ‘best model of the year’. Most models are built from plastic parts, all in the right colour!
All ‘Holland Scale’ models are available at major Dutch swapmeets including Houten (see agenda in Nieuwsbrief 30) and EuroSpoor (November 2000).
KleiNSpoor, Hendrik de keijserstraat 3, 5041 JA Tilburg Tel. (0031) 13 542 03 75
KleiNSpoor has since 1st November 1999 moved to new premises in Tilburg. Their press release says that they now have a lot more room including a dedicated showroom, which can be visited, having made an appointment by telephone. Through more space, and therefore more efficient working practises, they now hope to eliminate the backlog of orders by the end of 1st half of 2000. New productions will be issued in greater quantities to avoid being sold out straight away.
New models such as the ACTS-2 wagon will be available from Jan 2000 onwards. They also plan to finish the development of Strukton UFM 120 Eurailscout and start to produce this model this year. The recently announced ‘Buffetruituig’ and NS 2600 “De Beel”(?) are also in the development stage, with ‘samples’ being shown at Nuremberg in February. KleiNSpoor also supplies a wide range of transfers, for both HO and N gauge.
For an up-to-date list, send sae to Paul Stoddart-van der Maaden.
MK Modelbouwstudio’s, M. Kastelijn, Milrooiseweg 14, 5258 KH Berlicum
Tel. (0031) 73 503 3331
Spoorcuriosa, Dr. Leydstraat 69, 2021 RG Haarlem Tel/Fax (0031) 23 527 5645
Spoorcuriosa has been supplying kits since 1985. The latest is their centre carriage for the ‘Sprinter’, making your existing ‘Sprinter’ into a 3- car unit. It is supplied in kit-form at f149 guilders or ready-made at f199 guilders. They can also supply the lighting set at an extra Dfl 27.50. Spoorcuriosa also supplies parts including ‘Faulhaber motors’, Winert, THS paint and parts for the Roco ‘Blokkendoos’ (old version).
JophiSpoor, Postbus 1032, 5900 BA Venlo Tel. (0031) 77 373 8554
JophiSpoor have for the last ten years specialised in the design and supply
of interiors for Dutch motor units and carriages. JophiSpoor does not have
a shop, but their showroom can be visited in the evenings and weekends
by prior arrangement. They also exhibit at all the major exhibitions and
The following article is a list of new items that may be of interest to the HO scale Benelux modeller, all this information has come off of the Internet. I have shown the catalogue number when it was listed, and a brief description of the item. Where the shops gave any idea of release date I have shown this in the last column. I don't expect the list is totally complete, but it’s better than nothing!
Marklin AC / Trix DC
I wish you luck trying to obtain some of the above models, I would recommend using the Internet for finding and purchasing models. You will be presently surprised how much easier and cheaper it can be. I have already successfully ordered a model of CFL 853 from the Luxembourg shop.
Web sites used: -
A few words for those readers who are unfamiliar with the Benelux sets, they were introduced towards the end of 1988 to provide a reversible traction operation. The Benelux sets are a joint effort between the NS and SNCB, with the NS providing the rolling stock, and the SNCB providing the locomotives. The traditional composition is 7 NS InterCity coaches including the driving coach. These are 2 firsts, 1 second luggage, 1 driving second and 2 standard seconds. Recently a 10-coach set was spotted on an “Eclipse” special to Arlon. Motive power is provided by an SNCB type 11 electric locomotive in either pull or push mode. Livery is a stripe of maroon and a slightly deeper shade of NS yellow. These sets run between Bruxelles Gare du Midi and Amsterdam Centraal, a distance of 235 km, at hourly intervals. Journey time is 3 hours 5 minutes, and seven sets are required for active service. Normally the driving coach heads the set south from Amsterdam. The set is reversed at Antwerpen Centraal, and crews changed, 6 minutes being scheduled for this activity. Occasionally when running late the Antwerpen Centraal stop is omitted and passengers have to be content with Berchem. In all the sets service 13 stations including the 2 termini, they are: - Bruxelles Gare du Midi, Centraal, Nord, Mechelen, Berchem, Antwerpen Centraal, Roosendaal, Dordrecht, Rotterdam, Den Haag HS, Leiden, Schiphol and Amsterdam CS.
As readers will be aware Roosendaal is where the sets convert from left hand running on the SNCB to right hand on the NS. Roosendaal can be a station of “lost hopes”, having been marooned there several times myself. Once going south during an SNCB strike, after a longish wait and unsuccessful negotiations with local taxis (minimum of 400 NLG) NS saved the day by laying on a coach to Bruxelles. With all the additional Belgian traffic I just made the last Eurostar by 5 minutes. Other times were during major NS works when the sets were either diverted via Utrecht, or terminated at Rotterdam and Roosendaal. In either case this meant disembarking and continuing on local services with multiple changes, and strategic elbow use to get a seat! From time to time the preserved NS steam 3737 was seen raising steam at Roosendaal in preparation for a special.
At one time with the 10:27 Eurostar from Waterloo there would be a leisurely connection at Bruxelles Gare du Midi. Now with the opening of the Belgian TGV track the arrival is much earlier. It is just possible with a quick exit through immigration, and an Olympic sprint to platform 19 to catch the 14:08 Benelux connection in place of the 15:08.
Passengers can be quite cosmopolitan,
one in particular, travelling to Bruxelles with a large paper bag over
his head. One “regular” would
get on at Rotterdam (north bound) and solicit money for a shower. A somewhat
novel request, and well researched, as ticket control was usually non-existent
between Rotterdam and Den Haag. Normally the journey would pass without
incident but one journey had the excitement of a “pot shot” at
the train between Dordrecht and Rotterdam. This shattered the outer window
in front of me, the adjacent occupant being somewhat alarmed. This resulted
in a longish wait at Rotterdam whilst the police investigated; eventually
we departed with much Sellotape across the window.