Issue 32 - April 2000
Compiled and translated by Peter van der Mark, with special thanks to Mrs Woestmann from Burgsteinfurt (D), Jim Vine from Amersfoort and many no less sincere thanks to all the others keeping up the good work. Media publications used are Rail Magazine, Today's Railways, Het Openbaar Vervoer, Metro, De Volkskrant, de Gelderlander and de Telegraaf.
As reported in the previous issue of Nieuwsbrief, the 1300 / 1600 swap has been confirmed by NS-C in its Railion Benelux guise. The ten available class 1300 Co-Co' E-locos will be reinstated, freed of asbestos and be given an overhaul to extend their working life, after which ten B-B' E-locos class 1600 will be sold to NS-R to become their class 1800. A spanner in the works could turn out to be that the Cargo 1600's have been subject to a sale and leaseback deal and the owning bank still has to agree.
Number 2207 is the last operational class 2200 Bo-Bo' DE-loco on the Dutch mainland, the others are now all based in Zeeuws Vlaanderen on the isolated line from Terneuzen into Belgium, where they regularly meet up with their now Belgian owned classmates. 2207 is used to shunt and trip the long rakes of coaches for the NS-Int. trains to holiday destinations at Leidschendam depot and may be spotted at work on Sunday mornings after the winter sports trains return from Austria. When the loco fails a 6400 is substituted.
Four of the 29 still available Bo-Bo' electric ex-postal motorcoaches
have received an extensive overhaul. They are to be hired to RailInfraBeheer,
who will put two at the disposal of Alsthom and two at the disposal of
Adtranz UK for testing of the new (ERTSMS) ECTS phase 3 and 4 signalling
systems or any other thing they might want to see tested. This could very
well include signalling kit for RailNed and for the WCML upgrade in Britain
and traction kit for the new 25 kV AC system which will soon be an item
on the tracks in The Netherlands.
NoordNed, the operator on what was formerly known as the Northern diesel lines in the provinces of Groningen and Friesland, is working on setting up a new service from the port of Eemshaven (now only served by freight trains, but with ferries to the Dutch and German Wadden islands) via Groningen to Germany along the Nieuweschans line which is being upgraded for substantially higher speeds. Consecutively a similar connection from Harlingen to Germany, for the same reason, is being mooted. Their main problem at this moment is rolling stock, as failures, ATB fitting drives and growing ridership are putting the available resources under high pressure. NS-R has hired another two DH1 units to NoordNed.
NS-R wants to get rid of its expensive to operate, non push-pull loco-hauled trains and to turn all operations into an EMU comparable bi-directional operation with mainly Double Deck stock. In the longer term NS-R locos will only be used on DD-AR push-pull sets (dedicated class 1700), a number of DDM push-pull sets (class 1800) but for the short term only on a number of long distance trains with plan W, K4 and ICR stock. On this last type the announced big refurb drive has now started, for which reason the top and tail operated ICR rakes, which were introduced on the IJssel line from Zwolle via Arnhem to Roosendaal, have been withdrawn again. This frees these coaches to either reinforce services elsewhere or to be taken in for refurbishment. Their turns have been filled mainly with the already refurbished plan V 2-car and plan T 4-car EMU's.
A new class has appeared in the stock library of RailNed, class 6000. These former East German and Czech diesel hydraulic V60 0-8-0 shunting locos have received the numbers 6001/2/3. At the moment, 6001 taken over from SSN in Rotterdam is used for cannibalisation purposes but re-entry to traffic is certainly planned, for which reason it received a running number. The general condition of the two Czech locos turned out to be very good, as both received new engines as recently as 1982 and did very little mileage after that. The main alterations were the provision of Telerail secure cab radio and new batteries. Furthermore the wheels were re-profiled and the locos received the smart looking mid-blue with mid-yellow stripe ACTS livery, thankfully without the awful Vos stickers as yet. Number 6002 will normally shunt the AmRo intermodal shuttle in the Westhaven in Amsterdam. Meanwhile a remarkable swap has been made with the owners of ex-BR 1501 and 1221. ACTS has exchanged their 1208 for 1221 with the Werkgroep, as 1221 is still in very reasonable condition, but more importantly still has its ATB kit fitted. After its refurb it will receive the number 1255
On the 6th of February 4 new tracks of 575m length, spanned by two new Nelcon gantry cranes were taken into use at RSC (Rail Service Centre) Waalhaven in Rotterdam, doubling handling capacity in one fell swoop. Storage space for containers on the ground has been extended from 1000 to 1600 teu, which means that with stacking the actual number of stored containers has doubled to 3200 teu.
The track between Enschede and Gronau is to be completely replaced, this
includes the ballast. After this replacement the track will be suitable
only for operations with modern, lightweight DMU's, which will prevent
its use as a diversionary route for freight trains (one of the fears is
that this line would become a rat-run for Betuwe corridor freights now
that the Northern branch of that line has been cancelled). Dutch involvement
will go as far as the little bridge across the equally little river Glane
at Glanerbrug, the German authorities will take care of the line from there
which includes replacement of the bridge. Two new Dutch stations will be
built, at Glanerbrug and at Eschmarke near the village of Dolphia. All
six local road-crossings on the line will be secured by AHB installations,
but two major country roads will get tunnels. At Enschede station the old
situation cannot be restored because of the lengthening of the present
InterCity platforms. A new platform will be installed North of the main
platform. This will initially require travellers to use an existing crossing
although a tunnel is slated for later. Half-hourly departures from Enschede
are planned. Each hour a train will continue to Muenster via Burgsteinfurt,
the other hour the train will continue to Dortmund via Coesfeld, even though
this last connection was only in the planning stage at the time of writing.
Another such regional international development is the Nieuweschans-Weener line. On the 1st of April this section of the remote and rural international connection between Groningen and Leer will be closed in order to be fully upgraded with long passing loops and renewed track allowing much higher speeds and axle loads. Until the start of the summer services buses will ferry the passengers across the border. On the 28th May NoordNed will take over the operation from Groningen to Nieuweschans and this bus service will cease. Freight between the Randstad and the Bremen / Hamburg area is also going to use this connection.
And a third one, the line from Maastricht to Lanaken (Hasselt), which was closed in 1989. It is felt that reopening for freight of this international line with its many through-connections at either end would be a stimulus for industrial redevelopment in this area. In fact, the local manufacturing industry (paper) is pressing for this line to be reopened, even though the line to be reopened is only 7 km long. The price of reopening estimated to be in the region of ECU 8m, which is to a large extent due to the fact that there are two major lifting bridges across the river Maas (Meuse) and the Albert Canal, which will need heavy work done.
The widest bore tunnel in the world will be built at Leiderdorp in the Netherlands on the Southern High Speed Line. In order to placate the NIMBY factor as well as to provide a bit of protection to the rapidly diminishing green spaces in the Randstad area a 7 km long bored tunnel of 14 m diameter will be built. This is sufficient to let trains pass at their scheduled speed of 300 km/h; work will start in 2001 and is scheduled for completion in 2005.
It is doubtful that the track between Utrecht and Arnhem will be quadrupled to accommodate the High-Speed operations to Koeln and Frankfurt/Main. What will happen is that the existing tracks will be upgraded to allow speeds of up to 160 km/h (100 mph) or 200 km/h (125 mph) although even that is not altogether certain. Minister Netelenbosch announced that new research shows that the demand for this connection is substantially lower than that on the Amsterdam - Brussel - Paris HSL South corridor and that one train per hour will cover the demand adequately for the years until 2020. The required investment of NLG 3 to 6 bn in track, catenary and signalling for the full upgrade will hardly bring the extra traffic originally expected and can therefore not be justified on those grounds. Protests against this are being heard around Arnhem as now that the Northern Branch of the Betuwe freight corridor has been cancelled as well, this pared down plan would result in dense classic operations, heavy North/Southbound freight and East/Westbound high speed trains all jostling for slots on the existing tracks around the Arnhem hub. The high-speed plans have not been shelved as yet, but more research is needed, according to the minister. Arnhem is also looking at light rail options for traffic to Zevenaar. The recently ordered very light Syntus owned LinT trains are due in about a year’s time and the track and signalling is being altered for them. So what exactly is meant there is not entirely clear.
This unexpected and rather inflexible move by the government undoes everything
they have done so far to engender competition on the tracks. Seeing that
both ShortLines and ACTS started up by taking over domestic services which
NS-C found they could not work profitably, it is distinctly possible that
if this ruling is strictly adhered to (which somehow I doubt it will),
freight flows will in fact be lost to rail in the near future. In setting
this deadline the ministry has been advised by RailNed, which is still
part of the NS-Holding, and the suspicions arise that the NS people have
schemed this up to stunt the rapidly developing competition.
Railion has indicated that they are willing to take over the freight arm of the Danish State Railways DSB, called DSB Gods. The parcels services of DSB will be closed down unless they can find a buyer as well. A little bone of contention is that Railion is not really willing to take over some of the existing commitments, notably the rather generous pension provisions of Danish Railways workers. DSB Gods was thought to run at an estimated loss of around DKK 115m in 1998, which, however, turned out to be no less than DKK 176m when the final tally was totted up. Incidentally, DB-Cargo will keep operating under its existing name, NS-Cargo and possible others will operate under the Railion brand. This, it is said, is because of the strong brand goodwill surrounding the DB-Cargo image in Germany. More cynical souls might feel that the Railion trademark does not meet with the overall enthusiasm of the people who have to live with it, but it has cost too much to chuck it in the bin where it is generally felt it belongs.
The new General Manager of the DBAG Holding, Hartmuth Mehdorfer, has clearly
indicated that as far as he is concerned DBAG will not be responsible for
the operating risk of the long postponed Transrapid MagLev operation between
Berlin and Hamburg. This effectively puts paid to this high tech transport
enterprise and puts the possibility of this system ever being used for
proposed services in The Netherlands on the backburner. The interest in
the Dutch Government for this new technology is not very intense either,
as the estimated NLG 9 bn would buy with it a host of problems, such as
fitting the raised track into the already overly full flat landscape while
the economical benefits are doubtful.
Terug naar Toen 2000, this "back to then" celebration, which reoccurs with a certain regularity, will this year coincide with the 25-year VSM festivities. The combined effort will foreseeably result in a grand diesel spectacle whereby VSM with her complete collection of ex-NS DE traction will just be a starter; many foreign types of loco will be invited for show and demonstration. As soon as more concrete plans are advertised we'll let you know. At this moment VSM is reappraising the possibility of bringing its ex-DB 0-6-0 steam loco 80 036, the one with which VSM kicked off her active existence, back to life.
Correction: In issue 31 it was stated that the Belgian class 18’s
were based on the French C-C-14100’s, this should actually be C-C-40100.
Now that the €133m worth of 90 new class 77 B-B' DH locos have
turned out to be rather better than initially expected the next question
locos will they replace first? The Belgian traction industry has delivered
some very small series of locos for testing purposes, which under state
control ended up in small depots as a local series. The question now is
not which of the series will go, but which ones will go first?
The line from Dunkerque to De Panne reopened for freight. This "Dune" line, skirting the French / Belgian North sea coast line, has been reopened for a very interesting traffic, that of molten steel in torpedo wagons, between the steel giant Usinor’s plants of Cockerill Sambre in Charleroi and Liege and the Florange and Chertal works in Dunkerque and Leffrinckouke. Usinor is a merger similar to that of Hoogovens and British Steel into Corus. The passenger service was dropped in 1994 as being too costly to maintain with its summer only potential, but reinstatement is loudly pushed. Reinstatement works were comparatively minimal, mostly consisting of sand fencing to keep the dunes off the right of way.
Assessing the present access from Germany and the Brussel region to the North bank of the Antwerpen harbour via Berchem as booked solid, a new line to bypass this central Antwerpen corridor is under study. Leaving the main line at Nazareth junction and following various motorway alignments toward the line to Roosendaal, various OOU bits of old railway alignment could be used. Antwerpen is pushing very hard for this line, which would free considerable timetabling space at Berchem and in the Centraal triangle.
The works on the Eastern High Speed Line between Leuven and Liege are advancing rapidly and track laying as well as the electrification will start at the end of this year. This means that Belgian Rail will start looking for works traction soon. Watch what is going to happen with those class 37's now slogging it out in France. The old Baldwin based class 59 Bo-Bo' diesel electrics and the ex-NS class 76 Baldwin based Bo-Bo’s will certainly be part of the show again. It is expected that the line will be ready for testing at the beginning of 2002; the commencement of regular services (Thalys at 300 km/h and InterCity at 200 km/h) is slated for May 2002. The connection from Liege into Germany is not thought likely to be in service before 2005, even though works are visibly progressing apace here as well.
Tracitematerieel van de NMBS 1999-2000, this book, available since January, is described as a unique reference with 132 pages, covered from ‘head to toe’ with colour photographs. Covering all traction that is and will be used during the period 1999-2000, it is available in both French and Dutch. Costs: 1495 Bfr.
The traffic discussion group of Lochristi wants to open Station Beervelde (Gent – Lokeren line), which closed 18 years ago. This initiative is intended to relieve the congestion on the approach roads into Gent. The NMBS wants to shut Sint-Gillis, so those passengers are forced to use station Dendermonde. There is also a plan for a new station at Zeebrugge, to be completed may 2001. The station is to be built in the Strandwijk area, making it one of the few stations where you can fall out of the train straight onto the beach.
From May 28th onwards the NMBS will also relocate the car-trains from Schaerbeek to Denderleeuw. The Beveren council is therefore campaigning for a bridge and a tunnel at this railway crossing on the N70 (Melse end Zwijndrecht) road. The NMBS wants to double the track in order to improve the transport to and from the Waaslandhaven. Without bridge or tunnel the council claims worsening traffic jams will ensue at this location. There is also a study into the building of a tunnel or rail bridge to connect the harbour area at the Scheldeoever more directly with the yard at Antwerpen Noord. The preference is for a tunnel but it is feared this will cost too much. A double-track bridge has also been suggested.
The profits made by the Belgian Railways will for the financial period 1999 be 900 million francs a reduction which is mainly due to a strong increase in write-offs and an increase in personnel costs. A modest profit of 52 million francs is projected for 2000. On top of this, The Netherlands is looking to offer €2000 football supporters free travel to/from the football venues. Belgium however is more in favour of a one-tariff system, similar to that on train-tram-bus days. Also, graffiti is costing the NMBS increasingly more, estimated this year at 40 million francs. This sum covers a special paint-job on the latest trains, making it more difficult to get spray-can paints to stick. To end on a lighter note, the Intercontainer-Interfrigo (ICF) group, the pan-Euro network for combined transport of ‘cooled’ goods transport based in Basle, has in the last 12 months used 90 trains to transport over 55000 tons of Chiquita bananas from the Antwerp harbours to the Tjech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.
Infrastructure … Work has started on the erection of the catenary for line 9 Diemen to the Main Tram Works yard. The catenary masts are already there. In January work was also started on replacing the track on the PostjesWeg section (Old-West Amsterdam) – the new trackbed will be set at a higher level than the original, so that a raised tramroad is created (instead of the track being at road-level). Work is expected to be completed end of March. February saw the removal of the old Line 5 track at Strawinskylaan. This is because of the building work at Station Zuid/WTC and a temporary bus station. Councillor Meijer has also suggested that to improve the public transport in the inner city, Line 2 and 6 will once again run through the Grote Marktstraat. A new tram-stop will be built in front of the Hema and Bijenkorf department stores.
Advertising … To tie-in with €2000, all white/ green trams, 25 metros (series 5100) and a number of busses will carry new advertising, ideally making a reference to the EK (Europeesche Kampionschappen). All these units will carry this advertising until August. The yellow trams will not carry EK adverts, as their paint-jobs are not suitable for stick-on/ peel-off banners.
Celebrations … are planned between May and September to celebrate the jubilee-year of the GVB. Festivities will be organised throughout Amsterdam for Tram, Bus, Metro and the Ferry.
RET – Rotterdam
Expansion of TramNet…? The PvdA (Dutch Labour) recently presented a discussion document to reinstate the Rotterdamse tramnet. This is intended to speed up the development of the TramPlus system and the expansion of the tram network. A possible scheme appears to be a new ‘tourism’ line, which if accepted, will connect Diergaarde Blijdorp, Central Station, and the “Spido” (Willemsplein) to a circle-line through the old districts and popular tourist spots (Delfshaven and Croosboot).
New Stadionlijn … The 30th January saw the official opening of line 23, the new public transport connection between the Central Station and the Feyenoord football stadium. Line 23 uses the 1600 series trams, with a frequency of one every five minutes. The line starts running 2 hrs before every large event at the stadium, and continues to run through the evening (and night) as long as there are passengers.
New Metro/ SnelTrams … Out of a total of 42 on order from Bombardier, the majority have now been delivered and are operational on the Erasmuslijn. The development of the 18 sneltrams (express-trams) has already started. To transform a metro into a sneltram involves two important adjustments - the fitting of a pantograph and rail breaks. Both the metro and sneltram units are expected to be operational by 2001 – just in time to run on the extended Caland line (Beneluxlijn).
New Transport Museum … Stoomstichting Nederland has recently announced the intention to establish a National Transport museum. It is intended to bring together existing collections under one roof, including those of the Rotterdam’s RET (city transport), Rotterdam’s Amenities (Roteb) and from a number of local transport companies. A number of possible locations have been cited, including those of the old van Nelle complex and the yard at Vierhavenstraat. Much will of course depend on the finances available, but support is already on offer from the Development Corp of Rotterdam and various companies in the Rotterdam tourism sector.
Marklin/Trix presented three versions of the bulk silo "bollenwagens",
the ICR BkD standard brake composite, the red NS-Cargo / CAIB bogie coil
steel wagons, the NS-Cargo red 1637 electric loco and the NS-Cargo 6400
Roco has gone into overdrive to please the Dutch / Belgian market. The ACTS version of the ex-Belgian GM Bo-Bo’s appeared in the guise of 6705, thankfully without Harry Vos stickers. Furthermore a plan W coach based on the German Silberfische local carriages (in InterCity livery) was re-issued. For the Blokkendoos EMU a third class motor coach type mC and a second-class carriage Bec B5101 were put on the shelves as well as a loco hauled first class carriage A6005. For the freight train the old type of non-ISO container wagon, two types of low-sided opens (Lw and S-LWO), various types of Bollenwagens (Ucs and Uces), a bogie tank wagon with EVA livery, an NBM P-Way closed van in a red, white and blue livery and two closed four wheel vans of the CHCKP type but with different numbers found their way into the shop. For the present day operator Roco issued the big bogie sliding wall vans as leased by NS-Cargo from the Ahaus-Alstatter Eisenbahn
Liliput/Bachmann issued a Railion loco in the shape of 6494; very good-looking but as Liliput used the body of a standard MaK loco it is actually shorter than it should be. They also brought out an old type of small two-axle NS tank wagon in a Shell Teepol livery.
Rivarossi/Lima/Arnold has announced the imminent issue of the mDDM tri-Bo' power car for your HO DD-AR sets. April was mentioned as the planned date but delay must be expected. Their 1200 appears as 1253 in ACTS livery without detrimental other stickers. Various types of modern freight stock in HO and N appear in Railion livery. In N the Fad bogie hopper also appears in the very green Belgian Cargo livery. For ShortLines fans, a bogie container carrier with two 30 ft IBC bulk-containers makes your train.
Piko is busy with the development of NS Mat’54 "Hondekop" family EMU's, to start with the two-car Benelux version is to be issued sometime in 2001 in accurate 1:87. The older type of NS bogie tank wagons will be re-released with different sets of numbers; the same goes for the set of older NS low-sided wagons. Issues of an old refrigerated van with Zwanenberg logos and a tank wagon with Staatsmijnen Benzeen inscriptions are planned.
KleiNSpoor HO/THS N has issued the ACTS bogie container carrier in both N and HO with working turntables. Incidentally, the same intermodal system is now being promoted in Britain. Since Marklin bought out Trix and Minitrix, THS have lost the kind of connection, which made very nice things possible based on Minitrix motorised frames. This means that they are now developing their own drives for their N-Gauge range, so watch that price go up.
Artitec, lovely HO models of a small Dutch (look at that heating fuel tank and the electrical cabinet at the back) and a bigger Danish signal box. The big cracker by a long way is the N-Gauge model of what is commonly known as a "Dutch" or a 500 ton "paragraph" coaster, loaded with a number of containers.
Brekina are strongly profiling themselves with HO models of fifties and sixties cars and freight vehicles. On their way to the shops is a range of versions with Dutch liveries and colours.
A new manufacturer has appeared on the scene, name OsKar. It appears OsKar – an Italian company – has a lot in store for the Belgian modeller. Their first project appears to be 6 Belgian wagons of the type Rmms, Rgmms, Remms, Smms, Sgmmns and Shimms. All models will be to scale and a high degree of characteristics/ detail included and includes close-couplings. Designed to compliment Lima’s M4 series, OsKar will also be releasing an M4-AD, a 1st class carriage with baggage compartment and head-conductor’s cabin. Available in Epoch-IV burgundy with grey band livery (numbered 3004 and 3005), Epoch-V burgundy livery (numbered 3000 and 3001), and Epoch-V beige/blue livery (numbered 3002 and 3003), it is thought they will cost they will cost around Bfr 2000.
Klein Modellbahn the Austrian manufacturer has released three goods wagons. Firstly, a 4-axle goods wagon type-Fas in green livery carrying the B-Cargo logo, available in 2 different numbers (catalogue ref. 86/99 and 87/99). These wagons are mostly used by large firms for carrying bulk-goods. Secondly, they have launched a 2-axle wagon of type-Hbillns. It is a re-release with new numbers (catalogue ref. 73/99).
Promoted as a ‘unique publication; Phillippe Callaert has put together a publication which covers everything which has ever been modelled in Belgian Ho. With most models featured in colour, he lists production data, variants, liveries etc. Published in A5+, it contains 600 pages and carries a price-tag o Bfr 1995.
Only recently taken out of service, the series 18 of the NMBS has been one of their most noticeable workhorses. Many of you may have Lima’s version of the 18. Now PB Messing Modelbouw has introduced a kit to make your Series 18 into a Super Model.
Botlek tunnel crossing the Oude Maas, which will replace the existing single-track bridge. This tunnel will be over 3 km in length and will also be the first bored construction work for NS. Work was authorised on this tunnel in 1999 with construction planned to start in the first quarter of 2000.
Sophia tunnel, which crosses the Noord and Rietbaan rivers, will be approximately 8 km long and run from Kijfhoek to Papendrecht. Again this will be bored. Construction started approximately 1 year ago on the access ramps.
Giessen tunnel which surprise surprise crosses the Giessen River will be a more modest 1.4 km long. Construction will be by ‘cut and cover’ and the contract was awarded in January 2000.
Pannerdensch tunnel crossing the Pannerdensch canal will be approximately 2.5 km long and will be of bored construction.
Zevenaar tunnel will be built to cover the route through an urban area. Construction will be by ‘cut and cover’. The contracts for this and the Pannerdensch tunnel were awarded at the end of 1999.
A similar problem exists at Barendrecht, where a covered track approximately 1.5 km long will be constructed. This will take both the freight and TGV lines, which will then be screened from the adjacent urban areas.
The whole design concept of this route is to minimise any environmental
impact. This no doubt increases the cost, but is cheaper than the initial
concept of total underground construction! Tunnel external diameters will
be between 8 and 9 metres. The long tunnels will have similar features
to the Channel tunnel with respect to emergency access and evacuation,
with the exception of a central vehicular tunnel. The whole project is
being managed by NS RailInfraBeheer. Each tunnel has been separately bid
for and awarded, generally using the Alliance contractual concept, which
spreads any financial risk between the Contractor and the owner (NS).
The principal objective behind Briefpost2000 was to increase the automation of the sorting-process from 60% to 90%. This coincided with the decision to establish six new sorting locations (hubs) throughout The Netherlands, namely in Amsterdam, Den Haag, ‘sHertogenbosch, Nieuwegein, Rotterdam and Zwolle. The transport of mail by train did and still does not fit in with this new structure, as five of these hubs are not located on the rail-network. They are however easily accessible via the road network, another reason why mail transport is now mainly by road. In fact, the whole process of distributing mail has now gone full-circle, as 180 years ago mail was also predominantly transported by road.
It all began with … In 1844; the Dutch Post Administration contracted the then HSM railway company to carry post, from Amsterdam to Den Haag (and vice versa), with a frequency of once a day. Prior to this period, the majority of post went by road. Only when this was not possible, the railway companies were asked for assistance. In these circumstances, they were forced to do this for nothing. The public also caught onto the speed of the railway, and many times post travelled with the railways – mostly unpaid and thus illegally. Since 1845 the NRS (Nederlandsche Rijnspoorweg) Railway Company also carried post between Amsterdam and Utrecht. They received a payment of 100 guilders per year for this ‘extra load’. Unlike with the HSM, the post travelled unaccompanied.
A bit of England ... When the NRS improved its service on its Amsterdam - Köln route, the postal-service was also disrupted, as many of the trains by-passed stations where they had previously stopped, also to take on mail. The NRS therefore took the decision to exchange mailbags 'on the go'. Many of you will be familiar with such a system, as English railway companies had adopted it earlier.
The NRS chose the English system, as the English influenced much of its railway. The stations involved included Abcoude, Loenen-Vreeland, Breukelen, Maarssen, Maarsbergen and Ede. Although this system was used for a number of years, it did have its problems. Post was often damaged, dropped at the wrong stations and even broke a few station windows.
In 1850 a new law came into force, whereby the railway companies were forced to carry ‘letter’ mail without payment, and in 1857 this was extended to all types of mail. This ‘free transport’ meant that the Post Authority could extend its transport of mail by rail. An exception was however made for foreign mail. For example, the Aken-Maastrichtsche Railway Company, who carried post between Aken (Germany) and Maastricht received a 75% subsidy of the total cost of the mail transport on this route. The railway companies also had to agree to connect a post carriage to their trains, when requested. Personnel for the sorting of the post would be provided by the Post Administration. 1882 saw the introduction of a ‘packet’ service. For this the authorities did come to a financial arrangement with the railway companies. The arrangement of ‘free’ letter mail carried on until 1925.
Railway Post Offices … In 1855 the decision was taken to establish two mail distribution hubs, one at Moerdijk and the other in Amsterdam. Others followed quickly until 1938 when the decision was made to concentrate mail distribution from Utrecht.
Post Wagons … As the railway companies were basically forced to carry mail; they were not too enthusiastic about investing in dedicated mail wagons. It was for this reason that the Post Administration commissioned a total of 27 ‘State’ Post Wagons to be used for its services. An additional 7 were built specifically for international mail. The new post wagons, dubbed the AR L1-L3 (the L denoting L for Lettres) were completed by the firm Pauwels based in Brussels, Belgium, after the original builder, the company Swert in Mechelen, went bankrupt. The wagons went operational in 1856.
Later models followed, built by Dutch firms, including the NRS at their yards in Utrecht. As the transport of mail increased significantly, railway companies including the HSM and SS decided to convert carriages to include a post-compartment, often with seating. This was to enable postal employees to work on the train whilst accompanying the post. Only when the NS was formed in 1921 did all post wagons change their numbering from L (Lettres) to P (for post).
Time for change … The law that forced the free transport of mail ended in 1925, and coincided with the requirement to also transport mail by night. Within a few years, mail and passengers were travelling through the night. The network at this time connected Amsterdam and Rotterdam on the one side, and Maastricht, Hengelo, Groningen and Utrecht on the other. All trains would arrive at Utrecht between 01:00-01:30 and leave for their respective destinations no later than 01:40. The service ran 6 times per week, but not on Sunday night and continued until 1939 when tensions across Europe forced the end of the ‘nightnet’.
During the War … Initially the war hardly affected post traffic.
As time went on, the occupying forces impounded more and more rolling stock
for its own use. This was the case for national and local rail traffic,
including the tram networks. Much of the stock postal stock disappeared
in the direction of Eastern Europe. After the war, a number of wagons were
made available for the transport of post. As before the war, passengers
and mail found themselves on the same service.
6401 Mijndert 6402 Marinus 6403 Gijs 6404*Johan
Notes: 6496 and 6497 are in the first variant of Railion red and 6494
is in the second variant.