l Nieuwsbrief Issue 38 - September 2001
Dutch Railway News Infrastructure Private Operators Miscellaneous News
Tram and Metro Museum News More Dutch News Belgian News
A day on the CFL NS Museum Closes?    

By Paul Stoddart-van der Maaden
A compilation of information translated from Rail Magazine and Het Openbaar Vervoer
The idea to temporarily reinstate a number of 1300's has been shelved. Despite this, 1302 still received a new paint-job and service, and has now been sent to Roosendaal to be used for 'learner-drivers'. Should the discussions surrounding the purchase of 24 new locos break down, then we might still see 1302 in active service. It is thought that 10x 1600's will be taken over from Railion. Of the remaining 15 1300's, 8 have now been moved to Roosendaal in order to make more room available at Tilburg.
Tilburg has now started to place Railion stickers on the 1600's and 6400's owned by Railion. There are two new versions; blue lettering with a red square for the yellow/grey locos and white lettering with a red square for the red locos. These locos will now also carry the new web-site address www.railion.nl. Because they do not wish to take all the locos out of service at once, this 'transformation' will take place over time.
Hard on the heels of the current task to overhaul Plan-T, a green light has been given to provide Plan-V (series 1-3) with the same treatment. Thus giving these units another lease of life, up to seven-half years in fact. June saw timetables at Utrecht CS severely affected due to a side-ways collision between units 456 and 829. This consequently meant that international traffic was re-routed via the 'Kippenlijn' (Chicken-line), with ICE 406012 (en route Koln Hbf - Amsterdam CS) running considerably slower than usual.
The decision has been taken to renovate the fleet of sprinters with the firm Arhus, in Randers, Denmark, part of Bombardier Canada. The contract is still being scrutinised, with the plan to start work in 2003.
It is estimated that 10% of NS's stock is currently out of action. This represents a total length (when lined-up beginning to end) of around 11 km. Apparently, the NS internally accepts a figure of around 5%, and with no improvement this year in sight, matters can only go from the very bad to much worse. To try and combat this worsening state of affairs, the NS has even had to award renovation contracts to foreign firms (see sprinters), and approve design changes to the IRM drive-units.

HSL (high speed line)-Zuid, the build-consortium BAM-NBM, engineering company Fluor Daniel and Siemens, and finance-consortium RAB/ING have signed a contract with the Dutch state to build the HSL-Zuid. The consortium will be responsible for the design, build, finance and maintenance of the track, including the provision of electrics, sound barriers and safety/ communication systems. The route is due for completion in 2005, with a finance period of 25 years. The consortium NS/ KLM will run 96 trains daily over parts of this route, with 6 trains per hour between Amsterdam and Rotterdam in both directions. It is reported this journey will take around 35 mins, 32 trains will continue through to Brussel, of which 16 will travel on to Paris, Den Haag - Brussel will offer 4 trains per hour.
HSL-Oost, it has been decided that the current route Utrecht-Arnhem-German Border does not need to be adapted to a four-track high-speed line. The high-speed trains departing from Amsterdam will use the existing track, instead capacity will be increased by employing longer trains, extending station platforms, adaptation of safety systems and a new 'by-pass' track at station Driebergen-Zeist.

Currently suffering from a large amount of defective rolling stock, NoordNed recently found itself with 37 (out of a fleet of 88) on the sidelines. On top of this, it appears that NedTrain, based in Onnen, is way behind with the maintenance of the Wadlopers, worsened by the lack of necessary spare parts. These factors have led to the decision to replace rolling stock with busses between Winschoten and Nieuweschans. In response, the province of Groningen has threatened to fine the operator. Arriva, one of the partners in NoordNed, then passed the responsibility on to NS, as the NS was the supplier of rolling stock, which in turn made NS, react and temporarily provide NoordNed with six Plan-U's. NoordNed has also said it plans to purchase 48 new units. With an investment of 240m Dfl, the purchase is dependent on NoordNed selling their existing units on the 2nd hand market, which is said to be buoyant.
The Almelo 'soap' continues; due to unit 186 not coming through the safety-check, buses replaced trains but this did however present an opportunity to install ATB-NG. Connexxion also arranged with Syntus to use one of their Lint units - unfortunately they could only provide one unit. Despite these ongoing problems, the province of Overijssel has agreed to extend its contract with Connexxion until 2007, it does however include a clause, stipulating that a minimum of 95% service level is provided at all times.
Apparently relations between these two have hit an all time low, as Syntus - using light rail between Arnhem, Winterswijk and Zutphen - is complaining about the poor condition of the track and the increasing amount of 'interference'. Not only does this mean that Syntus is struggling to run to schedule, but it says its corporate image is starting to suffer too.
ShortLines have recently taken over the container service between Rotterdam and Acht and Blerick from Railion, and anticipate this service will account for 90,000 TUE (twenty feet equivalent unit) containers per year. July saw the first appearance of the red loco 61 (Class 66) in The Netherlands, HGK have acquired two of this class and given them the numbers 61 and 62 respectively. The locos are being used on the ShortLines service between Koln and Rotterdam, via Venlo. The load has however to date been light, with many empty containers, due to Railion taking over the Munchen and Mannheim service.
Railion have also lost the shunting operation at Beverwijk, this is now in the hands of the steel conglomerate Corus. Trains coming via Haarlem are now led by Corus owned locos between Corus and Beverwijk station; Railion now collects trains from the Uitgeest direction from the Corus yards. It appears that the summer timetables introduced had almost gone unnoticed, with only minor changes as opposed to that of NS Reizigers. The most significant changes can be found in the distribution of iron-ore and coal, with iron-ore services now running 5 times daily.

Room for the bicycle; under the motto of 'Ruimte voor de fiets', the NS will start to modernise all of the four hundred bicycle bays. It is estimated that 4/10 passengers travel to/from the station by bike. Because of this number, and the fact that the NS wishes to encourage the use of bicycles, the bays are being upgraded. This means more room, covered areas, lockers, and an increased number of 'secured' bays. The project will continue to be rolled out this year; Soest, Rotterdam, Berkel and Rodenrijs are already complete.
The NS is currently testing new 'service units' at 12 stations. These have been placed at some of the smaller, unmanned stations to provide some level of service and will include ticket-machines, freephone information, travel information and alarm-buttons. Over and above, they will also be installed with CCTV for more safety. The units are currently used by travellers to enquire into timetables and travel advice, the questions are answered by 'a real' person, in 'real time'. If successful, you will start to see these units across the network.
The introduction of the new timetable has as yet not led to an improvement in punctuality. 71% of trains ran on time, compared to 85% before the new timetable was introduced. With a new intake of extra personnel NS is expecting to improve on this soon.
The NS is planning to open 32 sales offices in post-offices located close to small stations and will add another 34 next year.


Infrastructure improvements continue with progress on the catenary in and around the Haarlemmermeer circuit. Furthermore, the new stop at Mozes & Aaron street (line 14 and temporarily line 5) came into use, replacing the one located on de Dam. The board responsible for Amsterdam Old-South has also decided to extend line 16 to the VU Hospital complex. Line 24 will probably not see any extension, as since the introduction of the North-South line, it no longer takes passengers to Centraal Station. Line 6 was not thought feasible enough for extension, but the 'last stop' will be re-routed to coincide with that of line 24 at Stadionweg. Due to line 20's demise in the near future, line 16 will see a major route extension from 2003 onwards; 'circle-tram' line 20 will end in September of next year. The number of passengers using this service is way below expectation. It is also thought the route is not of interest to tourists, and Amsterdammers would rather use lines 16 or 9 to get to the Albert Cuyp (market) or Artis (zoo), as these routes are direct.
As per usual, the number of units in service dropped between end May and September, a period known at the GVB as 'high-summer' service. With improvements to the A10 West motorway, lines 1, 2, 13 and 17 have all had their units increased by one car in order to lessen the effects of anticipated delays.
As with tram routes, ring line 50 will now operate with 3-car units during the improvements to the A10 west. Metro station 'Ferdinand Bolstraat' has seen its build-costs increase by 22m Dfl. The cause of this is that the entrances to the station will now be incorporated in existing buildings, and the purchase of these, together with 'damage payments' are coming in above estimates. The money will partly be found from next year's funds.
Work has started at Erasmusweg in preparation for the extension of line 9 to Wateringse Veld. Line 10 - between Rijswijkseplein and Laakkade is also seeing alterations, including its track being lowered beneath the railway viaduct. Line 10 will therefore still continue to route via station HS. With renovation work to both the Hoornbrug and Reineveldbrug, line 1 has been temporarily suspended and partially replaced by buses, which connect Rijswijk to line 17. This has also enabled the HTM to carry out improvements ahead of schedule, including the new connection for the future line 15 with Hoornbrug, and the replacement of track at Delftweg.
Minister Netelenbosch has guaranteed 77m Dfl to complete the TramPlus line to IJsselmonde. This funding also means that the existing Stadionline can be extended through to the Groene Tuin (on the line previously used by line 12) the work is set to be completed by 2005. IJsselmonde will also see a new shopping centre built, with an integrated tram/ bus station. A further 128m Dfl. will be provided for the building of the Carnisselandeline, assuming a route along the 'Groene Hilledijk'.


B1220; this steam loco has now officially been taken into service, the same as the 1289, it is kitted-out with a grey boiler and cab, the tender is black/ red. The newly acquired 8826 can now also be sponsored by 'the kilo', sponsors receiving a certificate. Substantial funds are required for this project, as it is already known that the boiler has to be replaced. DE-II 179; a start has finally been made on the restoration of this unit, with a great deal of progress. Its colour has however not yet been decided.


By Peter van der Mark
Editors note, when Peter sent me the article below he wrote ‘Couldn’t help it, things are moving fast in Holland and I had a number of what I thought newsworthy items ready so I wrote them down’. I’m glad you did, and if you feel you ‘can’t help it’ again, feel free to send the results to me.
NS Management admits shoddy handling of recent strike crises. After the problems between management and on-train staff were resolved when NS-management publicly admitted that their handling of the various items of discontent amongst staff before, and during the crisis, was fairly appalling and that excuses to staff and the public were rightfully due. A new wind appears to be blowing through the musty corridors in Utrecht. One of the main bones of contention, the much disliked new train crew rosters designed to make the service reliability more robust, has so far not noticeably proven itself, which makes the recent period of misery for the customer even more of a questionable event. A fair number of cuts have now been made in the weekend services of the new winter timetable to improve service reliability and get more trainsets available for servicing to combat rolling stock unreliability and to give more staff a chance to take time off.

The drive to find the badly needed extra 459 drivers and 300 fitters continues, but competition for front-end staff on the labour market increasingly gets a European edge. NS, in competition with equally staff-strapped Swiss railways, is now trying to woo redundant German drivers and maintenance staff to the Netherlands, while on the other hand the first signs of brassed-off Dutch drivers finding their way to other countries are becoming noticeable. Among other interests such as much more appealing work and more leisure time, the lure of the considerably higher wages versus lower taxes in for instance Britain is deeply appreciated. It is in fact a repeat on a European scale of what happened in Britain after privatisation, when staff could vote with their feet about whom they found the most appealing employer, pushing up wages no end and leaving less well-liked operators with severe shortages of drivers. This still is an ongoing thing, as a matter of fact.

NS sees these increasingly difficult to handle staffing problems looming and they have taken on the services of the Belgian transport expert professor C. Peeters to help them to set up crew rosters which will meet both the transport needs of the operator as well as the work interest and leisure time needs of the crews in order to cut the rampant rate of staff sickness and make the job reasonably attractive again. It is better remuneration, which is going to be the main attracting force since the traditional rail staff attachment to their jobs has been squandered, and the operators are now faced with dealing with foreign staff on an international labour market who have no particular attachment to anything but their wallet. The Euro allows instant comparison between the benefits of the various working environments and the quality of the paycheck determines the quality of the staff at work. The European unification has had unforeseen effects in unforeseen places.

Dutch government proposes to take action to get more control over NS again. The enthusiasm among a majority of the Dutch MP's for the commercialisation of the national rail passenger operator has worn so thin that stressed transport minister Tineke Netelenbosch saw an opportunity to appear to be doing something by proposing to investigate turning back the commercial and operational freedom of NS. This is in order to have more clout should NS continue to habitually disregard national transport policies whilst still failing the electorate in the way it has on a number of occasions in the past years. While certainly not all MP's agree with her actions (notably the tax-shy right wing, who probably never use a train in the first place and who fear seeing a ‘black hole’ of public transport funding opening up in the budget again) she has, nevertheless, a fair bit of support. At the same time, following parallel findings in Britain and Japan concerning operational quality, she proposes to reintegrate operations, traffic control and infrastructure management to boost reliability. Only very few (again, mostly those on the deeper conservative side) still believe that true on-track competition will ever take off in any big way, even after the Lovers Rail fiasco, but the benefits of vertical re-integration appear enticing in the light of recent experiences and findings at home and abroad, notably in Britain. The passenger interest groups and unions reacted with delighted surprise, but the business world, despite its slaughtering of NS service delivery in publications, showed the expected, yet not forcefully worded reservations, mentioning benefits of competition etc.

In the meantime the contracts for 15 years of High Speed Line operations comprising 96 services per day have been signed, as expected, between the government and the NS/ KLM/ National Express combine, keeping everything on the high speed front nicely in one hand as well. This does guarantee the ongoing integration of all the offered rail services in The Netherlands and has therefore distinct customer benefits, while it avoids the pointless and potentially damaging InterCity competition on this very small network. The National Express bit could probably do something about future better rail connections from Britain to The Netherlands (fast London to Antwerpen and beyond, bypassing Ashford, Lille and Brussel for instance!), possibly with combined mail, parcels and passenger trainsets along the lines of the Overnight Express in its original form.

The background of what is written above. This article will try to give an answer to the question: Why is it that NS, once one of the paragons of rail convenience in Europe, has become a second rate rail operator? What are the parameters with which to decide what constitutes a second rate rail operator? To mention but one, some of the British InterCity and the Dutch operator are doing rather well financially! The railways in Switzerland, momentarily the bee's knees as far as passenger satisfaction is concerned, do a fair lot worse on this score and the French and German railways, revered by the British press for their comfort and high speed, are a financial fiasco in comparison.

The railways in Britain as well as those in The Netherlands have in common that it was the financial argument which carried weight in government decisions about their future. Possible benefits for their customers would be derived from the market-led operations but were not statutory in the privatisation cum commercialisation process. That is why there are a number of strange similarities between them, such as the fact that the customer in neither case really had any advantage from the proceedings and the fact that technically speaking both operations are on a backward slide as characterised by their increased unreliability.

When the railways in The Netherlands were commercialised the directions as far as NS was concerned were to prepare itself for full privatisation, which required proven maximum profitability on investment for whoever bought shares. Whatever can be said about NS, this and nothing else has been the driving force behind company policies. The state is as yet the sole shareholder in the company and as such is prevented from interfering with the daily operations or the formulating of long term operational goals. Only when financial goals are not being met in a disastrous way can some form of adjustment take place. This sole shareholder-ship situation therefore prevented the state, in its guise as regulator and transport policymaker, from exercising any effective regulatory function at the behest of the hassled customer, which would have interfered with the business strategy, and earning power of NS.

This is the little understood reason why no moves could be made by the state, despite its ownership of NS, to break the deadlock during the last series of unrest amongst staff. As angry customers start to put pressure on the Members of Parliament and Ministry by threatening to change votes during the next elections, there are fears for jobs, hence the moves to turn back the commercial freedom by Minister Netelenbosch. Whether she will achieve anything worthwhile is highly questionable, as the change needed is fundamental and might clash with political right wing ambitions, with NS, as well as European guidelines and law. Whilst NS lacks the regulatory influences to keep it on the straight and narrow as a passenger friendly operator, the demise of Lovers Rail -much of it of its own making- has put all serious competition in the freezer, so there also is no competitive power to make NS behave itself. The freedom of NS to do as it finds necessary to maximise earnings is quite unbelievable when looking at the situation in Britain and is a serious indictment of ministerial and parliamentary knowledge and alertness during the commercialisation process. Despite the Swedish and British examples many sides of this process did not get the attention which was required.

NS has 195,000 seats, which according to contract, no more than 25,000 may be out of service for maintenance or failure per day. At the moment the amount standing around runs at about 40,000 per day and is not really improving. The wheeling and dealing in real estate around railway property became a major way to raise funds, in Britain as well as in The Netherlands organisations are now trying to prevent this, in Britain for railway development purposes, in The Netherlands because the state is waking up to the fact that they are missing out on substantial tax revenue.

Most of all this was the bell which woke up the Members of Parliament to the reality that next to having given away all powers to instil even a vestige of a transport policy on the main passenger rail operator, as was promised to the electorate in various election manifesto's, they had no clue as to the staggering wealth they had rather unwittingly bequeathed to NS. They made it the biggest owner of real estate in the most exquisite locations in the country, who never paid a penny to acquire it, without seeing much of that cash flowing back into better services, if anything it was quite the contrary. It finally made them question whether the fines they imposed to sooth public outcry had any measurable effect at all in such an environment.

EWS - ACTS Class 58 contract still not ratified but "progress is being made". In the Dutch as well as the British rail press little notes keep popping up about the ten class 58 Co-Co' Diesel Electrics which ACTS would like to hire from EWS. The story behind it so far, if I understand a number of people and publications rightly, is that EWS would like to do more with momentarily redundant traction in the way of the hire of the class 37's to France, Spain and Italy. ACTS from its side needs capable, reliable and flexible traction as the class 1200 Co-Co’s lack brute pulling power, are showing their age a mite too often and are tied to the 1.5 kV wires which leads to problems when diversions and future foreign (German, Belgian) expeditions are on the cards.

The last thing one could say about class 58, however, is that they are reliable to the extent that ACTS is going to love them to bits. Also, the number of alterations that will have to be made to these locos makes me wonder whether the hire is going to be that cost effective. New headlight clusters will probably not break the bank but the required fitting of Dutch ATB-L (EG, NG and ETCS compatibility) is going to be very costly, both in the acquisition and fitting of hardware as well as the tweaking time needed to make it work, to which must be added the time and cost needed for Dutch certification, followed by the not inconsiderable effort required to keep them going reasonably satisfactorily. After this the locos will be around for only ten years or so and then go back to Britain? Come on!

Of course, it could be that EWS International has cunning plans to set up Dutch open access activities with ACTS or so. In which case classes 59 and 66 with their Dutch and German certification, and of which the interface with ATB as well as Indusi is known and tested would have been the very obvious choice. Then there is the fact that various manufacturers now offer reconditioned as well as new traction with German and Dutch certification for juicy prices in power by the hour, lease and purchase deals. Fitting and tweaking of Indusi and ATB on these machines is far easier than in older un-rebuilt traction like class 58 due to the fact that new and reconditioned traction is delivered with train control systems compatibility as part of the specification. Look at the relative ease with which various types of Vossloh builds (including Railion 6400 and Belgian 77) get equipped with a multitude of such train protection systems.

The deal however becomes well nigh absurd when realising that EWS is fairly soon going to be about 20 to 25 traction units short for existing obligations when the second phase of the CTRL with its tunnels kicks in. Together with Freightliner, EWS has dedicated class 66 for this job, as only that type is admissible due to noise and exhaust regulations. This shortfall is going to be relieved by reinstating members of the ageing and even less reliable class 56, which otherwise proves valuable through stripping out and selling their main alternators and rectifying kit for class 47 to 57 conversions.

Pacers or no Pacers in The Netherlands. In the meantime, the use of two class 140 Pacer units from off-lease stock to relieve the troubled last operational DE2 set from duty on the Marienberg line appeared to be off, because the narrowness of the bodies in relation to the platforms in The Netherlands posed a safety hazard and precluded permission to use them in passenger service. Nevertheless, RAIL and later other British magazines published articles that RailNed had in fact accepted the trains for strictly limited services and they would be shipped sometime between August and October.

New loco struggle heats up for NS. It has been mentioned before in Nieuwsbrief that NS (formerly NS-R) is looking for new traction now that class 1300 has finally been ditched as a means of working passenger trains in The Netherlands under the new order with its fast push-pull operations. It has also been mentioned that really what NS wants is for Railion (formerly NS-C) to give up their class 1600's to NS and that they then get the new locos they would really like to have, DE or E-Multi-voltage. This way NS can start using the additional locos the day they can lay their hands on them, without having to retrain drivers and having to fit ATB. By the time these locos wear out, from 2015 onwards, the same will have happened with the available ICR and ICK coaches and a wholesale replacement of 1980's rolling stock can take place with more double deck EMU's, for which the little kingdom is after all the most ideal sporting ground. Railion from its side has started to remove the NS identity stickers and apply its name on the 1600's, complete with its website. Further repaints to red are still not mooted.

In September the NS advert for 24 units of new traction appeared in the relevant media and strangely enough Railion is one of the possible contestants to sell traction. I am really curious whether NS itself will take on all the new traction, and what it is going to be. Single cab power car machinery such as the class 91 in Britain, push-pull operated with whatever unpowered stock happens to be around? That is tantamount to another change of rolling stock policy!

In the meantime the first batch of ex-German ICK coaches is now making its presence felt and the ICR conversion saga also appears to have resulted in some upgraded coaches appearing. The initial idea to use the reconditioned solid state alternators from the ICR to re-equip the ICK has been abandoned as the pace at which this kit becomes available is too slow and would hinder the delivery of the ICK coaches, which is now running as planned, which is more than can be said about the ICR upgrade.

SPAD worries on NS as well. Just to show that SPAD's are nothing that is specific to the railways in Britain; on a yearly basis about 280 SPAD's are recorded on the railways in The Netherlands and the number of incidents is increasing. The majority is being caused by overlooking position light signals or through wrong assessment of braking power and braking distance, which tallies with the British experience. Readers who still have previous issues of Nieuwsbrief might remember that the older generation ATP in The Netherlands does not actually stop a train from travelling through a red light, but will restrict that train to 40 kph, which obviously limits the possible damage following an eventual collision. Now there is a political drive to install new generation ATP all over the network.

This is in fact a bit of an expensive folly as ETCS is about to make its presence felt in The Netherlands and this will have the desired ATP features, complete with automatic train stop on red, just another bit of proof that politicians and Quango bosses have a tendency to talk before having decently informed themselves. The drivers, incidentally, blame the increased monotony of their job as one of the main reasons for the increasing amount of SPAD's.

Betuwe Freight Line formation nears its completion, problems near Zevenaar. The formation of the Betuwe Freight route can now be traced all the way from Rotterdam to the German border, and the work on the various engineering bits is progressing very well. The works ran into a certain amount of trouble near Zevenaar though, when ground water leaked into the long local tunnel in substantial quantities. Forceful pumping (the Dutch know a thing or two about that) to keep the works dry quickly lowered the local ground water table to such an extent that houses in a nearby estate came near to collapse. Not unexpectedly it caused an outcry and the anti-Betuwe line lobby had a very good couple of weeks out of it.

A problem with the line, which, however, has still not been resolved, is the choice of traction current. The classical Dutch 1.5 kV DC has been unanimously ruled out, but the initial replacement with 25 kV 50 Hz AC does not appear as logical anymore as it did up to now. The stark reality is that virtually all traffic will go to or come from Germany and that a German/Dutch operator is the lead user. It is virtually a German stand-alone railway line within The Netherlands. So why would one want to install a 50 Hz power system when German locos use the 15 kV 16.7 Hz AC system at home? More to the point, why even install Dutch signalling when German signalling will allow German standard locos to complete the trip to Rotterdam from wherever they happen to come from, such as say the Italian border with Austria or Switzerland, instead of having to employ expensive multi voltage/ multi signalling machines from somewhere halfway as is the case under the present plans. Keeping it cheap will only help to make the line (and with that Rotterdam) commercially more attractive. Stay tuned on this one, as it might actually change a few ideas on re-electrification in The Netherlands quite fundamentally!
The sight of the diggers within reach of the border must have woken the Germans up to the reality that quite soon there will be long trains storming towards their yards and stations and as yet absolutely nothing has been done about dispersing them. The Bundesland of Nordrhein-Westfahlen, through its Minister of Economy, Energy and Traffic Mr. E. Schwanhold, got a bit nervous about this prospect of stacks of freight trains everywhere and of failing in the eyes of the rest of the world (a sometimes useful German characteristic, that) and made it known in a meeting in Arnhem that he is now putting pressure on the central government in Berlin to allocate funds for the line in Germany. He also said that probably this is a very regional thing to work out, there is no need to overly involve the state in it. Mr. Schwanhold pleased them in Arnhem very much by expressing his doubt and his displeasure with having the ICE-M's run at only 140 kph (85 mph) between Utrecht and Arnhem after the Dutch government ruled out extending the HSL East all the way to Arnhem, a very sore point in the area indeed.

Light rail ideas take further shape, but are they well considered? Between Gouda and Alphen a/d Rijn the local plans centre on a low floor tram as used around Stockholm in Sweden. The background is that at a later stage "the light rail" might run in normal street traffic -presumably as a tram- as well. The upshot is, however, that the platforms along the line will have to be lowered to 40 cm above rail head and that all planned future extensions along existing rail lines, whether dedicated solely to tram traffic or not, will require the same thing. This would make diversions of and return to full size rail operations difficult and costly. How this sort of low floor stock is in fact expected to work along the planned Utrecht CS to Leiden corridor (large stations worked by both systems at each end) is not clear. If, on the other hand, the new service could be hooked up to the present Sneltram operation to Nieuwegein to get to Utrecht CS, which appears logical to me and was already talked about years ago, it would be out of sync again with the standard high floor trams running there now.

Low floor operation only has a decent advantage over standard vehicle operation when at least 50 per cent of traffic takes place in fairly slowly worked inner-city street running environments, where a higher top speed doesn't matter as much as good acceleration, and where dedicated platforms take up too much space. This, however, is not the case in the Gouda- Leiden and West of Utrecht triangle. The big disadvantages of true low floor stock are that the intricate construction and involved maintenance of such vehicles makes them more expensive to purchase and operate than standard vehicles of comparable capacity, and a high top speed is a necessary ingredient of the whole Rijn-Gouwe light rail concept if some commercial viability is one of the aims. The standard sneltram vehicles have under floor space for the sort of bogies that make running at 120 kph (75 mph) possible.

Furthermore, with regards to full low floor operations, a new generation of traffic expert is presently finding out that the safety of customers at tram stops, especially on those located near the centre line of streets used by road traffic as well, is better served by higher platforms with sturdy fencing. Car drivers rather publicly damage their prized possessions as well as their ego's if they inadvertently smash into them, which keeps excessively stupid road behaviour reasonably in check, while the occupants of the tram stop at the time of an accident usually escape unhurt. If the powers that be are still hell-bent on low floor, then of course there is the example of the similar two-level situation in Amsterdam toward Amstelveen (street tram and sneltram stock on lines 5 and 55). Here the problem has been reasonably satisfactorily solved with double length/ dual height platforms, but why one would build in this sort of expensive inconvenience right from the start is unclear if a better solution by dropping the idea of low floor trams is possible, in any case, RailNed appears less than enthralled.

As a positive contrast the much more realistic plans to start sneltram operations along the present rail route between Haarlem and Zandvoort, with logically planned diversions and extensions into the inhabited area's at both ends are progressing. That line lost its main public interest when the services from Maastricht were terminated in Haarlem. The replacement train service never really answered the travel needs of the non-local summer beach crowds due to the now necessary change of trains in Haarlem, while the station at Zandvoort on the other hand was always rather far away from where the interesting bits of beach life took place. Quite a slog on a hot summer's day indeed, I recall.

These plans have the classic and proven Siemens Stadtbahn B80 metro/tram vehicles as a basis and there is nothing low floor about them, even though folding steps are bolt-on options in the case of use in streets. Siemens is currently building 48 of these vehicles for the Turkish city of Bursa and keeping the production line open for a small Dutch add-on order might generate worthwhile savings for the purchaser.

By Ralph Hanley
[Based on “En Lignes” and “Journal du Chemin de Fer”]
The overall picture is of a slow but sure demise of all the series 50 / 60 / 84 diesels, with new diesel motive power and increased electrification. Withdrawals to date are: 5148, 5130, 6233, 7102, and 7103.
1503 of series 15 has been hauling the new track and catenary inspection vehicle, a luggage break on M2 carriages were included to provide sufficient breaking at high speeds. The remainder are now on limited freight duties between Liege and Gouvy.
Series 16, 1608 has been repainted in golden livery by Marklin, and is currently operating on the Oostende to Koln service.
Series 20 are now all relegated to Freight duties, and replacing the series 51 on the freight from Antwerp to Germany.
The series 21 damaged in the March collision at Braine-le-Compte is to be repaired at Salzinnes.
As from early June, series 25 are no longer in regular service. The Italian FSL network is interested in buying four of these engines.
Series 51 numbers are starting to decline, being replaced by the series 77. Charleroi will lose all this series by the year-end; this will then leave the total with less than 20.
The bulk of the series 52, 53 & 54 are now planned to be withdrawn, those remaining will be allocated to TGV works. [Two have replaced 5947 and 5950, scrapped after the accident at Remicourt in January].
Series 62 / 63 autorails are being replaced by the new series 41. Their main duty is a weekday service, Antwerp to Neerpelt.
Poor condition has taken series 70 nos. 7004 and 7005 out of service. Currently 7001 and 7003 are used on the daily Antwerp [Kallo] to Kiel service.
Series 71 & 75 have prematurely been taken out of SNCB service, these have been bought by Italian permanent way companies NERI and MASIA.
Series 77 are beginning to spread across the network from Antwerp North. This series can now and soon [September] will be seen at Charleroi, Kinkempois and Merelbeke.
8209 and 8210 of series 82 have been broken up at Merelbeke, 2002 looks like being a fatal year for this series.
Four remaining series 84 have been allocated to Charleroi for departmental duties.
Tunisia is interested in buying the remaining series 85 for permanent way duties.
The remaining series 91 at Charleroi will probably all be withdrawn by the end of 2001.
22 of the Series 600 have been modernised, and should be in service for some time.
The last 3 Series 129 - 150 [Budd Inox nos. 134, 138 & 143] EMU’s have left Belgium for service in Italy. Currently none are retained for preservation although 106 is on signal network duties and 082 is still with the PFT. The only remaining ones in service are those of the CFL [Luxembourg to Thionville].
Series 41 have suffered from technical problems in their first months of operations. The major problems being the diesel motors, [mainly the injectors & pumps] and door operation. Passengers have complained of the air conditioning being too cold. All this series are planned to be corrected at Schaerbeek.
The first of series 900 [932] was withdrawn, being damaged in the accident at Pecrot.
SNCB have tested the series Z [2100] of the CFL between Ath and Silly with the possibility for service on the SNCB network.
SNCB are evaluating the Alstom Prima electric locomotive with the possibility to purchase for the system. Briefly this is 90 tonnes, 4,200 kW, and can haul a 1,600 tonne train at 70 Kph up a 10 % gradient.
In January Bombardier and SNCB made a “mock up” of the proposed double decker type M6 carriage. These will be manufactured by Valenciennes [chassis], Crespin [bogies] and fitting out by Bombardier [Bruge]. 210 are planned to be made and should be in service between 2002 and 2004. Bombardier has been allowed to purchase the German Adtranz, which now makes Bombardier the largest railway stock manufacturer in the world.

A new high-speed line, 220 Kph, is proposed between Nivelles and Bruxelles mainly alongside the A19 and A54. This will reduce the journey time to 15 minutes.
The new station at Zeebrugge Bad, Line 51A, is now opened weekends only for seaside traffic. The platform length, [12 coaches], would seem optimistic for the 2 set Class 66’s which operate this service.
As part of the quadrupling of the tracks between Bruxelles and Leuven, the station at Kortenberg, [Line 36], has been demolished and replaced by a temporary structure.
Line 10 Zwijndrecht to Kallo is being doubled and electrified. Work, which includes a new tunnel under the Schelde, is scheduled to be completed by 2003.
Line 108 between La Louviere to Binche is planned to be reduced to a single track. This will include refurbishing Binche station and a new parking area. Timetables are unlikely to be affected.
The longest CFL service, the summer Sundays Luxembourg to Blankenberge has resumed for 2001. This is now hauled by CFL type 3000, a “bargain” trip at 950 LUF return].
The Tram museum in Antwerp has been opened. This is in the earlier “Tram shed” in Dikmuidelaan 42, located on Bus Lijn 16 between Berchem station and Antwerp Airport. The museum, Tel: is open weekends in April to October and holidays between 14:00 to 17:30. Entrance fee is 100 Bfr. In addition to over 20 trams from Antwerp and Gent, there are 20 Buses and Trolley Buses.

In addition to the Pecrot collision in March, another collision took place at Braine-le-Compte [line 96] on 22 March. This time a coupling fractured on a freight train leaving 4 wagons behind and unbraked. These apparently unobserved, rolled down gradient over a reset point to collide with a coke train. The engine 2121 was derailed, but fortunately the driver was only slightly injured. The engine has since been repaired.
The PTT have commemorated 75 years of SNCB with 4 telecards [500 Bfr] showing Type 1 Pacific, Class 77, Class 1300 and the earlier Class 101 and 3 stamps [17 Bfr] showing Type 12 streamlined Pacific, Class 66 EMU and “Break” 328.

En Lignes 46
Along the Vestre in the summer of 1962, final part; The TGV Mediterranie construction; Last mechanical signals on the SNCB; Reopening of SNCB line 147; The early Cockerill-Sambre mineral wagons, now all being withdrawn; PFT Rail Trip to Morocco October 2000, final part.
Journal du Chemin de Fer 122
75 years of the SNCB; The future of SNCB diesels; The end of series 84; Steam engines type 96 of the SNCB; The large projects of the Vennbahn.

By Mike Denman
This article has been moved to the modelling pages - click here

By Ralph Hanley
Luxembourg is a small country which most people drive through and fill up with cheap fuel. For several years we have holidayed in Luxembourg in a small village close to Echternach, now devoid of any rail link. This year we bought a “Billet Reseau” for 180 LUF, [approx. £2.80]. This entitles one to unlimited travel for one day on the CFL network, [both by bus and rail].

Our first stage was the bus from the village to Luxembourg station, a journey of 33 km. Luxembourg station has a varied display of rolling stock and motive power, with representatives from the SNCB, SNCF, NS, DB, CFF and CFL systems. In addition there is the Model Shop in Rue de Bonnevoie just 5 minutes walk on the other side of the station. The outward journey was to Troisvierges, just on the northern border, on the Luxembourg to Liege service. This was with SNCB IC orange coaches hauled by CFL class 3100. For the tolerant wives it is a very scenic trip from Ettlebruck to Troisvierges through a valley alongside the rivers Clerve and Wiltz. Troisvierges station is quite modern, but probably a good 10 minutes walk from the village. This we anticipated by buying a picnic at Luxembourg station.

The return journey was with identical stock and motive power. Whilst waiting at Troisvierges, the “local” from Luxembourg arrived with CFL green and cream coaches again hauled by CFL class 3100. At Ettlebruck we passed the Wiltz service consisting of a single new “Bullet” type EMU. There was no sign of any Class 3600 BB electric engines on the network. Although several were observed in the sheds on a previous trip whilst leaving Luxembourg. Class 250 / 260 Budd Inox emus are still being used on the “local” services to Thionville.

From Luxembourg we had 2 choices to Wasserbillig, either by DB IC stock, or local CFL Class 2000 EMU. We chose the latter, although “all stations”, these were very comfortable and arrived just ahead of the DB direct train. This allowed the arrival of the DB to be witnessed, in addition another arrival from Trier of DB red and white EMU. The connecting bus to Echternach arrived on time and connected with the bus back to the village. Our experience was that the CFL runs “on time”, both buses and trains, so there is no need to take “one service ahead”. Buses and trains all connect with each other, the average connection time being 5 to 8 minutes.

It would seem that the CFL rail system is ambidextrous, that is trains run on the left in from Arlon, on the right to Thionville and Wasserbillig. Going to Troisvierges we alternated between left and right, although from Troisvierges on to Liege it reverted to the left. In all it was a very inexpensive day out.

Translated from an article in Rail Magazine, June 2001.
By Paul Stoddart-van der Maaden
Should you therefore still wish to visit the museum in its current layout, then be quick; you have until May 2002. The museum will be closed for two years and undergo a dramatic redesign, requiring an investment of around 70m Dfl. It was notified in the press as follows …" An important decision was taken on the 19th May: The NS is to invest 70m Dfl to retain the past of the NS, and therefore the future of the Netherlands Railway museum. The museum can now guarantee a continued existence of the existing collection ".

In its current design, the museum displays its collection protected only by platform roofing, which the NS had built in the 70's. These offer little protection the to weathers' changing seasons. The new funding provides the opportunity to maintain and display the collection in a specially designed in-door environment. Moreover, the new design will also provide the latest in multi-media presentation facilities, presenting the railways in an up-to-date modern manner. With these changes, the museum is looking to place itself at the forefront of railway museums in Europe, indeed create a museum with "international allure". The priority is to replace the current 'open-air' displays with an all-encompassing in-door facility. The responsibility for this new design falls with Nienke van de Lune of architects Holland Rail consult. Not only must it be impressive, but also adhere to all the demands of modern climate control and be environment friendly.

The redesign will also incorporate the past. The museum, which is housed in the former Maliebaan station, will be renovated to its original splendour as it was in 1874 - and thus be unique in railway architecture, as there is no single station in The Netherlands that has been kept in its original design. A new building is also to be built, housed on the existing complex, which will display five different aspects of our 'world of railways' in a "natural setting, giving you the feeling that you're on a film-set". Including the existing collection, these worlds will be centred on themes such as 'Black Magic' (Steam era), 'La Belle Époque' (long journeys, comfort & luxury) and of course the development of the railways from the devastating war years through to the 21st century. The centrepiece and most impressive part of the new design will be an authentic turntable.

Another major change is that the museum will no longer house its 'active' rolling stock. They will find their new home with HTMU, as a direct connection with the network to/from the museum cannot be maintained with the new design. There will be a 'small train' (how small is small?) running through the display areas, which are hoped to attract around 250,000 visitors per annum.
The 'farewell' party for the current museum will coincide with the 3-day steam event in April of next year. The museum has also promised to move its 'active' rolling stock (to the HTMU depot) during this event, making it a date not to be missed! All other displays will temporarily move to the Amersfoort works.


By Ralph Hanley
Train Minature 12, and Journal du Chemin de Fer 122
For those with an industrial layout, Preiser have issued a set of 7 striking work persons.
Brekina in conjunction with Modelbouwcentrum, West Vlaarderen, Brugge, have a limited [500] edition of the SNCB autobus époques III to IV in green from the period 1965 to 1970. Price, including postage, is £17. Modelbouwcentrum also have a series of typical Belgian facades for buildings.
Rietz have released an autocar “De Lijn” Mercedes 0.350. Catalogue no. 61287. In addition for “swift deliveries” there is a VW Sharan in DHL livery, and to patrol ones network, a Ford Galaxy “Politie Genk”, catalogue no. 50.742
LS Models have produced an SNCB “Memling” I10 second class coach and Bistro. In addition LS Models have “Eurofima” coaches for second and first class. These apparently have greater spacing between coaches than compared with the earlier Fleischmann issue.
In addition there is a test report on the Jocadis series 51, which has a high rating, but also high price at 18,000 Bfr.
In depth article on an Ardennes layout, which should be worth seeing at an exhibition.
Details on making a station halt type building.
Modifying existing Lima and OsKar SNCB coaches.
Two new steam locomotive models have been produced by Werps Modelbouw, these are 0-6-0 tank “Époque II” for “Chemin de Fer Belges” built in 1855 by Wilson of Leeds, Ref. L02G, and price is 15,200 Bfr. The other is a 2-4-2 built for the Dutch NRS in 1880 by Sharp Stewart, Ref. L01G, and price is 22,000 Bfr.
Minitrix have issued 3 SNCB “Wagons-Tremies” type Fals. Two are in the new “B Cargo” livery, the other dark brown of the CFL Ref. 15120. In addition two containers “TTS” and “Ewals Cargo” are available, Ref. 15117.
Marklin Mini Club have a modern, scale Z, set of 4 SNCB “B Cargo” wagons Ref. 86354.
Manufacturers Lima are planning to close both the Jouef and Arnold factories, however there has been a reaction from the French unions which may halt some closures. Apparently the moulds from both these factories would be relocated for manufacture in China. [Based on my experience with the Chinese made Hornby SR Merchant Navy class there should be no quality concerns.]
Roco currently produce one main catalogue, which contains items available from all dealers throughout the year and is supplemented by “mini catalogues” containing local items for specific countries with the items only being available from dealers in those countries. Now Roco are planning one main catalogue supplemented with a brochure entitled “The International Collection”, which will list all planned special items for specific countries. These will now be available from all participating International Collection dealers on a pre-ordered basis. In addition Roco plan to reduce their range of DB items and increase their range for other countries.

By David Halsall
Trix HO 22545 NS Cargo Class 6400 MaK Bo-Bo 6513 in red NS-C livery
Trix HO 22722 NS Class 6400 MaK Bo-Bo 6503 in yellow grey NS livery

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