|l||Nieuwsbrief Issue 40 - March 2002|
DUTCH RAILWAY NEWS
By Peter van der Mark
NEW SHUNTING LOCOS ON ORDER
NS-Reizigers has asked manufacturers to tender for the supply of twelve new shunting locos. This might not necessarily mean locomotives in the classical sense of the word, as NS -and Railion too- think about replacement of the old English Electric 350 Hp shunting locos with those new UCA or UniLok road/rail vehicles which industrial operators favour so much. Indeed, operationally speaking there is a lot to be said for them, such as being able to park quite a number within the protection of a relatively small shed without tracks, or reach the various shunting locations along roads without having to deal with long waits for slots in between the dense passenger train traffic. Even within a yard work might go faster by just using the road facility between the various tracks instead of moving all the way to the end of the track bundle and coming back in on the new road from there.
LENGTHENED SIX-COACH DD-IRM UNITS
To the surprise of many the first six coach IRM unit made its appearance on the 12th of November. The pantographs have been removed from the normal motor coaches and have been concentrated on the power coach which eventually will be able to work off 1.5 kV DC and 25 kV 50 Hz AC to distribute traction and hotel power throughout the train. The number of the test set is 8401 while the second lengthened set came in December as set 8478. Revenue earning operation is foreseen from May 2002. Eventually the six-car IRM will be numbered in the 8600 series.
ARTISTS IMPRESSION OF REFURBISHED SPRINTERS PUBLISHED
The sprinters will look distinctly different from their present appearance when they come back after their refurb in Randers, Denmark. The only -rather orangey - yellow bits left will be the doors and a band along the underside of the body. The main colour of the body, however, will be light grey, while the roofline from the cantrail upwards as well as the noses will be dark blue in the IRM, DM/SM '90 and refurb Wadloper way. Another change to the present configuration will be that the centre trailer will have three door sets each side and that the audibly clicking resistance contactors in the driving motor coaches will have given way to the high pitched hum of IGBT DC chopper electronics.
Refurbished Plan U
The first refurbished plan U DEMU was delivered on the 25th of October by NedTrain Tilburg to NS. After testing the first sets are foreseen to enter service in April 2002 between Apeldoorn and Zutphen and Zwolle and Kampen. This will allow the Wadloper DHMU sets to once more retreat to the North of the country under the NoordNed banner. About Wadloper sets, two have been seen in Limburg to test a device which is standard issue under similar DHMU sets in this country and is known here as Track Circuit Actuators or TCA, but the name used in The Netherlands is Track Circuit Shunt Assistant or TCSA. The visible part is a steel tube loop fitted under the bogie frame between the wheels of the front bogies and it works by inductively reinforcing the track circuit current as it makes its way through the wheels and axles to short circuit the track circuit. This makes the operation of track circuit based signalling much more certain in conditions of badly contaminated track. Installing this system would, when successful, render further installation of axle counters for detection as well as the more expensive installation of ATB-NG instead of ATB-EG needless and thus saves serious lots of money prior to having to start again with installing ETCS.
In the meantime the huge number of Wadloper DHMU sets standing OOU awaiting repair has been successfully brought back to acceptable levels after the concerted effort of NedTrain in Onnen and Tilburg. At the same time, however, the number of travellers on the lines they serve is steadily increasing so the net effect is still misery. The province of Groningen, however, otherwise only too happy to slam operator NoordNed with fines, is prevaricating about backing the financing of badly needed new rolling stock now that the financial implications of being in charge of a rail network are becoming more clear. This prevents NoordNed from getting decisive about ordering new stock.
PLAN W ON WAY OUT, ICK AND REFURBISHED ICR ON WAY IN
18 plan W will be shunted into the sidings to be cannibalised to keep the other 22 going. In 2002 these coaches from 1960 are expected to be out of service altogether. The ex-DB ICK coaches are now being delivered in a steady flow by PFA Weiden and are coming on stream in noticeable quantities. They will -against expectations- take over the Randstad to Southern Limburg services, cascading un-refurbished ICR to the IJssel route. Refurb ICR is still quite rare but the signs are that speeding up is possible. 25 ICR’s are standing around in Haarlem as cannibalising stock to keep the still working individuals going, but this stock will change all the time as the cannibalised vehicles will be taken in for stripping prior to refurbishment.
RAILION LOOKING FOR NEW TRACTION FOR ZEEUWS-VLAANDEREN
As it is probably well known by the readers of Nieuwsbrief, Railion still operates an island outfit in the Dutch bit of Zeeuws Vlaanderen between Terneuzen and Sas van Gent at the Belgian border. All the traction at this moment is still classic NS kit but that is to change soon. Next to EE shunter 686 for work on the Cerestar premises there are seven class 2200 Bo-Bo' DE locos (parts spenders 2210 and 2204, working locos 2203, 2207, 2212, 2376 and the red 2384) which are all on the hit list for earliest renewal and in fact they are slated to be replaced by "something" in the coming summer. Incidentally, another loco type that will disappear soon in this neck of the woods are the big Belgian class 52 DE Co-Co’s, also with a vague Baldwin Philadelphia ancestry as are the NS 2200's. Last year there were stories that ex-DR class 202/204 centre cab B-B' DH's were to replace these locos but there was some sort of trouble with German powers that be about this and it fell through. The use of the standard class 6400 is not foreseen, as the numbers of these are short as things are while they also are too powerful and expensive for the jobs on hand, with a maximum speed of 30 kph over very short distances on working days only. Early in 2002 the EE shunter will be replaced by what is called a loco tractor with road and rail capacity of Belgian UCA manufacture (based in nearby Antwerpen) which can handle trains of up to 1600 tonnes. Shunting loco 686 will then relocate to Terneuzen to assist the ailing 2200's, but most assuredly it won't be for long.
Railion, incidentally, also took over all shunting activities, including two locos and four staff, from Akzo-Nobel in the Delfzijl port area at the far other corner of the little nation. Whether these locos will actually drive the 6400's out of the Delfzijl port area remains to be seen but it is a possibility, as Railion has much better work for those. If Railion is in the market to take over in-house shunting, as a matter of policy elsewhere, as at Akzo-Nobel at Delfzijl and Cerestar at Terneuzen, is not entirely clear as yet. If it is profitable it is curious that ShortLines and ACTS did not jump on the bandwagon with their shunting locos, as the sort of work seems to be rather suited to their capabilities.
RAILION/DB CARGO CLASS 189 ON ITS WAY
At the Siemens plant in Muenchen (ex-Krauss-Maffei) the construction of the first quadri-voltage class 189 Bo-Bo' electrics, based on the already working class 152 dual current locos, has started and roll out of the first machine for DB-Cargo/Railion is foreseen later this year. These locos will play the main part on the Betuwe Freight Line from the Rotterdam port area to Germany and are intended to only come on to the 1.5 kV network when leaving the Betuwe Line within Holland for diversions. Strictly speaking a DB 152 would be able to do the basic job as well, as would the Danish EG's, as the 25 kV wires stretch right into the port area.
In a drive to modernise its wagons and replace four-wheelers wherever possible with bogie types, the well known Ucs/Uces "bollenwagens" powder commodity silo wagons from 1958/62 with their two bulbous silo's are to be scrapped in 2002. Another well-known wagon type on the brink of extinction is the big, boxy Fals-z bogie hopper (1968/70) in all the varieties. Very similar Falns 1000F9 hoppers hired from Belgian Railways will replace them. The first experiences with these new wagons were not very good as they lost considerable quantities of their cargo through the under-edge of the discharge doors. They all received extra strips along the underside of these doors to make them shut better, strange issue with a classic vehicle type like this. The Tals roofed version is experiencing a shortage so some of the above described hoppers might very well reappear as Tads after an overhaul and a rebuild with a moveable roof for loose bulk goods sensitive to climatic interference. Their overhaul licence is for one year only, which indicates that for them the end is nigh as well and that a large batch of replacement vehicles is to be acquired some way or other.
About 450 other classic NS/Railion types are on the hit list as well, including the 61 remaining red four-wheel Hbbikkss "stammer" wagons as used behind the Mp electric motor cars for postal traffic. Go and see them in Amsterdam Westhaven in front of the gates of Hollandia Steel, agreement is being sought with local authorities to scrap the vehicles wherever they are standing now to avoid the cost and hassle of transporting these troublesome scrap vehicles.
One of the demands for the new vehicles, which will replace these older types, will be that they have a secure fitting area for GPS transmitter/receivers. European railfreight vehicles carry a rapidly increasing number of this device, powered by batteries and solar cells, to pinpoint the actual whereabouts of any vehicle to monitor progress for the benefit of the customer and to be able to put blame for hold-ups where it belongs. But at present they are found to be vulnerable to damage through the normal way of life of a freight vehicle as well as theft.
CLASS 66 MAKING INROADS ON THE CONTINENT AS WELL
The General Motors JT42CWR Co-Co' DE locos, better known in Europe as class 66, have been passed as suited for traffic in Belgium as well and GM is hotting up its sales efforts outside Great Britain, where GBRf, incidentally, has just announced that they have taken on five more of these most successful machines which brings the number in Britain alone up to 327, excluding Freightliner operated 66521 destroyed at Great heck. Another 10 landed at Rotterdam in batches of 2, 3 and 3 respectively and they have been taken by ShortLines to Tilburg for continentalisation and fitting of whatever ATP is desired.
Bar the Virgin Pendolino's, which appear to be working all right up to now, so far the delivery of Alstom trains and trams has become a regular nightmare for the various operators, due to the general characteristic of being unreliable and therefore at least a year late in service. Alstom almost had to face the courts for dire complaints from French cities about their Citadis trams, while the British EMU's have been anything less than a complete success, Gatwick Express being the best with just slightly more than a year's delay for fleet service. The Coradia diesel sets, whether in the form of the cancelled Finnish Dm1 railcar order, in France as X 72500, in their Belgian class 41 or British classes 175 and 180 guise, have really been nothing short of a disaster which is now being sorted out by engineers and managers straight from France itself in order to avoid First Great Western doing what the Finns did and dump the Alstom trains and order the up to now very favourably received Bombardier Voyager. In Belgium, however, the introduction of the class 41 sets is finally progressing fairly well and they can be seen mostly throughout the Walloon parts of the nation. Alstom is now making financial arrangements to cover the commercial fallout of these unpleasant results here in Europe, notably in Britain.
ANOTHER FEATURE OF THE BETUWE FREIGHT ROUTE DROPPED
Whilst the construction of the actual route continues apace the corridor where it will operate, bits are being dropped along the way. After the Northern, and then the Southern, branches had been dropped now a giant freight interchange centre between road, rail and water on the North bank of the Waal, slightly West of Nijmegen has quietly vanished from the charts, much to the relief of residents it must be said, in this so far rural area. Dropping this massive freight village the Betuwe Freight line will save NLG 1.3 bn, which can now hopefully be added to the (so far shamefully treated) High Speed Line East from Amsterdam to Arnhem and the German border.
It is still not clear to many that in fact the Betuwe line is a German railway line through The Netherlands for the benefit of the (half German owned) Port of Rotterdam and that every local Dutch adornment is just blinkered, wishful thinking with very little commercial viability and, most inconveniently, it upsets the actual race-them-hither-race-them-thither function of the new line. Having said that, the Germans still haven't shifted a grain of earth in their endeavour to establish this corridor on their side of the border, despite earlier promises to get off their well-proportioned backsides and help the Dutch government out in their struggle to ram the line into the throats of the populace as well as maintaining agreements in the treaty of Warnemuende of 1995. In the end, all they have to do is to put in some extra track from the border via Emmerich to Oberhausen, where dispersal takes place. The main sticking point is an allegedly necessary tunnel or bypass of Emmerich station because of extra traffic due to dropping that Northern branch. DB-Cargo and DB-Netz feel that the problem will be Oberhausen, where they will have to invest in new flyovers to untangle the line from the present lay-out, for the first years the line through Emmerich will be able to deal with the traffic in its present state and needs no amending. On the other side of the coin, all this dropping of features has now sparked a row in Dieren, North of Arnhem along the IJssel river. As the North branch of the freight line has been dropped they too expected a railway tunnel under their sleepy little abode, as one extra freight an hour would be rumbling past, on top of the present two fasts and two slows each way an hour between Arnhem and Zutphen, not counting the odd freight as is now, but now their tunnel has been dropped as well, the kitty is absolutely empty! And so, get out those pitchforks.
Voltage on the Betuwe Route will now after all be Euro-standard 25 kV 50 Hz as the new class 189 electric locos for the Railion/DB Cargo network feature this voltage anyway. Since the Danish Rail Cargo company amalgamated with the combine this voltage became part of their network, and moreover go anywhere electrics are the future after the ATP thing has been settled with ERTMS. So, next year the powerful dual voltage Siemens built Danish EG Co-Co’s will continue to Hamburg, possibly all the way from Sweden, while the German classes 182 and 185 Bo-Bo' locos will go through to Copenhagen from wherever they come from, it might be from Italy along the Brenner line. The picture of a Dutch registered 189 rolling all the way to Copenhagen from Rotterdam is looming. As an aside, the replacement for the ten Railion class 1600 B-B' electrics which went to NS Reizigers will be at least ten DB class 232 (true-blue Ludmilla's, not the re-engined class 241!) with Dutch as well as German ATP equipment. So this will make the big Russians an even more common sight in The Netherlands, until the appearance of the class 189 Bo-Bo' electrics.
HIGH-SPEED LINE EAST KEEPS THE TEMPERS HOT
Right at this moment the high-speed line East services are probably worked with the fastest and most modern trains on the tracks of The Netherlands, the Siemens ICE-M sets. Yet, they are habitually late and do not travel any faster than the present fastest trains along their routes which any other passenger train is doing, 140 kph or 85 mph. The delays run into magnitudes of say 3:20 hours on a 2:30 hour trip as on Thursday 16 August 2001. Part of the delay problem, incidentally, appears to be that as in Great Britain this type of train has no real Express status any more, delays are even- handedly shared regardless of what time passengers got on a train before it ran into the traffic problems, or how far they still have to go. A bit of a joke, really, made worse by the fact that there isn't the least little bit of political will in Den Haag to do anything serious about any kind of badly needed physical upgrade of the line at all on cost grounds. And there is probably a sense that this way they have some sort of vestigial control left over the railway and use it for negotiations or so. But why then even think about mentioning the line, as an HSL any longer, or building all sorts of infrastructure for the line between Amsterdam and Utrecht, is a reasonable question. Clever people have calculated that all that work has become wasted money to a large extent as the same foreseen plans for the Utrecht to Arnhem section, a more sophisticated ERTMS type of train control, would have done most of the job there as well. To which should carefully be added that that only counts as long as everything is rolling along just fine, if not, then there are even more trains standing still at even shorter intervals.
A number of consultancies, commissioned by the various authorities along the corridor, have found that while the present plans still cost a lot and will not bring any great benefit to anybody, the original plans would probably quite quickly start to pay for themselves as the grid locking of the motorways along the corridor continues in an accelerating pace as well. This, incidentally, is very visible from the trains, as indeed I noticed recently. Typically, therefore, they also found that increased spending on the motorways and virtually ignoring the rail line altogether would probably serve far more people quicker, although they failed to stress that this would unleash heavy additional spending on roads elsewhere as traffic problems would be moved from one location to the next.
In the meantime alarms are going off because on second sight it has been discovered that the contracts for the Southern High Speed Line toward Belgium and France have been so badly set up that the construction companies stand to earn millions of Euros extra in the courts of justice just because of the loopholes left in the legal bit by the zealous but as usual less smart government legal officials, this is assuming that everyone’s hands are clear from fraud etc. The prediction is that the wrangles will start round about the middle of the construction of the line, when stopping it would cost millions and delays would cause another loss of face for the government.
CLASS 58 DEFINITELY SELECTED BY ACTS, ACTS LOOSES WORK
Five class 58 will make their way to The Netherlands for ACTS. It has been decided that there is an economic case for the purchase of this traction since the ex-Belgian 6700 GM's are expensive on maintenance while their work range is hampered by the lack of ATP, fitting of which is deemed uneconomical when looking at their age. Also, they are actually underpowered for most jobs that ACTS wants them to do. Five complete ATB boxes have been delivered already and fitting as well as other alterations could be started very soon, so that it is possible that by the end of 2002 the locos are in service. Curiously, the fitting of the ATB kit will be done in Britain by EWS under supervision of NedTrain Tilburg, could this herald further developments?
In the meantime, on the 1st of November ACTS has given up on the Amsterdam Rotterdam (AmRo) intermodal shuttle and saw Railion take the services over using its wagonload network, showing a sense of humour in calling it the MoRo (Mokum-Rotjeknor) train. Railion offers far more connections than ACTS ever could and finds that there is quite a lot of business. This is not good news for those who enjoy seeing the class 1200 Co-Co' electrics at work as this was one of their main jobs. Secondly, ACTS has lost their Amsterdam and Rotterdam bound oil trains from Austria and Germany, which went back to Railion/DB Cargo after ACTS' Swiss partner Eurorail went out of business. ACTS, finding like every other railfreight operator involved that Dutch domestic services are not very profitable due to the short distances and the intense competition of both road and water transport, is still looking at more internationally orientated work. For this they will inevitably need far more versatile locos than what they have at present, but whether that will be class 58 is an interesting question. Somehow, like ShortLines, the company appears to lack critical mass and connections to really get into that sort of operation all on its own and maybe the time for small players with big ideas is past. Also in the motherland of rail freight transport piracy, Germany, the flurry of operators slowly seems to be settling for a smaller number of bigger players. Rumour has it that Dutch freight transporter Harry Vos Group, is trying to offload their share in ACTS, partially to get rid of a none too successful venture and also in order to buy transport more freely on the international rail transport market (e.g. Railion).
STRUKTON LOOKING FOR NEW TRACTION
Strukton is looking for ten mid-range DE or DH locos which must be able to work Europe-wide on infrastructure work and which must replace the still available but now unreliable ex-NS class 2200 locos they still employ. Their eye has fallen favourably on the Belgian class 77 DH version of the MaK/Vossloh type, which is understandable as much of their work is both in Belgium and The Netherlands where the type has received approval already and the basic type is approved in Germany, while Vossloh also has approval for the type in Italy and France. What I did not know but learned recently is that the Italian infrastructure company, which bought the ex-Belgian class 71 centre cab DH locos, NERI of Bologna, is in fact a subsidiary of Strukton. At present the 5 locos are to be found in a depot run by another Italian Strukton subsidiary, CLF at Reggio Emilia. I haven't heard of any action by the type as yet.
SYNTUS HAS PROBLEMS WITH ITS ROLLING STOCK
LinT DH unit No .31 was very badly damaged during a road crossing accident, its nose was crushed and the driver had to be cut out of his cab, the set is now back at Salzgitter for repairs. The foreseen introduction of two ex-BR class 141 Pacers in The Netherlands to replace the clapped out last DE2 set in public service between Almelo and Marienberg is finally and definitively off. Asbestos removal, the poor quality of the ride, the poor ambience and the light build in a countryside with many lightly protected road crossings, added to which there are the difficulties expected in fitting ATB-NG due to the unpredictable braking behaviour in bad adhesion circumstances, made Syntus decide that it wasn't an option. The old DE-2 will have to take the strain until the 1st of July 2002, when two LinT units will be allocated to the line.
NS BRINGS SYNTUS PROBLEMS
Syntus does not only have problems with its bus-drivers, because of the bad performance of NS, NS promised not to raise the prices of train tickets, to which local train and bus operator Syntus has to adhere because their train ticket prices are coupled to those of NS for clearing house reasons. They therefore cannot unilaterally raise the fares to counter the present financial slide, and so far, more than half a million guilders have been lost to them. Coupled to the serious problems Syntus has had due to the botched installation of new signalling and ATP, unreliable signalling elsewhere and a fair number of track problems, they are now in financial trouble. Apparently things are so bad that business failure is a distinct possibility.
In the meantime Syntus, assuming they survive, might become the operator of the present Betuwe line services from Arnhem to Tiel as well without actually tendering for it. NS doesn't want it and it does fit in with the sort of package that the Syntus operation in this part of The Netherlands constitutes. Apart from that, the customers are actually quite happy with Syntus, which is a relief to politicians. The only votes against this way of dealing comes from the Gelderland provincial deputies, as they fear that their budget will have to shoulder the losses on the line rather than that of the central ministry in Den Haag. But the majority have no overruling objections to Syntus taking over local train and bus traffic, bar the usual competition waffle of some. Syntus is also looking to take over local rail traffic between Apeldoorn and Zutphen, Arnhem and Emmerich in Germany, Arnhem and Nijmegen and possibly beyond Nijmegen on the Maas line.
MINISTER SACKS NS CHAIRMAN
In a move that resembles Mr. Byers' move here in Britain when he choked off Railtrack, Minister Tineke Netelenbosch has sacked NS Chairman of the Board Mr. Hans Huisinga. After this became known the entire board packed its briefcases and left as well, which left the NS holding without management. The move by the Minister was made following NS failed once more to reach an agreed punctuality figure by 0.1%, 79.9% of the trains ran on time instead of 80%. Given that these figures are up from an absolute low of 71.5% it is commonly regarded that the Minister had made her mind up that the board had to go and that she was looking for arguments to empower her to do something decisive. The 0.1% made it possible to do that without changing the laws governing the relation between NS as a "commercialised" undertaking and the government as its only shareholder. It is clear that a deeply flawed process of making Netherlands Railways a fully commercial and independent railway enterprise is at the root of the present crisis, something that virtually no politician seems to have understood, but for which they virtually all voted for in 1996.
The government is in that respect as equally blameworthy as the NS management, which in their turn rigidly followed the cost-cutting line toward the stock exchange and appeared absolutely unable to re-assess its position once it became clear that they were actually ruining the relationship between them and their customers, and with that with the government. It is indeed my assessment that the action of the minister, pretty similar to Mr. Byers action in its lack of thoroughness of strategy and preparation, has every appearance of politicians fearing the results of the next election. It is striking how near the positions of the railways in Britain and The Netherlands are, coming from such entirely different starting positions. The NS management has been temporarily replaced with a group of public servants under Mr. Karel Noordzij, formerly chairman of Transport and Logistics Netherlands and from Schiphol Airport.
Like in Britain there is a feeling that in fact it has been more of a gesture born out of frustration among politicians than a well-grounded move to improve the way the railways operate. It is clear to all concerned that neither government has covered itself with glory throughout the process. On the other side, NS management had made too many important mistakes to be a really credible party to lead NS out of the self-created mire. The benefit of the doubt was beautifully worded in The Gelderlander which wrote that old station stairs are best cleaned from the top down, and asks for similar measures against others who failed the public badly. This is generally seen to be the collectives, groups of on-train staff who organised the strikes following the simplification of the rosters which brought their jobs back to doing just a few routes and which really triggered the present mess in the public perception. Indeed, there are quite serious allegations that the 0.1% which finished off the NS management really was a form of sabotage from the side of the front line staff, even though the usual litany of broken wires, faulty signalling and failing computers would have probably done an equally thorough job, and that is overlooking the effects of snow and frost this time of the year. The punctuality figures for NS have shown that in a period of three months the situation slipped from 81 percent to 71.5 per cent before going back to the infamous 79.9%, which is mildly alarming. Mildly, because the figures for the DB for instance (just another operator working under a "commercialised" regime comparable to the privatised status of the British operators) show a similar nosedive (which non-commercialised operators such as those in Austria and Switzerland, for instance, do not!). And when trains move they are too often not of the proper configuration, which means that they are short formed in by far most of the cases.
Obviously, there are now a lot of people who want NS as was back, similar to those who would like to see BR brought back from the grave. I am not sure that that is a thing to look forward to. It is a fact that in the four European countries that took the lead as far as privatisation and commercialisation is concerned, Sweden, Britain The Netherlands and Germany; only Sweden appears to be reasonably stable and working well. Britain, The Netherlands and Germany all find themselves in crisis. On top of very similar problems to the railways in The Netherlands and Britain, incidentally, additionally the offices of the DB have been raided by police and inland revenue officers following strong allegations of corruption and on the invitation of harassed DB supremo Hartmuth Mehdorfer himself.
REPORT ON STAFF ROSTERING OUT SOON
Prof. Peeters from Belgium was hired in after the weeks of unrest among on-train staff to cast his expert eye on their rosters. His research has been finished and in January 2002 he will publish his report and his recommendations, and truth must be told the driver's organisations have already indicated to be sceptical. In order to contribute positively to the debate they have done their homework and aired their version of what should be done, which is surprisingly simple and shows what emotional interest they still have in their jobs. They want first and foremost to turn the rosters back to what they were before the unrest started, with much more varied and interesting work, but they agreed that the potential for compounding delay with those rosters, through relieving crews not showing up as they were still on delayed trains awaiting platforming was a matter of grave concern. So they proposed that the crew to be relieved stays with their train in case the relieving crew does not show up or in case there is no crew available at all. And that would clear the platform for following trains which keeps the jam moving, but it would also give the resources people time leeway to reallocate and call in other people while, and this is crucial, the customer is being kept happy.
From the management side on-train staff recruitment and the massive improvement in maintenance of the rolling stock are the issues to be very urgently addressed, in order to be able to offer trains in the promised amounts. Ten thousand refurbished seats in one hundred and fifty ex German coaches of twenty-five years old, even painted yellow and blue, is not really the answer we were waiting for. However great the relief, we know that many thousands of modern seats are stuck in sidings with trains awaiting repair due to sheer managerial blundering. These ICK coaches, incidentally, are now coming on-stream in large numbers and will be very noticeable soon in Dutch trains, unlike the refurb ICR that still does not seem to appear in any quantity at all. Meanwhile, NS has said that for the time being the pruned timetable will be adhered to into the summer of 2002.
The bus operators, which in The Netherlands too seem to be the chosen experts to deal with the new order in public transport as they at one time appeared to be in Britain, now find it is the turn of their bus drivers to show their dislike of the changes in their work. As the commercial kind of bus-operations start to bite they too appear far from happy with the results which, poignantly, they call the NS-problems, expect strikes soon.
OVERNIGHT EXPRESS OPERATION TERMINATED
Dishonesty within the ranks of shippers, unexpectedly aided by the crass stupidity of Italian rail unions, have killed off what looked like a promising, trend-setting endeavour of Railion and NS International together, the Overnight Express sleeping car and perishable freight express between Amsterdam and Milano. A number of potential shippers merely played at promising business in order to exert pressure on the lorry driver unions not to ask for more money, and much to their astonished relief they were handed a gold plated argument to not use ONE -as in reality they never intended to- by the Italian rail unions with their temporary but lethal refusal to work the ONE within Italy because it was neither a proper passenger nor a proper freight train and no-one had asked for their opinion on the subject. That as a result the road transport companies lost the potent competition of the ONE altogether made it even more of a success. Anyway, as the sleeping car portion of the train actually did good business all by itself there are serious talks between NS Int., Railion and a number of less disagreeable road transporters to set up a very similar service again, possibly under the recently established open access agreements in Italy using one of the quickly sprouted non ex-FS freight operators for onwards transport to Milano Melzo.
ARNHEM COMPANY DEVELOPS LINER INDUCTION PROPULSION FOR NORMAL LINES
Arcadis Engineering from Arnhem has developed a system with which normal train sets and track can fairly simply be fitted with linear induction motors, as have most of the MagLev trains. It would bypass the incompatibility which the MagLev trains have with the existing transport network and it would produce all the benefits of the efficiency of linear induction which does away with all the losses caused in the various rotating parts of the present electric motors and in the power transmission to the wheels while both for acceleration and for braking wheelslip and -slide and its associated costs in wheel and track damage could largely be avoided. Last but not least, it would be usable for freight trains as well. Additional benefits would be that, since no network has them as yet, standardisation throughout Europe would be a fairly simple thing making international exchange of traction easily possible. It is also important that in fact it would do away with traction units as we know them now, as Linear Induction traction can fairly easily be remotely controlled from traffic centres which also operate the signalling, road control and ATP functions. It does not require separate traction units as the on-board units fit under revenue earning vehicles as well which would all make the train much more competitive in one fell swoop. Stay tuned but do not expect anything soon.
By Peter van der Mark
GREAT AMSTERDAM TRAM SORT-OUT HAS STARTED
As the influx of the new Siemens Combino trams is imminent and the sifting through the available series to establish which ones will stay and which not has started and GVB has offered 130 trams for sale. The first to go are the unloved but good looking series 725-779, known as "air wagons" due to the hiss of escaping air from the automatic parking brake when they come to a stop. Also to go are the other unreliable Siematic "electronics" series 670-699 and 700-724. The oldest and as yet untreated 3G types 606, 628-632 and 634 are to go as well, even though the version with the classic, noisy switching wheel in the cab is probably the very last to go of this real old order as they are simple and reliable. The angular last classic series 9G and 10G will remain, as obviously will the recent Belgian built series with their Holec electronic gear. Quite a number of these stand OOU at present with collision damage and some switching of body parts between sets took place to keep the numbers of serviceable rolling stock up as best as possible. Whether repair or cannibalisation will take place has as yet not been decided.
During a head/tail collision on the Beneluxbaan between ECS normal tram 905 on line 5 and ECS sneltram 54 on line 51 one of the risks of using stock with different bogie heights became apparent; the tail of the higher standing sneltram crushed the cab of the lower street tram over a considerable length exposing the construction of the under frame, and the driver would have been killed had he still been in his seat.
ROTTERDAM RECEIVES EX VIENNA TRAMS
The perpetual shortage of trams in Rotterdam, leading to reintroduction of older types brought back from scrap heaps and museum tram organisations, has led to the acquisition of a number of two car sets from Vienna in Austria. They will work line two, which can handle their extra width, and they will retain the red and white livery with which they came to Rotterdam. They will be among the first to go as soon as the Alstom Citadis trams appear in February 2003, but it is safe to say that at least one will end up in the international collection in Amsterdam, together with an example of the true Rotterdam oldies.
LAST UTRECHT SNELTRAM VEHICLE IN GERMANY FOR REBUILD
After all the hoo-har surrounding the bank-induced bankruptcy of refurbisher PFA Weiden it is pleasing to see that both the NS ICK coaches as well as the Connexxion Utrecht trams have been handled with enormous speed as well as having the sort of quality of work that allowed a rapid re-introduction of the fleet with no complaints registered from any of the two Dutch operators. And so the last vehicle of the Utrecht to Nieuwegein fleet has arrived in Weiden for its turn to be overhauled and rebuilt. It is set 5022, which was badly damaged when it collided with a concrete pump vehicle on 8 Dec. last year.
By Paul Stoddart-van der Maaden
Compiled and translated from Het Openbaar Vervoer (issues Nov/Dec 01 and Jan 02).
On the 1st January 2002 Gertjan Kroon was appointed the successor to Andre Testa, director. Yet again an ex-Fokker man has been appointed into this leading GVB position.
On the 28th November it was decided to approve the plan for GVB privatisation. Whether a privatised GVB can meet the expectations of 'the public' seems to be doubtful, as the current/future expansion plans have not exactly met with public approval, such as for example 'De Aker' and 'VU' lines. A referendum-initiative has indeed already started, opposing the privatisation plans. For this initiative to be successful, it requires the backing of an initial 6237 (and later another 26000) signatures. It is thought this will not be an obstacle; the referendum is led by Erik Meijer, member of the euro-parliament.
Dare to be a tram driver? Aggression from passengers, road-users and gangs against public transport continues to increase. The GVB is attempting many avenues to reduce this through working more closely with the police and enforcing extensive ticket control at metro stations, where fare dodgers are the main problem. New ways of protecting ticket controllers are also being sought.
The New Combino Motor unit 2001 was delivered on 27th November and on public display at 'de Dam' a few days later. The prototype on display was without some of the modifications requested. It has also been decided to abandon external adverts on all trams and busses. The Combino’s do however have internal TV’s capable of displaying adverts. In fact, from 2004 onwards all GVB vehicles will be free of external adverts.
Problems ahead … The 8th December saw the line to 'De Aker' officially opened by 'soon-to-leave' director Testa. Sunday 9th December saw the introduction of the new service, including some changes and/or shortened routes elsewhere. Some of the 'executed' changes have caused lots of problems, including longer journey-times. Although this has been acknowledged by all those in the 'decision-making' process, it has also been ignored and no changes made. Subsequently there are only a small number of passengers on line 1 to 'De Aker'. This is mainly due to the fact that it will take some time for motorists and cyclists to change to public transport, and having to change trams en-route is also a deterrent. The frequency of line 1 can however not be reduced, due to its heavy use around 'de Overtoom' through to 'het Centrum'. To coincide with the opening of the line to 'De Aker', the GVB have launched a newssheet named 'Vaker naar de Aker' (more often to de Aker).
Use of tram/bus lines by taxis under review … it has been recommended to restrict the sharing of tram/bus lanes to taxis, and only to 'other users' where they have been able to demonstrate the necessity for use thereof. The current 'terms' for taxis are also under review. Traffic police have reported that taxis frequently bend the rules by exceeding the maximum speed of 20 km/hr alongside tram stops, taking-on/dropping-off passengers at tram stops and hindering trams by entering/exiting tram lanes.
Open Sesame … November saw the introduction of new 'swing-gates' at the entrance/exits of tram lanes where work is to be carried out. The new gates have been tested for all aspects of visibility, safety and to avoid damage to trams their 'collision-friendliness'.
Introducing the Euro … From the 1st of January the new currency became 'fact' on public transport. Fares (when purchased on tram or bus) could only be paid for in Euros. Ticket machines etc. continued to accept both currencies until the 27th January.
New Fares … Single/Return and One-day fares in Amsterdam were increased on the 1st January. The new fares, in Euros of course, are as follows … One-day: 5.20, Single: 2.90 and Return: 4.30.
Rolling stock … mws784, 796, 787 were painted in the new white/blue livery. Mw.693 once again became the 'Sky-sponsored’ Christmas tram on line 4 and 25 during the festive season. Line 20 is now simply known as the 'Circletram', and thus no longer 'A' or 'B' (not many of us really understood the difference anyway).
AOM vs. GVB … The GVB would like all museum trams removed from service works in and around Amsterdam. There is however one slight problem - the GVB does not own the sites, the city of Amsterdam does. Amsterdam has decided that as the AOM is also a user of the rail net, it has a right to a roof above its head. There is however little room for them in the 'Havenstraat' and 'Lekstraat', as all space will be taken up by the new Combino's. They have therefore been given temporary shelter at the HWT. When the re-build of the 'Lekstraat' is complete, 4 PCC's will once again return.
More problems with tram-tunnel … more water has started to surface during the tunnelling under the Grote Marktstraat. This has meant also this part of the tunnel must be dug under high-pressure conditions, as was the 'Kalvermarkt' section. This will however cause a further delay of two months. According to the project-director this delay was a 'calculated risk', and the situation was completely under control. Surveyors have now however confirmed that the building habited by Marks & Spencer (Grote Markstraat) is now leaning towards the tram tunnel, but remains within acceptable limits. Apparently all of this subsidence is a direct consequence of building tram station 'Spui'. Special measures have been taken to ensure the tunnel walls do not 'move', and it is expected that 'movement' in tunnel walls will cease when the deepest part (the trackbed) of the tunnel has been completed. Watch this space!
Fraud in Rail-projects … Den Haag has started to investigate its 'build-contracts' for signs of fraud, partly due to the 'Zemla' TV-documentary entitled 'Sjoemelen met miljoenen'. The programme suggested that fraud might have taken place during the building of tramline 17 to Wateringse Veld and the tram tunnel.
Infrastructure … February of this year saw the start of a replacement programme of the track and points at the crossing of 'Haagweg' and 'Geestbrugweg' at Rijswijk. The work will take an estimated nine weeks to complete, apparently without any road-diversions.
Zwartrijden (fare dodgers) … Up to now, fare dodgers have been fined Dfl 64.50, a fine often met with aggression. To avoid such confrontations, an alternative 'fine' has been introduced. Fare dodgers, when caught, will now have to purchase a one-day ticket costing €5. Should they refuse to purchase this, then they will be fined at the higher rate. Apparently the HTM is calling this approach a runway success, with fare dodging dropping from 8.4 to 5%, together with a notable reduction in aggression towards HTM staff. Fare controllers do however have some doubts, namely that many travellers will now take the risk of being caught, with only a small fine to pay.
The money's been found … Finances for the new build of tramline 19 between Delft Centrum - Ypenburg - Leidschendam and Voorburg has been finalised. It is hoped services will start around 2005/6. Line 19 will leave Delft Station via the route of Line 1 towards Brasserskade and then via the recently completed viaduct over the A13 towards Ypenburg and on to Leidschenveen and Sijtwnde.
Listening to passengers? … Around a quarter million passengers use public transport in and around Den Haag on a daily basis. Up and until now however, they have never been consulted about travel times and tariffs. The consumer group 'Reizigers Openbaar Vervoer' is looking to change this, being aided by the new 'Passenger Transport' law. This essentially means that representatives from different social and cultural backgrounds (including organisations representing the handicapped, elderly and chamber of commerce) will be able to advise in the areas of the awarding of concessions, frequency, stops and tariffs. Both Connexxion and HTM run concessions in this area.
Kindness to cyclists … The HTM has created an experimental road surface by raising the areas between the rails and making the rails-gaps even narrower. It is hoped this will make falls by cyclists and 'scooters' a thing of the past.
Can anybody hear me? … It appears the fire brigade’s communication devices do not work when in the Haagse tram tunnel. The radio signals are apparently not able to penetrate the tunnel walls. This problem first came to light recently when a small fire had to be putout in the tunnel. Both the local authorities and the fire brigade are not too sure how to solve this problem.
RET to remain complete … RET will not be split-up for the time being. It has been decided to award Rotterdam’s 'rails' (tram and metro) and bus services under one concession. Apparently the RET committee are also happy with this decision, as they see no advantage in a split, and indeed fear a loss of service quality should this happen at all.
Centraal Station too expensive … Minister Netelenbosch has informed Rotterdam that the plans for a new Centraal Station are far too expensive. Rotterdam in turn claims that funds reserved by 'The State' for Rotterdam are hardly enough to create a 'basic' station. According to Rotterdam a substantial increase in funds is required to build a terminal of international allure. The two parties are planning to come together during March in order to find 'common ground' and adjust the current plan to at least get the first phase underway.
Benelux line … completion is nearing, with the track now joined on the Schiedam side, connecting Schiedam and Pernis/Hoogvliet by metro line. The line connecting De Akkers (Spijkernisse) and De Tochten (Zevenkamp) is around 30 km. Test runs will not start until April, as the build and interior design of stations is not yet complete. It is hoped the line will be opened on 1st September 2002
Bombardier-metro look-alikes … 18th December saw the arrival of the first of a series of new 'sneltrams'. The first unit to be delivered, 5401 strongly resembles the Bombardier-metro, which has been running on the Erasmusline since 1999. Although they may look similar, 50% of the original design had to be adjusted for tram operations, from pantograph and rail brakes to indicators and brake lights. The new 'sneltram' will service the 'Calandline' and the extension thereof, the Beneluxline.
High-tech training … In November the first ever (for the Netherlands anyway) metro/sneltram simulator was ordered with the French company Corys-Tess. The simulator is an exact replica of a Bombardier sneltram 'cockpit', and sits on a platform capable of replicating the five 'Definitions of Freedom' enabling lifelike movements. As with aircraft simulators, all scenarios can be entered by computer from weather conditions to interference. The simulator will become operational around February 2003 and will be located at the 'Shuttlespace' underneath 'Wilhelminaplein'.
Handcuffs at the ready … December saw RET controllers issued with handcuffs, enabling them to restrain aggressive fare dodgers until the police arrive on the scene. The cuffs will be carried 'visibly', acting as a deterrent. RET and the police have also agreed to work 'closer' and 'The State' has pledged to support this with stronger convictions as and when cases come in front of the law courts. An agreement to this end was signed and agreed for a period of two years, starting on January 1st. The RET has published the main problem-areas, namely Centraal Station, Beurs, Wilhelminaplein and Zuidplein (Erasmusline) and on the Calandline the stations Marconiplein (lots of graffiti and vandalism), Eendractsplein, Oostplein and Capelsebrug. RET is currently recruiting up to 130 stewards to 'keep a watchful eye', particularly on the Caland and Erasmus lines.
Dynamic public transport … November saw the start to bring line 2 up to 'TramPlus' standards. This includes raised platforms (with catenary adjusted accordingly) and of course low-floor trams (2003 onwards). Additionally, tram stops will have 'dynamic' travel information, and trams will be given 'right of way' at all junctions.
No free lunch … Minister Netelenbosch has voiced her disagreement with the proposed plan for 'free public transport' in Hoofddorp and Nieuw-Vennep. Should the 'Haarlemmermeer' continue with these plans, they will not be financially support by 'The State'.
MIVB - Brussel …a new bridge is to be built at Picardstraat/Havenlaan, initially only for pedestrians, cyclists and busses, the bridge will later also be opened to trams.
New tariffs were introduced in January with a single now at €1.40 and a one-day ticket at €3.60. To coincide with the changeover to Euros, students have been appointed as 'EuroStewards' to provide travellers with information and to distribute leaflets. Their main aim was to get travellers to pay with 'exact money' in Euros.
Four manufacturers have answered the initial tender to supply new tram rolling stock. They include Alstom, Siemens, AnsaldoBreda and Bombardier. All of these may also test their 'offerings' on the streets of Brussels, against a 'reasonable reimbursement'.
TEC - Societe Regionale Wallone du Transport … the city of Charleroi has now devised a new route for the future extension of the tramline. It will no longer run over 'boulevard Tirou', but now from 'rue du Pont Neuf, via 'rue de l'Ecluse' and over the 'Sambre' via the 'pont saint-Roch' to the current end-stop 'Gare du Sud'.
Vlaamse Vervoer Maatschappij (De Lijn) … the number of passengers has increased by 11% during 2001. At least half of the increase can be attributed to pensioners using the service. The 1st July will also see the introduction of the 3W+ pass. (3w = live, work and shop). The pass will be accepted on all lines and cost €190.31 per annum.
Bombardier… The take-over of Adtranz by Bombardier has finally been approved by Brussels; the Elin and Staler divisions have been sold, with Statdler obtaining the license to manufacture the Regio Shuttle trains and the Vario trams.
Bombardier is now busy determining any production overlap and overcapacity. No doubt this will mean closures, but as to which locations has as yet not been revealed, thus leaving sites such as Adtranz' Nuremberg factory in the dark. Bombardier has however confirmed that the Villeneuve site (Switzerland) will remain open for at least three years. The Adtranz 'Pratteln' site (Switzerland) will also continue, although with a slimmed-down capacity and under the new name of 'Railcor', this site manufacturers coaches for the SBB. Rumours are also about that the German 'Henningsdorf' and Talbot Aken' sites will face closure.
Alstom Transport … this manufacturer is currently developing a multi-system low-floor tram, the Citadis-500. There are plans to manufacture this model in both electric and diesel versions.
Siemens … It has been decided to expand the test facilities of Wegberg-Wildenrath and create a new concern at the same time. The expansion plans include a wind tunnel and climate room. At the same time, and following in the footsteps of the successful 'Combino', Siemens are also developing the 'Avanto', a 70% low-floor tram capable of speeds up to 105 km/hr.
By Peter van der Mark
OLD POSTAL VEHICLE DISCOVERED AND SAVED
On the premises of a scrap yard in Soest the body of P 6007 from 1907 was found, technically in a very bad condition but containing numerous important parts, and immediate action was taken to save the remains. Members of SGB in Goes, together with members of many other organisations, dismantled the vehicle and stored it in a container, which was then brought to Goes. Originally it had a steel frame and a wooden body structure, which was clad with sheet steel. In fact only the wooden bits of the body were still available but this contained many important interior details inside. Also the remains of the original brakeman's cabin at one end were still in place. As SGB also has P6028 (1915), the idea is to use the remains of both to complete one pre-war postal vehicle in operational condition, of which no other example has survived in The Netherlands.
UTRECHT MUSEUM AND WERKGROEP 1501 SWAP CLASS 1200 LOCOS
The Nederlands Spoorwegmuseum and the Werkgroep 1501 have swapped locos 1201 and 1211. Loco 1211 will become the spender of parts for working museum loco 1202 while 1201, cannibalised already for 1202, is actually in an appreciably better state than 1211 which is plagued by the feared traction motor/axle bearing problems that beset the 1200's especially later in their life. And so the first two -Baldwin Philadelphia built- examples of the class have been saved in working order for posterity. NS hired the 1202 recently for road learning purposes for Amsterdam CS based local drivers and this saw the loco arrive at places where even at the height of its working life it had never been, such as Enkhuizen and Lelystad.
While this Utrecht based loco is cruising the country in the blue livery, Werkgroep will outwardly restore 1201 into its delivery appearance, complete with the US inherited draughty slatted sidelights in the cab, which still feature on all scale models that I know of, and with the greenish blue turquoise livery which according to the legend was pressed upon NS by the wife of the chairman of the board Mr. den Hollander and which was changed into the darker blue livery when it was found that the turquoise was a nightmare to keep clean in those days of clasp brakes with their accompanying clouds of brake dust.
From Paul Stoddart-van der Maaden
Due to the planning-phase taking longer than expected, Het Nederlands Spoorwegmuseum (Maliebaan, Utrecht) have now delayed their closure date planned for 2nd September of this year. A new closure date is not expected to be announced for some time now. This also means that the museum's 75th Anniversary will be held at this site. See more at www.spoorwegmuseum.nl
BELGIAN AND LUXEMBOURG RAILWAY NEWS