Latest News
This page contains the latest news reported from the Benelux Countries. The page will be changed each year with the contents transfered to the Timeline pages. If you have any news please contact the webmaster

Update June 2013

MPs want permanent alternative for high-speed service to Brussels

MPs want ministers to look at the feasibility of running a full-service, permanent alternative to the Fyra high-speed service to Brussels.Intercity trains between Amsterdam, Antwerp and Brussels were scrapped last year when the Fyra service was introduced but that was suspended because of technical problems.At the moment, there are eight intercity trains a day between The Hague and Brussels but no direct connection with the Dutch capital

 

Fury and confusion as Belgium pulls out of high speed Fyra trains

The future of the high speed rail link between Amsterdam and Brussels was thrown into confusion on Friday evening after the Belgian national railway company said it is pulling out of the project.High speed train services between the two capitals began last December and all intercity services were stopped. But the Fyra service – a joint venture between the Belgian and Dutch national railways - was dogged by problems and was suspended earlier this year.On Friday afternoon, Belgian rail operator NMBS said it was pulling out of the Fyra project because of a string of technical problems, ranging from loose components, rust and leaks in the snow.

Serious

‘It would have been funny if it had not been so serious,’ NMBS director Marc Descheemaecker is quoted as saying by news agency ANP.According to Nos television, Belgian engineers found the Fyra brakes were only suitable for trains travelling at up to 160 kph. The high-speed train travels at up to 250 kph.‘We don’t want to take any risks, let alone with a high-speed train,’ RTL news quoted escheemaecker as saying.

Go it alone

It is not clear why the Belgians decided to go public with their decision on Friday or why the two companies did not present their findings jointly. The NS plans to publish its report on the Fyra problems in mid June.Belgium has now cancelled its orders for Fyra trains with the Italian makers AnsaldoBreda and the €37m will be refunded, ANP said. The NS has bought nine trains and has others on order.The NS said on Friday afternoon it would publish the results of its own research into the Fyra situation and plans for an alternative train connection between the two countries next month.

Minister

‘I take note of the NMBS decision. They have informed me by letter which I am studying carefully,’ junior transport minister Wilma Mansveld said in a reaction.Dutch MPs reacted furiously to today's developments. ‘The facts presented by the Belgians about the technical problems are disastrous,’ said VVD parliamentarian Betty de Boer. ‘But we are now in a situation in which the NS has bought the trains and the NS management needs to make its position clear,' she said. 'When we know that, we can decide what to do next.’

Lack of information

ChristenUnie MP Carla Dik said she was shocked by the minister’s response. ‘Why do the Belgians have all the information to take a decision about Fyra and the NS and minister don’t?’ she said.‘The countries and the transport firms should be working together on this, and this has been a problem since the beginning,’ she said. ‘Intercity services should be resumed on an hourly basis as soon as possible.’Since Fyra services have been suspended, there have been some replacement services between The Hague and Brussels but not as many as MPs or the city of The Hague would like.Christian Democrats called for a parliamentary inquiry into the debacle.

© DutchNews.nl

March 2013

In January, the Belgian Government announced that SNCB is to be restructured by January 2014.

The new company, Belgian Railways, will have 2 elements. SNCB will own locomotives and rolling stock and will operate both passenger and freight services, whilst Infrabel will own and operate the rail network (at present there are 3 companies with all staff employed by B Holdings, the co-ordinating company).

The Belgian rail unions are opposing the move and want to retain a single organisation.

SNCB stops deliveries of new Desiros

In February, SNCB suspended delivery of 250 Siemens Desiro units due to technical problems.

In 2008, SNCB placed an order with Siemens for 305 Desiro ML electric multiple-units (EMU's). At Euro1.425bn it was both the biggest order placed by SNCB and won by Siemens. The EMU's are being built in Germany and it is the first time SNCB had ordered away from the Brugge-based BN (now Bombardier) factory. The 3-car, 280 seat Desiros are intended to replace a wide range of ageing EMU's and loco-hauled stock with a standard set.

The first 95 EMU's are 3kV DC units for the Brussels RER system, with the remainder 3kV DC/25kV AC dual voltage sets for use in the Meuse valley and on cross-border services to France and Luxembourg. So far, 55 units have been delivered and it is reported that Siemens has paid Euro25m in penalties for late delivery. Apparently, 1,500 technical and quality faults have been formally raised, of which Siemens has accepted 906 and rejected 77, with a further 517 faults under investigation.

Operator sought for The Hague-Brussels service
www.railwaygazette.com/news/passenger/single-view/view/operator-sought-for-den-haag-brussels-service.html

Transport situation eases as snow stops
www.expatica.com/be/news/local_news/Transport-situation-eases-as-snow-stops_261106.html

Dutch Railways buy 49% of The Hague's public transport company
www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2013/03/dutch_railways_buy_49_of_the_h.php

Mechelen bypass contracts awarded
www.railwaygazette.com/news/projects-infrastructure/single-view/view/mechelen-bypass-contracts-awarded.html

February 2013

Train app lets customers see how busy carriages are before boarding

www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-02/18/train-crowds-app

'Ijmondlijn'

The railway line between Santpoort Noord and Ijmuiden - known either as the 'Ijmondlijn' or the 'Vislijn' - which was closed by NS in 1983, dewired the following year and disused since the demise of the Lovers Rail service between Amsterdam CS and Ijmuiden in December 1999 (the connection at Santpoort Noord was removed soon after) is in the process of being converted to a busway between Velsen and Ijmuiden at a cost of Euro 67.5m.

Work started in 2011 for completion in 2015.

From issue 349 of the online 'Railway Herald'


SNCB and NS Hispeed have announced the replacement for the suspended Brussels-Amsterdam Fyra service.

Passengers have the option of using the more expensive Thalys service or a new Brussels Midi-The Hague conventional service. From 18th February, two services will operate each way, increasing to eight each way from 11th March. These will call at Brussels Central, Mechelen, Antwerp Central, Roosendaal, Dordrecht and Rotterdam.

The journey time between Brussels and The Hague will be two hours. Passengers for Amsterdam and other destinations are being advised to change at Rotterdam

Transport ministry sat on critical railway report for seven months

Wednesday 30 January 2013

The transport ministry sat on a highly critical report about rail operator ProRail for seven months, the Volkskrant reports on Wednesday.

The paper used freedom of information legislation to access the transport inspectors' report, which states ProRail has accepted such cheap tenders for rail maintenance that extra delays and accidents may be inevitable.The report's findings are in line with a briefing sent by rail maintenance company Strukton to parliament in November, the paper points out. At the time, junior transport minister Wilma Mansveld said the letter was 'without foundation and premature'.

Agreement

A spokesman for Mansveld told the Volkskrant the report had been kept secret because ProRail had promised to make improvements and take action to stem the downward price spiral.The minister later told parliament 'it would have been better' if the report had been made public earlier.According to Strukton director Diederik Schonebaum, those efforts resulted in failure. 'Someone needs to bang their fists on the table,' he said. 'If they do we will not have to hold a parliamentary inquiry in 10 years to find out why there are so many delays and accidents on the railways.'Opposition MPs have also demanded clarity from the minister.'I am totally surprised the minister acted as if nothing was wrong when parliament recently asked her about problems on the railways,' CDA MP Sander de Rouwe told the Volkskrant. 'I cannot reconcile her laconic attitude with the hefty criticism in this crisis report.'

State-owned

The Dutch railway network is owned by the state, with NS responsible for passenger services and ProRail for the tracks. Strukton used to be owned by the NS but is now in private hands.Current transport minister Melanie Schultz was responsible for the railways until the new government took office at the beginning of November and the job was switched to her deputy.

© DutchNews.nl

Update January 2013

From the online 'Railway Herald' magazine.

Work starts on new rail museum

Work has begun on the creation of Train World, Belgium's forthcoming railway museum in Schaerbeek, on the outskirts of Brussels.
Train World will showcase the past, present and future of Belgian railways, and is set to open in 2014. Despite its abundant history and collections of railway artefacts, Belgium does not yet have its own railway museum, even though the first railway line in continental Europe opened in May 1835 between Brussels and Mechelen. The project is being managed by SNCB/NMBS which has entrusted the visual layout of the museum to internationally reputed Belgian comic-book artist Francois Schuiten.

Train World will vividly tell the story of the Belgian railways' heritage and the significant role of the train in Belgium's economic and social development, as well as in the area of mobility today.

The public will learn about 175 years of railway history in Belgium and Europe, from the country's oldest locomotive to the latest state-of-the-art train. Visitors will enter the premises through Schaerbeek's impressive 1913 station building, before proceeding to the exhibits that will be housed in an adjacent new Euro20.5m, 8,000 square metre building. Exhibits will include a number of steam, diesel and electric locomotives, a diesel railcar, an EMU and a wide range of railway artefacts. The creation of Train World is expected to see some rationalisation of Belgium's preserved rolling stock, the majority of which is currently stored. Items not used at the museum or considered worthy of retention are likely to be disposed of.

Rail users complain to competition watchdog over Belgian routes

Train users group Rover has made a formal complaint to the competition authority NMa about the sharp increase in fairs on the Rotterdam to Antwerp route from next month.From December 9, passengers will only be able to travel directly between the two cities using the hi-speed train Fyra. That means a sharp hike in fairs of at least 30%. Discount cards will also no longer be valid on the trains.Rover accuses Dutch Rail (NS) of abusing its monopoly position. In some cases, people will have to pay double the current price of a ticket, Rover says.

 

October 2012

The cost of a single train ticket between Amsterdam and Brussels is set to go up from €40.40 to €54 when the high-speed Fyra trains replace existing services, according to website treinreiziger.nl.

A flexible day return between the two cities will go up from €51.80 to €108 while a day return from Rotterdam to Antwerp will increase from €25 to €70, the website says.The new prices were accidently published on the website of Belgian national railway company NMBS but have since been removed.The introduction of high speed trains on the route from December 9 will cut journey times from three to two hours. However, travellers will have to book seats in advance and can no longer turn up to catch a train.In addition, treinreiziger says there will be fewer services.

Early bookers will be able to get hefty discounts on the high-speed trains but, the website says, experience shows these are always sold out quickly. Passengers who want to avoid the higher fares will have to take alternative slower trains via Roosendaal.

- See more at: http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2012/10/train_tickets_to_belgium_set_t.php#sthash.V4bneBT1.dpuf

Belgian rail strike to hit Eurostar, Thalys service

A strike by Belgian rail workers starting late Tuesday will bring the domestic network to a halt as well as international high-speed connections run by Eurostar and Thalys, the national SNCB network said.Trains services will stop at 2000 GMT on Tuesday and resume on Thursday morning, the SNCB added.The strike will halt TGV and Thalys services from Brussels to London, Paris, Amsterdam and Cologne.Trade unions called the stoppage to protest government plans to reorganise the railways around two main companies to replace the current three. The unions are demanding the formation of a single company

 

Update December 2011

ProRail says it is up-to-date with maintenance
www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/10/prorail_says_it_is_uptodate_wi.p
hp

Credit rating agency Standard and Poor's put the Dutch railways (NS) on 'creditwatch negative' on Monday. This means the company's AA- rating may be downgraded.

Whether this happens will, according to S&P, depend on the credit rating of the Dutch state, the sole shareholder. Last week S&P issued a warning to most European Union countries that their credit ratings are in danger because of "increased systems risks". In the case of the Dutch railways, S&P is examining whether a downgrade for the Dutch state would endanger its funding. It will also consider the effect of worsening economic conditions on its credit rating.

Update November 2011

High-speed line to cost €600m more

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Solving the financial problems of the high-speed railway line will cost €1bn and not the €390m originally quoted by infrastructure minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen, NRC claims on Tuesday.The paper says the minister has used a combination of new money and accounting tricks to end the financial problems which have beset the high speed network.Last Friday the minister outlined a rescue plan based on allowing Dutch Rail (NS) intercity trains to use the high-speed line from 2015. This will cost €390m, the minister said, which is considerably below the €2.4bn that bankruptcy would have cost the state. 

Extra money

However, in the briefing to parliament ahead of a debate on her ministry's budget, Schultz van Haegen admitted the high-speed line will also receive €200m from the finance ministry.Furthermore, she is using a book-keeping trick by writing €400m of future profit into this budget period, the paper said.

Christian Democrat and D66 MPs accused the minister of painting too rosy a picture of the future facing the high speed train system. They have called for a formal investigation into the minister's costings.

© DutchNews.nl

Sunday 20th November 2011

Hundreds of bus and tram drivers, conductors and other public transport staff demonstrated Sunday in front of Amsterdam’s Central Station. They were protesting against cuts in public transport in Amsterdam (GVB) and Rotterdam (RET). A separate action was held in The Hague.

The demo was part of a public bus and rail strike in the country's three biggest cities, organised by the unions. The action was supported by other organisations such as the Dutch Friends of the Earth (Milieudenfensie) because of the impact the budget cuts could have on the environment. The environmental activists sawed a bus in two to demonstrate the effect of a 40 percent cut.Protesters carried placards with slogans such as, “Rutte is putting public transport users in the cold” and, “Say no to the PVV, because they are pawning the RET”. PVV refers to the Freedom Party who were against the liberalisation of public transport in their manifesto, but support the measures at local government level.Public transport employees in The Hague (HTM) held their own smaller demonstration in The Hague. Bus and tram workers and the Hague public are opposed to putting the local public transport franchise out to tender, arguing that the HTM company has provided satisfactory services since 1864.Later in the afternoon a demonstration was held on Dam Square entitled the Day of Indignation. It was organised to protest against various other government cuts caused by the economic crisis.

Virgin tried to take over Dutch high speed train services: Nos

Wednesday 09 November 2011

British transport group Virgin submitted a formal plan to take over the operation of high speed train services in the Netherlands to the transport ministry this summer, Nos television reports on Wednesday.Virgin executives made a presentation to three senior civil servants, outlining their plans to revitalise the financially-troubled service. Virgin has also mooted basing its European headquarters in the Netherlands, Nos says.Phil Pacey, the director of Virgin Rail's new projects arm, has also been involved in the takeover efforts. According to Nos, Pacey is concerned about the quality of the Dutch trains, the fact they leave from platform 13 at Amsterdam's central station, and the pricing structure.

Problems

The Dutch high speed rail network came into service in 2009, three years later than planned and has been beset by difficulties with the trains, speed and shortfall in passengers. Germany's Deutsche Bahn and France's SNCF are also interested in taking over the Dutch operations, Nos says.Transport minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen is currently in talks about a rescue plan. A spokesman for the minister told Nos the aim is to find a solution which benefits both travellers and taxpayers.

© DutchNews.nl

Strippenkaart disappears from all buses, trams and metros

Thursday 03 November 2011

The strippenkaart disappears from all bus, tram and metro services from Thursday morning. The public transport chip card is now the only acceptable form of payment.Until Wednesday night, the strippenkaart was still valid in four provinces, although it disappeared from most of the country over the past two years.Paper tickets are now only available in trains but the NS is planning to scrap these at the end of 2012.

© DutchNews.nl

AlstomAmsterdam1

Leon Linders, President of Alstom Netherlands, unveiled the first trainset of the Amsterdam metro at Alstom’s site in Valenciennes (Nord), where it was designed and manufactured.

Representatives of the city of Amsterdam and the Dutch operator GVB were on hand for the event. The trainset is currently undergoing trials at Alstom’s Valenciennes site and at the Valenciennes Rail Testing Centre. It will be delivered next February and is due to enter commercial service in autumn 2012. All the trainsets will operate on the metro lines in Amsterdam.

In February 2010, the city of Amsterdam (Netherlands) placed a €200 million order with Alstom Transport for 23 metro trainsets.The contract includes an option for additional metro trainsets for the future North/South line that is currently under construction.The Amsterdam metro will consist of trainsets from Alstom’s Métropolis range.

Its large doors, visual management of their opening/closing thanks to LED lights, height ceiling superior to the standard (2,30 m vs 2,10 m), platform-height floor, wide seats and gangways will make access and moving around on board much easier.Enhanced interior design providing more natural light, 100% lighting in LED technology and dynamic travel information displays will improve passengers’ safety and comfort.The extended length of the new trainsets (116 m) means capacity will be increased by approximately 50%

Source Alstom

Update October 2011

Cutting services will avoid winter railway chaos say rail firms

Dutch rail (NS) and network operator ProRail will take precautionary measures this winter and run fewer trains if bad weather is forecast, infrastructure minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen says in a written memorandum to parliament.The object is to avoid problems in one part of the network leading to delays elsewhere, as happened last winter after a heavy snowfall.

The NS used a preventative timetable for the first time in June this year when a severe storm was forecast. Although the storm was not as severe as expected and despite fuller trains and longer waiting times, passengers reacted positively enough to make the move company policy, according to NS.Passengers will be alerted to new timetables by Teletekst and Twitter the day before and stations will have new screens giving information. No one will wait longer than ten minutes for information, says NS.

Schultz says she is convinced NS and ProRail are doing everything to avoid the chaotic scenes of last autumn and winter. 'Passengers' interests are more central,' she said.

© DutchNews.nl

ProRail fails to meet agreements on spending on maintenance

Railway network operator ProRail has spent less money on maintaining the railways than was promised, according to the national audit office (rekenkamer) on Monday.The auditors say ProRail has not spent a maximum of €1.1bn since it was set up in 2005, 10% of its total budget over the period.They also say that the infrastructure ministry has been lax in keeping parliament fully informed, leaving MPs with no opportunity to check and redirect budget spending.

Information gap
Parliament already had an idea it was not receiving clear and complete information about how ProRail spends its budget. It has set up a commission to look into the matter which will report in January 2012. The national audit office report is a first step.Infrastructure minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen told the press she will improve the flow of information but she does not agree that 10% of the budget has not been spent.ProRail accepts the report. 'We did spend less than the total budget in the period 2005-2010, but that doesn't mean necessary maintenance has not been carried out,' a spokesman said.

© DutchNews.nl

Disposable urinals on commuter trains

Dutch Railways (NS) has announced that it will provide disposable urinals when a commuter train without toilets is forced to make an emergency stop. Travellers will be allowed to use the empty driver’s cabin at the back of the train.

The measure is intended as an answer to criticism from passengers who were unable to relieve themselves when their train was stranded. The bio-degradable disposable urinals come in one model, which is reportedly suitable for both men and women.Travellers interest group Rover has welcomed the move but characterised it as a stop-gap measure. The organisation says it doubts whether the disposable urinals would actually be suitable for women and said the only real solution was to install toilets on all trains.

The main rail workers union VVMC characterised the move as a “disaster”. According to the union, NS never bothered to discuss its plans with train drivers, whose place of work would be turned into a kind of toilet. VVMC says it will tell NS management “to find another solution. This is simply unhygienic.''Transport Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen initially thought it was all a joke, but later said that disposable urinals could never be an alternative for regular toilets. Ms Schultz van Haegen announced in April that all trains on the main rail network must have toilets by 2025.

IJmeerlijn revealed

Three feasibility studies for a direct metro line between Amsterdam and the growing satellite town of Almere across the IJmeer lake have been completed on behalf of development agency Werkmaatschappij Almere-Amsterdam. Two of the options will now be selected for further analysis, and the selected project could be completed in 2025-30.

The IJmeerverbinding (Ijmeer connection) is intended to support growth in the Amsterdam suburb of IJburg and Almere, where the population is predicted to grown from 192 000 to 350 000 by 2030. The go-ahead has been given for 25 000 homes subject to a second rail link being provided to relieve the existing Hollandsebrug road and rail bridge across the IJmeer. Six plans were proposed, of which three have been taken to the stage of a technical and economic feasibility study.

The M55 consortium including Mott MacDonald, MNO Vervat and Baca Architects was commissioned to develop a proposal based on a tunnel. A 20 km metro extension would run from Diemen-Zuid to IJburg, followed by a 9 km immersed tunnel under the IJmeer to reach to Almere Centrum. There would be three surface and two underground stations, with one of the underground stations at IJburg offering boat mooring spaces as what is claimed as the first 'sail and ride' facility. Material excavated from the tunnel would be used to create a new car-free island with 3 000 homes which could be served by Personal Rapid Transit. This plan is costed at €3·2bn.

Jacobs, APPM and Posad have proposed De Nieuwe Lijn as an elevated alternative. The metro would be extended from a relocated station and transport hub at Diemen, then cross the IJmeer by four cable-stayed bridges between new islands to reach Almere Pampus West. There would be shared running with the existing heavy rail line through Almere Centrum to reach a new terminus. The cost of this scheme is put at €2·6bn.

Movares has put forward RegioMetro, a proposal for a phased extension of the metro and a crossing of the IJmeer on an arched bridge. Priced at up to €2·5bn, this project could be completed in phases

Update July 2012

Utrecht Train Station Gets a Slide for Passengers in a Hurry

Dutch train passengers running late to their appointments have a quicker option for getting across Overvecht Station - and that option isn't a new flight of stairs or an elevator.Design firm HIK Ontwerpers recently installed a slide in the newly renovated station on the Utrecht-Kampen railway to add a little fun to the everyday lives of commuters. Officially called a "transfer accelerator," the slide was installed in this underutilized area as part of HIK Ontwerpers ongoing urban installations series, Huffington Post reported. Past installations in Utrecht include illuminated poetry light plates, an outdoor public kitchen and a cheeky little car filled with astroturf called "Rent-a-park

Update May 2011

Netherlands: Zuidbroek-Veendam reopens‏

Recieved a newspaper cutting from one of my Dutch aunts in the post yesterday mentioning that the Zuidbroek-Veendam line in Groningen Province in the Netherlands saw its passenger service restored on the 1st May after a 57 year gap, with Arriva services operating between Groningen and Veendam half-hourly Mon-Sat and hourly on Sundays.

According to the newspaper cutting (in Dutch of course) the station is unstaffed but has a ticket machine, but this only dispenses OV Chipkaarts (public transport chip cards) although Netherlands Railways (NS) tickets are valid. These can only be purchased at present from Veendam Tourist Information Centre however!

The new station is also adjacent to the Veendam terminus of the STAR (STAdskanaal Rail) heritage railway, who use the towns original station. More info (in English) at
www.stadskanaalrail.nl/star/en/star_en.php

The only reference I could find to the reopening in English was this entry in Wikipedia at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veendam_railway_station
although I found this news item from a local TV station (in Dutch of course) on the inaugural train to Veendam at
www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmyKpyX2zL0Update April 2011

Fyra Services extended to Breda

From 4th April, the NS HiSpeed, or FYRA, services (currently locomotive-hauled pending the much-delayed delivery of the high-speed trainsets from AnsaldoBreda) between Amsterdam CS and Rotterdam will be extended to/from Breda.

Provisional departure times:

From Amsterdam CS at 0556 (not Sundays), 0626 (not Sundays),  0656 then at xx26 and xx56 minutes past the hour until 1956, then hourly until 2256.

From Breda at 0624 (not Sundays), 0654, 0724 then at xx54 and xx24 minutes past the hour until 2124 then 2224.

For more information go to the website at www.fyra.nl or visit your nearest staffed NS station.

Off-peak discount rail card to be suspended for evening rush hour

Dutch Rail (NS) wants to stop giving 40% cheaper tickets to passengers with a discount card who travel between 17.00 and 19.00 hours, magazine HP/De Tijd reports on Friday.The discount card costs €55 and was introduced in an effort to get people to avoid the morning rush hour. But the NS now wants evening rush hour passengers to pay full fares as well, the magazine says. NS declined to comment on the report, saying the news was not due to be announced until Saturday, news agency ANP said.

No toilets on trains row rumbles on
www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/03/no_toilet_on_trains_row_rumble.php

The Hague, Rotterdam consider legal action to stop bus strike

www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/02/the_hague_rotterdam_consider_a.php

High-Speed train operator in financial trouble
www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/02/highspeed_train_operator_in_fi.php

Zuid-Holland Public Transport card switch delayed
www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/01/zuidholland_public_transport_c.php

NS to get sole responsibility for passenger information
www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/01/ns_to_get_sole_responsibility.php

No delay for public transport smartcard in Den Haag (The Hague)

www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/01/no_delay_for_public_transport.php

Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Haag (The Hague) public transport strike looms

www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/01/amsterdam_rotterdam_the_hague.php

ProRail chief steps down on health grounds
www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/01/prorail_chief_steps_down_on_he.php

Music on Brussels Metro

Commuters who use the Brussels metro system have more to contend with than busy escalators and carriages as pop songs are played across the stations' public address network.http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/world-europe-13080120 has details.

Ticket price cuts boost Fyra high-speed train service

Friday 01 April 2011Use of the high-speed train Fyra between Amsterdam and Rotterdam has more than doubled since the supplementary fee was slashed, according to NS figures. In the last quarter of 2010, 215,000 people used the train, but that rose to 550,000 in the first three months of 2011. In January, the supplement was scrapped altogether and in February and March it was cut from €6 to €2.10.In February, transport minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen warned the company charged with operating high speed trains in the Netherlands is in financial trouble and action needs to be taken to avoid bankruptcy.The company, High Speed Alliance, is 90% owned by the Dutch national railways NS and 10% by Air France-KLM. They won sole operating rights 10 years ago, well before the track was completed.
© DutchNews.nl

Update March 2011

OV Chipkaart

(public transport chip card) to be implemented across all public transport modes from 18th March 2011, with paper tickets to be gradually phased out - see
http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/03/public_transport_smart_card_in.php

Cable theft derails Ice

NS Hispeed operated ICE3 unit was derailed near Zevenaar whilst working a serice from Amsterdam to Cologne. The train colided with a freight operated by Ruhrtalbahn and derailed the last three wagons which were standing across points which were changed under the train for the ICE service. Apparenlty the signalling system did not detect the train and despite an emergency brake applicaiton the driuver of the ICE could not avaoid collision. Both train and track were serioulsy damaged with ther rapir bill put in excess of €1.00 million. The investigation has shown that the failure to detect the trtain was as a result of the theft of copper cabling which was done in such a way as it did not detect the train. Another set of points in the viciity were also found to have been tampered with. ProRail have suffered cable loss in excess of €10 million in 2010.

FYRA Extended

Services on hte HSL-Zuid from Amsterdam to Rotterdam ae to be extended to Breda from 4th April. Pending approval of the Ansaldo Breda V250 units, services will continue to be operated by TRAXX Class 186 locos but operating on 25kv and under ETCS Level 2

August 2010

Arriva

Arriva has won the concession for the line Zwolle – Emmen, a.k.a. as the “Vechtdallijn”. Recently Arriva placed an order for electric 6 Stadler GTW 2/6s and 8 Stadler GTW GTW 2/8s intended to work on this line. Workings with these EMUs should begin in December 2012. LINT 41 Light train DMUs will continue working between Almelo and Mariënberg.

Betuweroute

In the first quarter of 2010 4000 trains used the Betuweroute. In 2009 this figure was 2000. 4000 seems to be a lot but calculation shows that this comes down to about 45 trains per day (Approximately train per hour in each direction) including  the weekend. So it’s not that busy on the Betuweroute yet.
Trains to and from Amsterdam have also begun using the betuweroute now that the connection near Culemborg has been opened.

Accident at Stavoren

In the early morning of  July 25 2010 a SPENO engineerstrain ran through a buffer stop at the station of Stavoren. The train destroyed a shop as it parked itself on the sqaure behind the station. As by miracle nobody was seriously injured. An investigation as to the cause of the accident is underway.

RFF supports World Cup

Rotterdam Rail Feeding loco RRF18 has been given special orange marking to support the Dutch football team in its quest for the world championship.
NS also supported the Dutch team with the slogan “Yellow and Blue supports Orange”. On a number of passenger trains.

Acts Update

ACTS has sold its Class 1200 electric locos to some private owners, who, after the locos had been repaired, lease them to EETC (Euro Express Train Charter). EETC has recently been recognized as a railroad company and can now operate trains on their own. In this capacity EETC now performs shunting duties for DB Autozug between  Amsterdam CS and Watergraafsmeer yard.  DB Autozug runs several CityNightLine train to and from Amsterdam. Museumlocos 661 (British Class 08) and 2205 are used as back-ups.

Rolling Stock Update

All 4-car Plan T EMUs workings were scheduled to end on the 31st of July 2010.

All Benelux DVTs have been withdrawn since June 30th 2010.

Some former NS Class 3100/3200 DHMUs (a.k.a. as Wadloper) have began to work in Poland. They now have a light and dark grey livery and red doors. They’ve kept their original numbers.

4 More Class 189 locos will be fitted with automatic couplings for iron ore trains into Germany bringing the total to 22. In the future all iron ore trains will take the Betuweroute.

Connexxion will receive a sixth Protos EMU. The prototype which was stabled at Amersfoort
will be made ready for use at the factory in Dessau Germany.

 

Flirt EMU's approved for use in Netherlands

Eurobahn, the German operator of Flirt EMU's has received approval to use the 4 car units around Venlo. Services were supposed to start last December but the late approval has delayed this. Approval does not as yet cover the 5 car units.

ICE Trains to London?

German state operator DB has announced that it will be running an ICE 3 unit through the Channel Tunnel on over HS1 to St Pancras. This is to prove the fire evacuation safety case for the Tunnel. Currently this covers trains of 375m length whereas ICE units are only 200m. Relaxation of the rules over power systems has meant that for the first time distributed power trains such as ICE can be used. There is no real reason why shorter trains cannot use the tunnel safely, the argument being over the location of the cross passages into the service tunnel. Provided DB can prove the safety case for shorter trains, there is no reason why the Inter Governmental Commission such not relas the rules to permit ICE and similar units. The trial is thought likely to take place in October using the Class 406 ICE3M four voltage unit which is equipped with the TVM 430 signalling system necessary for theg French TGV, Channel Tunnel and HS1. If successful, it is through that trains will be composed of the new Class 407 Valero-D units currnelty under contstruction as these will have enhanced fire protection systems suitable for tunnel operation. DB is reported to be looking to serve London in time for the Olympics, the German teams using the service to travel to London. For normal service the current Cologne Brussels trains could be extended to London and there is also talk of Amsterdam -London services using DB stock.

In a separate move the Italian state operator Ternitalia has ordered a new fleet of 400kmph units from AnsaldoBreda and Bombardier based on a design used for Chinese High Speed projects. These will be fully interoperable and hints of an Italy - London service have been made.

Update June 2010

Fyra replacement

As you may know services on the High Speed Line (HSL) between Amsterdam and Rotterdam began in september 2009. Until the delivery of new hispeed EMUs Class 186 TRAXX locos and Prio-coaches will be used for these services. Prio-coaches are refurbished ICR-coaches which were originally used in the traditional Beneluxsets working between Amsterdam and Brussels. Today these refurbished coaches are used in both the Beneluxservices and the Hispeed services betweenAmsterdam and Rotterdam which are marketed under the name FYRA. The sets of coaches are similar with only one difference and that is that the sets used on the HSL carry FYRA markings.

Because of the new FYRA services there were no longer enough sets of coaches for the traditional beneluxservices and that's why the NMBS made two sets of coaches available. These sets consist of a mix of Belgian type I6 and I10 coaches. 

All Benelux workings are now hauled by either Belgian Class 28 locos or by NS Hispeed Class 186 Traxx locos which are technically identical and for technical reasonspush services are no longer possible. The DVTs are no longer used as such and are only used as coach. Only one has been given a Prio livery whereas the remainder of them still carry the old red and yellow livery. They will be scrapped as soon as there enough new EMUs for the HSL. By the way, NS Hispeed has leased the locos 2801 - 2803 from the NMBS.

Fyra services to Antwerp and Brussels will not commence before the end of 2011. Because of financial reasons the NMBS want to wait for the delivery of the new high speed units which are being build by Ansaldo in Italy. This is another setback for the whole Fyra project which has been suffering from all kinds of problems since the beginning. Ticket sales are also low as trains are only filled for about 15% of their capacity. This means that one loco and one or two coaches could accommodate the demand for seats. NS intends to extend the Amsterdam – Rotterdam service to Breda in the second half of this year and hopes that passenger number will go up then. As a consequence of all this the traditional beneluxtrains will remain in business for the time being.

By the beginning of May about 30 4-car  and about 30 6-car 60 SLT EMUs had been delivered. A relatively low percentage of them have entered service and can be seen working around Utrecht, Rotterdam and The Hague.

Arriva has won the 15 year consession for the line between Zwolle and Emmen and the line between Almelo and Marienberg. Services with new trains will begin in 2012 and 2013.As reported earlier Arriva also won the consessions for most of the lines which are currently run by Syntus and on which it intends to use new trains as well. One can wonder whether all these new trains can be delivered on time.

Because of the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland Queen Beatrix was forced to take the train for a visit to Denmark on April 15th. The royal coach was dragged away from the spoorweg museum in Utrecht where it was part of the exhibition “Royal Class” and  pressed into service in a matter of hours. That evening it was hooked on to CityNightLine 50447 together with a support coach after which the train left for Copenhagen. A few days later the royal party returned home, also by train. The royal coach returned to the exhibition in the  spoorwegmuseum.

More fall-out from the Icelandic ash cloud. As air traffic was halted for a couple of days golden times began for the railway companies. People were forced to take the train and someGV services could only meet the demand for seats when they were working in multiple. Surely a rare sight in The Netherlands.

There’s not enough employment for all the DM ’90 DMUs and the majority of them will be held in reserve.

Thalys 4535 has been given special “Tour de France” markings. The race will start in Rotterdam this year.18 DBSRN Class 189 electric locos will be made suitable to haul heavy iron ore trains from Rotterdam to Dillingen in Germany. They will get automatic coupling and a reinforced framework. Eventually all 6 daily workings will use the Betuweroute  with 2 locos working in multiple. Until recently these workings were in the hands of 3 Class 6400s which took the traditional route via Venlo where 2 German Class 151 electrics would take over.  

Update May 2010

Arriva will take delivery of eight extra  DMUs, 6  Stadler GTW 2/6 with the numbers 244, 247, 248, 249, 250 and 251 plus two Stadler GTW 2/8 with the numbers 345 aend 346.
Three are needed to provide extra capacity during rushhours whereas  four for will be needed for services on the line between Zuidbroek  and Veendam which will be re-opened  for passenger traffic next year. The last extra unit will be used between Leeuwarden and Sneek where there will be three instead of two workings per hour next year.

The electric locos 1826 and 1852 have been brought to the scrapdealer as have the locos 6415 and 6514. The last 2 locos where involved in the collision at Barendrecht in september last year.
All classic Class 1200 locos which have been working for ACTS have now been withdrawn. In october loco 1251 was banned from service after a technical failure. All locos will be used for preservation purposes. One or two will be restored and the others will be used to provide spare parts.

VIRM EMU 9524 has been given a pink/white livery to promote the so-called “OV-chipkaart”. This is an electronic card with which you can pay your fares and which also registrates where and at what time you have have been. Big Brother is also on the trains nowadays. Another disadvantage of this card is that you have to check in and out. If you forget to check out you will be charged extra and you will have to go through  a lot of trouble to get  a refund. A second pink/white VIRM EMU will enter service later this year.

All 3-car ICM EMUs have now been refurbished and refurbishment of the 4-car units is now underway.

As of the end of 2009 the private operators ITL Benelux, SNCF Benelux, R4C (rail4chem) and Veolia Cargo have merged and continue under the name Captrain Benelux. All specific markings on the locos will be replaced by Captrain markings.

As of 2012 Arriva will take over all services in the east of the country which are now in the hands of Syntus. All Lint Light train units will be replaced by 24 new DMUs, probably  13 Stadler GTW 2/6s and 11 GTW 2/8s. Arriva itself was taken over by the German DB in april. Maybe this will have consequences for  the livery of Arriva’s trains.

Update February 2010

Brussels Train Crash

Twenty people have been killed in a head-on crash between two commuter trains at rush hour, according to the mayor of a town outside Brussels.Dirk Pieters, the mayor of Buizingen, said: "The most recent information we have is that 20 people died."He said he had received the reports from emergency officials on the scene southwest of Brussels.The trains collided in snowy conditions in the commuter town around 8.30am (0730GMT) on Monday.Kristien Berckmans, a Belgian railways spokeswoman, said: "There was considerable damage and several people were injured."There was no immediate word on the cause of the crash.Railway authorities said the accident caused great damage to overhead power lines in the station.Rail traffic from Brussels to southwestern Belgium was halted.

Link to BBC Website for video

Update January 2010

Job Cuts at DB Schenker Rail Nederland

200 jobs are to go at DB Schenker Rail Nederland from the total workforce of 800, a 25% cut. This is due to the continuing effects of the recession and a decline of 25% in turnover and reports that the company is sustaining losses. The company does not expect a return to 2008 levels of profit and feels that this is too l;ong a period to keep on unnecesaary staff.

Prorail CO2 tender requirements

Prorail the national rail infrastructure operator has developed a CO2 performance indicator that is now a mandatory part of tender procedures. The principle is that the lower the proposed level of CO2 in any contract the more likely the company will win it. A tenderer has to lodge a CO2 awareness certificate which is granted by a certifying body. It remains to be seen whether this will result in a tender awarded against a much cheaper price!

HSL-Zuid Speeds

On 13th December 2009, the ETCS system on the high speed line was switched on for Level 2 and the first Thalys train from Masterdam centraal to Paris was allowed to run up to its designed 300kmph spped. It was reported that the train reached 285kmph. Following this trail the system was switched back to Level 1 and a 160kmph spped reimposed. This test followed a similar one on 12th December during which a Thalys set ran at the higher speed. The southern section of the line between Rotterdam and the border the full 300kmph spped is allowed and the transition problems that had plagued cross border workings have been resolved.

Update October 2009

Northern Section of Dutch HSL Opens

The long delayed Dutch high speed line from Schipol to Amsterdam partially opned on 7th September 2009 when services began between Schipol and Rotterdam.

The purpose built FYRA units also known as Albatross are still not delviered and these 156mph units will not be in service until at least June 2010. In hte intermim period loco hauled operation has been instigated using 12 NS HiSpeed quadri voltage TRAXX Bo-Bo locos (Nos 186-111 - 122) leased from Angel workiong with refurbished IC Benelux coaches operating at only 100mph. The new line is electrified at 25kv ac whilst the Dutch classci network is 1500v dc. Supplements are payable in addition to the normal ticket price.

Seventeen hourly pairs of trains are operating between Amsterdam to Rotterdam with a stop at Schipol with journey times from Schipol to Rotterdam reduced from 43 minutes to 26 minutes. When the new Albatross and Thalys units start operating at sppeds of up to 300kmph, journey times are expected to reduce still further.

It appears that passenger numbers initially were very low mainly due to difficulties in buying a ticket as well as a lack of passenger information.ON top of this a strike by NS Hi-Speed conductors working on hte Amsterdam - Brussels route halted services in a dispute over manning. These trains are to go over to single manning as staff are redeployed onto Fyra services.

Thalys services are expected to operate from December 2009.

TRAXX Locos to take over Amsterdam IC Services

SNCB Cargo TRAXX electric (SNCB Class 28) are to be redeployed on the Amsterdam - Brussells services as the downturn in rail freight sees resources under utilised.They will take over from the NS Class 186 locomotives (see item above) whcih are currently used on the services. Services started on September 2nd increasing as more locos were diagrammed. SNCB Class11.8 locomotives will also supplement the Class 28's but only until the December timetable change. Up to 9 Class 28's from a pool of 16 will be used from the class total of 43. Reveral at Anterp is no longer necessary following the opening of the underground through lines whcih means that the unreliable push-pull driving trailers are not required.

Amsterdam Introduces Smart Card

The Dutch national smart card, the OV-Chipkaart was introduced on the Amsterdam Metro from 27th August having been in use in Rotterdam since January 2009. The system is now closed requiring passengers to touch in and touch out, siumilar to the Oyser system in London. The system then calcualates the fare and deducts it from the card or from the holders bank account. The Strippenkaart is now now longer valid on the Amsterdam metro.

Collision at Barendrecht

On September the 24th at around 22.30 a DBSRN  train from Onnen to Kijfhoek collided head-on with an ERS train from Kijfhoek to Bad Bentheim right under the fly-over of the A15 motorway near Barendrecht. Sadly enough, the DBSRN driver was killed and the other one critically injured. A passing DD-AR set was hit by flying debris and the driver of an oncoming international passenger train to Brussels headed by B-Cargo loco 2835 prevented further disaster by making an emergency stop when he saw sparks flying at the spot of the accident. The train did hit a piece of debris but this caused no major damage although some passengers may have been slightly injured.

The DBSRN (formerly known as Railion) train consisted of around ten tankwagons filled with natural gas products and the locos 6415 and 6514. Loco 6415 was severely damaged but loco 6514 was totally destroyed. The ERS train with loco 6616 in charge was a Freightliner with about 23 wagons. Some wagons of both trains derailed but none of them leaked or caught fire.
In the aftermath of this accident 2 Leopard engineers tanks of the army were used during the salvage operations because tall cranes could not be used as all the wreckage of the trains was stuck under the fly-over.
Needless to say that train services around Barendrecht were severely disrupted for several days.

Although the cause of the accident has not yet been established it is likely that one of the
drivers ran through a red signal. This being the 4th major accident in one year regulator Prorail reacted by cautioning the freight operators to use better and safer equipment within 3 months or they would be banned from the tracks.

Interestingly in this light is the fact that the driver who ran through a red signal in Arnhem on November 21st 2006 and so causing a collission with a passenger train was recently acquitted in court because the judge ruled that the signal was situated at such a poor spot that the driver was not to blame. In his judgement he also weighed the fact that this signal was near a similar signal that is number one on the list of most passed red signals in the country.
All around the country there seem to be signals that are situated at illogical spots or which are difficult to see and the courts ruling was therefore applauded in the train drivers community.  
This ruling gives a strong signal to Prorail that safety is not only a matter of the train drivers
and that Prorail also has a responsibility of its own.

Update July 2009

HSL news

NS HiSpeed, Prorail and the Ministry of Transportation have at last given the go-ahead for revenue-earning services on the High Speed Line (HSL) between Amsterdam and Belgium. As of September 7th a 1 hourly service will begin between Amsterdam and Rotterdam with stock consisting of TRAXX locos and Prio-coaches. These coaches are refurbished ICR-coaches that could be seen in the Benelux-sets working between Amsterdam and Brussels. Until September they can still be seen there. In the last couple of years they have all changed their red/yellow livery for a white/pink/red candy cane livery, except for the DVTs of these sets, which with the exception of one, have kept their old colours. These DVTs will probably not go to the HSL. The configuration of the first trains on the HSL will probably be 1 TRAXX loco in front, 6 or 7 Prio coaches, and 1 TRAXX loco at the rear of the train which will be the lead loco on the return journey. The speed of these trains will be 160 kph, 30 kph faster than on the traditional line and taking 20 minutes of the present journey time.

These TRAXX sets will stay in service until the first newly built High Speed Trains become available. Two of these sets have been delivered and are now undergoing trials on the traditional lines and on the HSL. The new trains will become available for commercial service in the second half of 2010 provided everything goes according to plan. At first these trains were nicknamed ’Albatros’ but have now officially been given the name FYRA, which in English is pronounced as ‘feara’.  In Europe we already had high speed trains like the TGV, Eurostar, ICE, Thalys and soon we’ll have FYRA.  
NS Hispeed has ordered 16 FYRA EMUs and the NMBS 3 bringing the total to 19. Apparently FYRA means four in Swedish and thus expresses the way the new trains will link 4 of the most important Benelux cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp and Brussels. A new web site www.fyra.com will proviude access to tickets.

As of the December of this year there will be changes to services of the Thalys trains working between Amsterdam and Paris. Between Amsterdam and Rotterdam they will remain using the same traditional lines but at a higher speed, 160 kph instead of 130 kph. Between Rotterdam and Antwerp they will use the HSL and reach a speed of 300 kph. Between Antwerp and Brussels they will go 160 kph once more.

If a planned service from Brussels to Den Haag goes ahead, consideration is being given to increasing the SNCB order to 4 making a total of 19 units.

traxx

Traxx locos on HSL Test - Photo by Henk Hartsuiker

Traxx2

More EMU's for CFL

Luxembourg Railways CFL and French Railways SNCF have exercised the final option on an order for 14 three car TER2N NG Coradia Duplex doublr decker EMU's from Bombardier and Alstom. 10 of the units are for CFL and the remainder will go to SNCF. The new trains will be deliverd in 2010 and cost £95million.

Second Albatross Unit Arrives

The second of the AnsaldoBreda high speed V250 EMU's has arrived in Watergraafsmeer depot on 12th May. No test runs have been reported. The units are owned by NS Financial Services and will enter service on HSL.

Hanzelijn Update

Earthworks are well underway on the Hanzelijn between Zwolle and Lelystad. The tunnel works under the Drontermeer waterway came in November 2008. A consortium of construction companies consisting of Strukton, VolkerRail, Alstom and Arcadis are building the line under the name of HamzaRailTeam with whom a contract was agreed on 16th May with ProRail. Services on the new line are expected to start in December 2012. The line is to be equipped with ECTS Level to as well as the Durch ATB level 2. Alstom will be installing the ECTS under a €170m deal.

Belgian High Speed Network Completed

HSL3 was inaugurated by Infrabel, the SNCB infrastructure owneron 12th June 2009. HSL3 links Liege with the German border and as a result trains between Liege and Cologne have been accelerated by 22 minutes - down to 61 minutes from 83 minutes. Trains leave the old route at Chenee and run through the Somagne tunnel which is 6.6km long, the longest on the Belgian network. The liune then runs parallel with the E40 road to Walhorn and rejoins the old line near Hammerbruke where it continues to the German border. Speeds are 16okm/h to Chenee, 200km/h through the Somagne tunnel and then 260km/h for the rest of the line. Construction by TUC Rail commenced in 2001.

Update June 2009

Class 22 Electrics Withdrawn

SNCB withdrew the remaining Class 22 electrics in June after 50 years in service.Their duties on peak hour passenger trains have been taekn over by the slightly younger Class 23's which date from 195-57! This is however only a temporary arrangement as brand new Desiro EMU's are on order for these serivces. Fifty Class 22 machines were introduced from 1953 for the first big electrification post war project which saw lines from Brussels to Gent and Liege electrified.

New Open Access Operator

Rotterdam Rail Feeding has met all the conditions set down by Infrabel for open access opertions to commence. Operations are however restricted to Essen - Antwert - Gent - Zeebrugge line services and in the yards at Antwerp, Gent and Zeebrugge.

V250 High Speed Train Arrives

The prototype V250 High Speed train built by AnsaldoBreda for operation on the High Speed Lines in the Netherlands and Belgium was del;ivered to Watergraafsmeer yard in Amsterdam after having spent 13 months at the Velim test track in the Czech Republic.

Update January 2009

Loco rotations

On November 11th ERS Railways received 3 Class 189 electric loco’s  which until september worked for Railion. They are 189 091,  098 and 099. The loco’s now have the black housecolours of their owner MRCE as has loco 189 097 which also entered service with ERS railways but which hasn’t worked for Railion. Meanwhile ERS has returned the loco’s 6601, 6602 and 6603 to their owner CBRail which now leases them to the French company SNCF Fret Benelux.
SNCF Fret Benelux now uses these locos for coal workings out of Born in the south of the country together with 2 Vossloh G 2000BB loco’s.
ERS loco 6609 has lost her company markings and will probably be the next one to be returned to its owner. It is expected that ERS will change all its diesel loco’s for electric loco’s before long.

ACTS

Now working for ACTS are 189 096  (lease).
                                            Class 66 MRCE  513-9
                                            Class 66 MRCE  561-4  (still sporting DLC’s  DE 6304 markings)
                                            Class 66 MRCE  653-4

The Railion Class 1600 loco’s  1606, 1607, 1608, 1609, 1610, 1617, 1618, 1619, 1620 and 1621 have been sold to ACTS. It is expected that not all of these machines will be returned 
to service. Some will be used for spares to  keep the others running.
The 1600s will most likely replace the older Class 1200s and the British Class 58s (alas).

The DHMU wadlopers units which have been phased out about 2 years ago may escape the torch of the scrapdealer. A Polish party may buy all of them.
The ones that have been sold to an Albanian party are still waiting on the qauy in Rotterdam
because of payment issues.

Sources: Internet and Rail magazine 260

acts

Acts 5812 at Leeuwarden December 2008 - Photo by Henk Hartsuiker

UpdateOctober 2008

Airline companies Air France and KLM may began international hispeed passenger train services in co-operation with
Veolia. The airlines already buy seats on existing international services but are not satisfied with the quality. The trains could replace connecting shorthaul flights in the future. As from 2010 new European legislation should make it possible for private companies to operate passenger trains on international routes.

The Railion locos 1606, 1609 and 1619 are now in service with ACTS. Because of the influx of Class 189 locos Railion no longer has use for all their Class 1600 locos which entered service between 1980 and 1983. The ACTS 1600s still carry their Railion livery. There are reports that ACTS has taken over at least 10 Class 1600s from Railion but these reports have not been confirmed.

ACTS has taken delivery of the locos 7108, 7109 and 7110, all Vossloh G1206s. 7108 has a green/grey livery, 7109 carries portfeeder livery whereas 7110 is MRCE black. 7110 was formerly used by Rail4Chem where it carried the number 1203. Recently ACTS took over a number of duties from Railion concerning the transport of household waste from various collection points in The Netherlands to Wijster in the north of the country where the waste is processed.

Rail4Chem, originally owned by 3 German and 1 Swiss company, has been taken over by French owned Veolia Transport and will be incorporated into Veolia Cargo. Whether or not the Rail4Chem locos will keep their present livery is still unknown at this moment. The take-over was announced last February.

The Belgian Company DLC, which operates 17 Class 66s for Freightliner services has been taken over by the Swiss company Crossrail as of August 1st . DLC will continue under the name Crossrail Benelux. The merger will enable Crossrail to drive their trains directly from the Benelux through Germany and Switzerland to Italy.

In May NS took delivery of the first of 51 V-IRM-IV  Doubledecker EMUs numbered 9547 – 9597. These EMUs differ from their sister units in that they have blue and red seats in the second and first class compartments respectively, just like the refurbished ICM EMUs. The elevators for small catering trolleys, present in earlier versions,  have been left out so that the staircases could be made wider. In the first class there are reading lights and sockets for laptops. The units are intended to replace loco-hauled ICK-stock. Loco 1841 has already been sidelined and the 1842 and 1843 have been nominated to follow.

DD-IRM New

NS DDIRM No 9552 at Meppel. The unit is brand new and beleived to be en-route to Onnen - Photo by Henk Hartsuiker

The Traxx locos 186 119, 186 120 and 186 121 have been made available for service between Brussels and Amsterdam. This has become necessary because the Begian Class 11.8 locos are suffering from a lack of maintenance and consequently fail regularly which has led to the cancellation of services in some cases. As you may know the Benelux-sets now consist of refurbished ICR-coaches which have been renamed as Prio-coaches and which have been given candy cane colours. The DVTs in the sets however remain unchanged and keep their yellow/red livery.

Rotterdam Rail Feeding (RRF) has taken over 4 Class 73 shunters from B-Cargo. The locos 7382, 7394, 7391 and 7395  have been given the green/yellow RFF livery and have been renumbered into RRF 101, RRF 102, RF 103 and RF 104. The American company Genesee & Wyoming took over RRF in april and because the company has the ambition to grow internationally it was decided to drop the local designation in the company’s name which has now been changed from Rotterdam Rail Feeding into Rail Feeding. The name change is already reflected in the numbering of the last 2 locos acquired by the company, RF 103 and RF 104. (R)RF has also taken an option on the locos 7392, 7390, 7383 and 7378.      

 

September 2008

Spot the Difference!

icm differences

The photo above which was submitted by Henk Hartsuiker shows units 4031 and 4057 at Meppel on 18th September 2008. The comparison is interesting since it shows the modifications to the IC3 units that has resulted in removal of the inter-unit gangways.

August 2008

Delft Plans Go Ahead

A long standing feature of the centre of Delft has been the somewhat noisy railway viaduct running through the town centre. In a long planned move agreement has been reached between central and local governmetn on a €350m scheme to bury the line underground. This development will provide a 4 track tunnel to repalce the 2 track viaduct which will be removed. A new station will be located underground and works will start in 2009 with the first two tracks being opened in 2013, the other two in 2020. Around 350 trains use the viaduct everyday and the new tunnel will solve the current capacity problems.

Arriva orders another GTW

Arriva Nederalnd has ordered a further Stadler GTW DMU for work on the north Netherlands lines - specifically from Leeuwarden to Sneek where the service is being improved to one train every 20 minutes as a result of a €6m set of infrastructure works by Prorail to creat additonal capacity at Sneek. The new DMU is needed for the start of services in 2009. One train every hour will run trhought to Stavoren.

Traxx locos start work on Benelux services

traxx

Traxx loco E 186 121 with 7 Prio coaches passing Abcoude station. This was probably a trial run.The term Prio coach is now used for the refurbished Benelux-coaches which used to have a yellow/red livery. Four locos are beleived to be in service as reserves for failed SNCB Class 1100 which have become exceedingly unreliable. It appears that the TRAXX locos are not compatible with the Benelux driving trailers which accordingly have not been included in hte sets necessitating a run round at each end of the journey. These locos and coaching sets will also work on the new HSL (if it opens soon) pending delivery of the new HSL Beneulx stock and which are currently being built in Italy - see below. Photo by Henk Hartsuiker.

albatross

This photo shows the first of what are to be known as Albatross EMU's which are being built by Breda for service on the new HSL between Amsterdam and Brussells and Amsterdam and Breda. These trains will replace the dedicated Benelux stock and locos.

Update June 2008

In May the first of 3 Veolia Class 189s was spotted in The Netherlands. They have the number 189-093, 189-094 and 189-095. The loco are leased from MRCE and carry the housecolours of Veolia.

CTL is a large Polish transport company which began operations in The Netherlands at the end of May. The company transports coal via the Betuweroute from De Maasvlakte to destinations in Germany and Austria. The trains are hauled by loco 189 928 which carries black CTL colours but which is leased from MRCE.

Contrary to an earlier report loco 6464 has not been sold but leased to the German company RBH (RAG Bahn un Hafen vertriebsgesellschaft).

At the end of june ITL has taken delivery of its 4th Class 186 electric loco. It carries the number 142. 

Quite a few Class 189s carry the phrase “ES 64 F4” on their fronts. This stands for
EuroSprinter, 6400 kilowatt, Freight,  4 systems or voltages.

Maxima undergoing trials. No, this isn’t about the Dutch crown princess but about a new locomotive built by the German company Voith, the Maxima 40. Advertised as the strongest single engined diesel hydraulic loco in the world it came to The Netherlands for trials in may. Voith tries to break open the diesel locomotive market in Europe which is now dominated by Vossloh with its G1206s and G2000s and by GM  EMD with its Class 66s. To this purpose Voith has developed a whole line of locomotives varying from 6-axled locos to 2-axled locos. In the future more Voith locos are expected in The Netherlands for additional trials. Orders for the Maxima 40 stand at 77 although no orders have yet been noted for Benelux customers.

maxima

maxima side

Old trains and new trains.

Sooner or later it will happen. Old trains will be replaced by new ones and in the coming year we’ll see some significant changes in the kinds of rolling stock operating in The Netherlands.
It is expected that ACTS will withdraw its Class 1200 electrics and Class 6700 diesels this year. They will be replaced by 4 Class 1600s (1611-1614?) which will be taken over from Railion. A consequence of the withdrawal of the 2 classes is that only the locos 5811 and 5812 will have the original ACTS livery of yellow and blue. ACTS’ remaining main line locos have either a light green/grey livery or the so-called “portfeeder” livery.
The NMBS plans to withdraw its Class 25.5 electrics some time this year. These locos can still be seen on the line Kijfhoek – Roosendaal – Antwerp but will be replaced by Class 77 diesels. As you may know Kijfhoek is the name of the huge marshalling yard south of Rotterdam.
Around december 2007 Class 189 electrics invaded The Netherlands taking away a lot of 
duties from the Class 1600 electrics and the Class 241 diesels. Although the 241s still have
a number of duties one can only wonder for how long.  The 1600s will probably be around
a but longer, but you never know.  
On the passengers front the imminent withdrawal of the Plan T 4-car EMUs  (501-531) has to be mentioned. along with their 2-car Plan V counterparts they will be replaced by 99 Sprinter
Light Trains, SLTs,  which will come in 4-car and 6-car variants numbered 24xx and 26xx.
In its infinite wisdom NS has decided not to fit these SLTs with toilets because travellers are not likely to spend much time in the trains as they will only be used for short hauls. Another advantage of not having toilets on board is that you don’t have to clean them which will save costs. On top of that a toilet wouldn’t fit in the design of the train which for safety
reasons has to be totally “see-through” along its length. As you can imagine this has led to
strong protests from travellers but like many large companies NS will probably get away with ignoring the wishes of its customers.
Arriva has taken delivery of its first 4 EMUs (501-504). They are Stadler GTW 2/8 and 2/6 and are similar to those used on the diesel lines in the north of the country with this difference that they are driven electrically. They will be used between Dordrecht and Geldermalsen where they will replace Plan V EMUs rented from NS. The same story can be told about Veolia which will also be using Stadler GTW EMUs (75XX). They will be deployed in the deep south of the country between Maastricht and Heerlen and to Kerkrade also replacing Plan V units rented from NS.
 
Those of you who would like to photograph the old rolling stock mentioned here are advised to come to The Netherlands now before it’s too late.

 

Update May 2008

The French company Veolia Cargo will take over the German company Rail4Chem.
It is not yet known what the consequences will be for the liveries of Rail4Chem’s
locomotives.

Railion loco 6464 has been sold to the German copany RBH (RAG Bahn und Hafen               
Vertriebsgesellschaft).

SNCF Fret has stopped operations in The Netherlands. The French company used 2 
unmarked Vossloh G2000 locos on Freightliners to France.

ITL is now active with 7 locos. Three Class186 electric locos numbered 148 – 150
and 4 V100 diesellocos numbered 101 – 104. Most workings are from Rotterdam
and Amsterdam to Germany via Emmerich.

Two Class 189 electric locos can be seen working in multiple between Amsterdam –
Arnhem and Germany.  

As of March 26th 3 SGM-II 2-car Sprinter EMUs have returned from Randers in
Denmark after having been refurbished. They received the same blue/yellow/white
livery as their 3-car sister EMUs which already had been refurbished.
The 3 units received new number: 2133 (was 2023)
2141 ( was 2031)
2145 ( was 2035)

The Wadloper 2-car units 3222 and 3226 have been sold to an Albanian company.
It’s likely that at least 2 1-car units will follow
.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Update April 2008

Thalys faster to Cologne and Amsterdam

2008 will hopefully see the completion of both the HSL to Amsterdam and that from Brussels to the German Border. The former was supposed to have opened in 2005 but there have been numerous delays including the decision by the Netherlands authoriteis to instal ETCS Level 2 rather than any of the other proven in-cab signal systems such as TVM 430. As a result it has been necessary to equip the Thalys trainsets with this equipment. SNCF has fitted 33 sets of TGV Reseau stock with ETCS Level 2 for TGV Est and hopes to complete sufficeint Thalys sets by the end of the year to allow services to commence. If this does indeed happen journey times from Paris to Amsterdam will fall from 4hr 10 mins to 3 hrs 13 mins and the number of services increased to 10 each day. These will be complemented by the introduction of accelerated inter-city services between Brussels and Amsterdam.

TGV services to Cologne will be reduced from 3hrs 51mins to 3hrs 14mins on opening of the HSL East line and increased from 6 to 7 each day. These will be complemented by 3 ICE services between Brussels and Cologne.

Wind Power in Belgium

Infrabel has announced that it is to install a wind farm of up to 20 turbines alongside Line 36 between Leuven and Liege and also Line 21 between Landen and Hasselt

Rail4Chem Sold

The french transport company Veolia have purchased the Rail4chem business which operates in several countries including the Netherlands.

ETCS Issues

Modifications are to be made to locomotives that have been equipped for ETCS Level 2 for operation in the Netherlands since probelms have occurred with operation on the havenlijn and Betuweroute,both of which are in part fitted with ETCS level 1. The probelms seem to surround the on board equipment in which level 1 is not available or has not been activated and this will lead to a return to supliers or workshops to enable modification works to be completed following which drivers will have to be retrained and the system certified for a second time. As a result of this the ntroduction of new signalling arrangements and the introduction of 25kv on the Havenlijn has been postponed to the end of 2008. There are also reports of incompatability between differnt manufacturers systems which is precislely the sort of thing EU standard ETCS was supposed to prevent!

HSA and ITL take TRAXX locos

Class 186 locomotives have been supplied by Angel Trains for operation over the new HSL and pending its opening on the conventional Benelux route. Testing began in February prior tio expected introduction in March with the full service being opearted by the locos in July. This is despite full certification for operation not having been obtained for operation on NS metals. Reports have suggested that Infrabel, the belgina infrastructure operator may cerify once Dutch approval has bene gained. ITL Benelux took delivery of its first TRAXX class 186 and this has started revnue freight working in the Netherlands on the basis of a declaration of no objection which is valid for the conventional Dutch network but not for HSL or the Betuweroute which uses ETCS level 2. Apparently the when on the conventional network the locomotives use the ATB-STM of the on-board ETCS equipment.

February 2008

Construction Hanzelijn Underway.

More than one year ago now, on January 30th 2007, construction of the Hanzelijn began.
This is a new railway line between Zwolle and Lelystad, the city named after professor
Lely who was the driving force behind and designer of the giant waterworks  in the former
Zuiderzee, now known as IJsselmeer,  such as the Afsluitdijk and polders. The new line will
be 50 kilometers long  and should make journeys from the 2 northern cities Leeuwarden
and Groningen to  Amsterdam 20 minutes faster than the time required now. The line will also
take the pressure from the busy traditional line between Hilversum, Amersfoort and Zwolle. The capacity
created on both lines can now be used for freight trains which were originally expected to take the
cancelled northern branch of the freight dedicated Betuwelijn. Near Biddinghuizen a siding has
been planned for freight trains, 35 of which are expected to pass daily. The line will be made suitable
for speeds of upto 200 kph but trains are not expected to go that fast at first and speeds of 160 kph are more likely because existing rolling stock doesn’t go any faster. Opening of the hanzelijn has been planned for 2013.
The change of a delay in the opening of the line is not great because traditional and proven technology
will be used. This wasn’t the case with the Betuwelijn and the High Speed Line  (HSL) between Brussels and
Amsterdam where the introduction of modern technology has led to serious delays in the opening of the former and postponement of opening of the latte
r
.

map

Update January 2008

AM54's in Italy

Two Belgian Type AM54 2 car EMU's have gone into service on the Modena - Sassuolo line for ATCM of Modena Italy. These units were delivered in 2005 but have not hitherto been used.

SNCB Class 11 for withdrawal?

There are concerns for the 12 dual voltage Class 11 electric locos currently working the Amsterdam - Brussells services and which are becoming increasingly unreliable. Because of this one pair of afternoon trains has been permanently cancelled and failures are affectuing the rest of the service whcih in any event should have been replaced by services over the new Hi Speed HSL. Pending delivery of thee new trains TRAXX Class 186 locos were supposed to have taken over but with continuing delays to the line this has not happened. Severla locos have been delivered to both Antwerp and Amsterdam but have yet to work trains in servce. Because of thee unrelaibility of the Class 11 locos, it is beleived that withdrawal is beuing considered oncve they have been replaced.

SNCB Orders new Stock

A €211m contract has been signed with Siemens for the delivery of 60 multisystem ES60 U3 locomotives based on the Austrian OBB 1216 class with delivery expected in 2009. SNCB is also reciving deliveries of new M6 style driving trailers - 30 are on order. Until these are in service many trains are having to be topped and tailed to maintain tight turnrounds.

Update December 2007

Railion Class 189

The freight company Railion plans to commence cross border operations between the Netherlands and Germany soon using Siements built Class 189 multi-voltage locomotives. certification of the ES64 F$ machines for operation on NS is expected before this can start.

26 locomotives will be available for services in and out of the Netherlands with most of the operations expected to be over the Betuweroute between the German border and Kijfhoek yard. The 25Kv was expected to be enregised by November. Currently Railion cannot operate on the Betuweroute as it has no locomotives fitted wtih ETCS level 2. The calss 189 will use the conventional 1.5kv when on the rest of the NS network. The class is also fitted with STM-ATB, the NS train protection system.

The introduction of class 189 will enable Railion to commence fitting ETCS Level 2 to its class 6400 locomotives

More DB Coaches for NS

In a bid to cope with rising numbers of passengers, NS is to increase its fleet of leased DB coaches to 106 rom 50. All caoches are expected to be in service by the end of 2007. The stock concerned is the former 200km/h InterRegio material with 80 type BIM vehicles, 12 type Bimd and 14 type Aim. NS are relivering the coaches to the NS blue/yellow which gives and indication that this is not simply a short term hire. In addition some dorr modifications are to be carried out on the Bimd to provide easier access for wheelchairs. A Dutch closing and locking system is to be installed and the carpets replaced by rubber mats. Other modifications involve removal of the axle generators and repalcemet by a static transformer.

The coaches are already in use on the Amsterdam Centraal to Deventer route and will also be introduced on the Den Haag to Arnhem services as deilveries increase.

HSL - Zuid - yet more delays

Domestic services on HSL Zuid which were due to be introduced on 9th December 2007 have been postponed again. At the time this news was announced a firm date had not been provided. This further delay seems to be as a result of problems in certification of the ETCS, approval and certification of the Bombardier TRAXX multi-voltage class 186 locomotives and the dust problem in the Groen Hart tunnel. Indications have been given to HSA, the consortium operting the high sped services between the Netherlands and other parts of Europe, that the anticipated October 2008 start date may also be at risk. A 26 week test period has to be completed before services can strat which means that full certification and sign off for the route and stock must be complted by 1st April 2008 which is looking unlikely. As a result compensation will be payable to HSA from the Dutch Government, a sum of €37m is to be paid representing the period 1st April 2007 to 1st October 2008.

New Names for Stadler Railcars

The Stadler class 200 diesel railcars used by Arriva on regional lines have been given the name 'Spurt'

Update November 2007

Angel Trains and the Belgian NMBS have signed a 10-year contract for the lease of 40 Multi-system TRAXX locomotives.The locos will be used on freight train to Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands and Austria and will be delivered in 2008 and 2009.see also www.angeltrains.co.uk

Update October 2007

Locomotive 1838 has been scrapped in August 2007. In was involved in an accident at
Amsterdam CS on May 21st 2004 and was damaged beyond repair.

On October 9th 2007 the first of the Electric Class 189 locomotives for Railion in The Netherlands was introduced to the public during the VRACHT84NL exhibition at the Spoorwegmuseum in Utrecht. The locos are intended for service on the freight dedicated Betuweline and are able to work under four different voltages enabling them to work in 26 European countries. Of the 90 Class 189s owned by Railion 26 will become available for service on the Betuweline in the months of November and December.
Until now there have been many teething problems since the line was opened in June 2007 and it wouldn’t be a big surprise if the introduction of the first electric locos on the line would come with its own set of problems.

The opening of the High Speed Line between Amsterdam - Rotterdam - Breda and Antwerp has once again been postponed, this time at least until October 2008. The Minister of Transportation refused permission to begin services because the line doesn’t have a safety certificate yet and because the locos hadn’t the right version of a safety-system installed. HSA (High Speed Alliance), the company that will be operating on the line, has been given a compensation of  € 37.500.000 for the loss of income due to the delay of the opening of the line, a.k.a. HSL-zuid.

The first of 35 new sprinter EMUs built by Siemens and Bombardier in Krefeld (G) rolled out of the factory in September. The order for these units, 18 4-car units and 17 6-car units was placed in 2005. Originally the units were meant as replacements for the ageing Plan V and Plan T units but now they are presented as extra capacity because passenger numbers are  growing each year. In the last two and a half year the number of passengers rose by 12%. The new units will have a livery similar to the existing sprinters, white, yellow and blue. They will get air-conditioning and lots of doors so passengers can get in and out quickly. The height of the floors will be the same as the height of the platforms for easy access. On the same day that the first unit rolled out of the factory NS converted an option of 64 more units into a firm order costing  € 399.000.000 . This batch will exist of  32 4-car and 32 6-car units. Because the need for the new trains is so great NS has negotiated a speedy delivery of the new trains. They should all be in service by the end of 2011.  With the delivery of the first unit a period of training, testing and trials and certifications will begin which will at least last one year. What will happen with the Plan V and Plan T units is unclear. My guess is that they will still be needed to deal with the expected growth of the numbers of passengers. Another possibility is that some of them will be leased to other operators as more lines will be opened for bidding.   

Recently there have been trials with so-called  “long heavy lorries’ in The Netherlands and Germany. These are lorries with a maximum weight of 60 tons and a maximum length of 25.5 meters. One of the advantage of these lorries is that they can move more freight  than ordinary lorries at little extra cost. Two long heavy lorries can replace three traditional lorries which would help ease congestion problems on the roads and help solve environmental problems.  Despite all this the German government has decided not to allow these new lorries on its roads and put all its cards on freight trains instead. In the Netherlands the lorries will be restricted to carry only 50 tons. They will also be confined to a limited number of roads .

For us railway enthousiasts this means that a serious competitor of rail transport is  ‘out of the way’ and we can spot more freight trains in the future

 

Update September 2007

Undercover inspectors on trains

19 September 2007

GRONINGEN The province of Groningen is going to put undercover inspectors on board trains, not to check up on passengers, but rather to investigate whether complaints about overcrowded trains operated by Arriva in Groningen are justified. A spokesperson for the province said this on Wednesday. Until now inspectors were mainly deployed to check for tickets. Groningen now wants to put its own inspectors on board to solve problems on the trains.
Overloaded trains are a major problem, especially from Nieuweschans to Groningen and from Delfzijl to Groningen. The province has received complaints from passengers that there are sometimes no seats available and that trains are sometimes so full that they skip stations.
"If that really is the case, it is unacceptable. But we want to first investigate if this is true. After that we will consult Arriva about a solution," the spokesperson said.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2007]

Antwerp-Amsterdam Thalys in 2009

12 September 2007

BRUSSELS

The first full fledged Thalys high speed train to connect Paris with Amsterdam via Antwerp will most likely not be running until
2009. The rail company NMBS has said this in response to renewed infrastructure problems in the Netherlands.

The Dutch railways (NS) has submitted a claim to the government for damages reaching into the tens of millions of euro because the government seems unable to construct the high speed rails on time.

The high speed train between Paris and Amsterdam should have been in service for a year already, according to the original plans. But one problem after another has delayed the introduction. An official Dutch source says that the plan is to have the high speed line ready by 1 October 2008, but that no one really believes that deadline will be met.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

NS hires in extra intercity trains

14 September 2007

UTRECHT

The Dutch Railways NS has once again ordered in new equipment to accommodate the growth in the number of travellers in the Netherlands. 104 intercity carriages have been ordered for rental from rail companies abroad.

Ten carriages have also been taken over from NS International. Sixty extra carriages were put on the tracks this month; by the end of the year they should all be in use, primarily on the routes Deventer-Amersfoort-Amsterdam and Arnhem-Utrecht-The Hague.

The extra carriages will increase the number of seats available on the NS trains to 256,000 by the end of this year. NS trains had a total of 240,000 seats in December last year.The extra capacity is sorely needed. The number of train passengers has been rising steadily since 2005. The NS transports more than 1.1 million passengers each day and all reserves are being drawn on in an effort to reduce the number of overloaded trains. The railway company has been working the past few years to replace
carriages. At the moment NS has some EUR 700 million outstanding for
new intercity and local trains.

The cabinet wants public transport to grow by 5 percent annually. The Dutch Railways play an important role in this ambition.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2007]


Update August 2007

Problems with the Betuwelijn.

Since the opening of the Betuwelijn on June 16th until the 1st of August only about 25 commercial trains have used the new freight line. This was due to problems with the “European Train Control System”. Locomotives didn’t communicate well enough with the tracks which resulted in trips lasting 3,5 hours longer as planned.  On top of that maintenance work on the German side of the line caused capacity problems.  Halfway into July com-mercial services were halted altogether after which only testtrains ran. In August commercial services were resumed albeit at a trickle.
Photographers interested in the Betuwelijn may try the viaduct just outside sliedrecht station which is about 10 to 15 minutes away by train from Dordrecht station.  I recommend you go on a cloudy day as your camera will be facing south against the light. Photographers must bear in mind that there are soundbarriers along long stretches of the Betuwelijn  making photography difficult.
.

 

New footbridge at Rotterdam CS

A new footbridge running across all the tracks at Rotterdam station opened in July. It offers new possibilities for photographers if they happen to be at the right place at the right time. Let’s just hope nobody will fall off or be pushed off from the new passage.  Such incidents will certainly trigger new safety measures such as higher fences.

bridge CS

July 2007


AMSTERDAM (AP) - Seventeenth-century masons built Amsterdam on a foundation of wooden poles planted in soggy, sandy ground, leaving behind a beautiful architectural museum - but one with walls prone to sinking or crumbling without warning. So how do you dig an underground under it?

Very carefully.

Construction of a new ?North-South? line for this city of canals and rivers began in 2003, and is presenting Dutch engineers, famed for their ingenuity in keeping this waterlogged nation dry, with devilish challenges.

''The politicians told us: "We want a subway, we're prepared to pay for it and accept some disruption, but the one thing we absolutely don't want is any damage to the city," said Johan Bosch, the project manager. "We need a system so that if things don't go as expected, we don't find out after the damage is irreparable"

The solution: 7,000 mirrors hung in clusters of three on buildings along the 3.8 kilometres of the route that?s underground. Measuring devices shine infrared beams onto each mirror once an hour, measure the reflection, and feed data into a central computer.After triangulating, the computer raises the alarm if any building shifts more than 0.5 millimetres in any direction. A millimetre is the thickness of a paper clip.The system, unique on such a large scale, has already told townspeople something they may have guessed but couldn?t know for sure: that theirs is a city in motion.We now know that whole segments of the city move by themselves, a number of millimetres over the course of a season,? Bosch said.

Scheduled for completion in 2013, the EUR1.8 billion project stretches 9.5 kilometres in all and will transport an estimated 200,000 people daily, adding a new dimension to Amsterdam's traffic of bicycles, trams, cars, taxis, buses and boats.The biggest technical challenge is building a subway stop directly beneath the city?s main train station - a landmark 19th century building - while it remains in use.

A quarter of a million travellers pass through Centraal Station every day and few of them realise construction is happening beneath their feet."It's probably better that people don't see this" said Bert van de Zande of Strukton, the contractor responsible for this part of the project, pointing to I-beams supporting the building?s main columns.

Strukton workers eventually will dig an 18-metre-deep trench under the station, and connect it to the IJ river which flows directly behind.It'll be the world's most expensive covered canal,? Van de Zande said. When all is ready, a segment of concrete tunnel 136 metres long will be buoyed with air like a submarine, floated into the trench, and then allowed to settle gently into place.

And they expect that to work? We haven't missed a deadline yet, Van de Zande says.

This autumn, two drills, each 7 metres in diameter, will begin tunnelling through the city like huge metallic moles pulling the contraption that lays concrete tunnel walls.

Archeologists can't wait for the tunnelling to begin at the Damrak, which was once the harbour where the Amstel River met the IJ, leading out to the North Sea. In the 1600s, countless ships returning from the East Indies docked there, making Amsterdam - the dam on the Amstel - one of the world?s wealthiest cities.

The initial segment where the drills will descend into the earth is being built using the caisson method. The sealed segment, or caisson, is constructed above the spot where it must go. Workers operate in a pressurised air pocket directly beneath it, using hoses and pumping mud upward through a pipe so that the caisson slowly sinks.Because the streets of Amsterdam are below sea level at high tide, the air pocket is increasingly pressurised as the caisson descends to a final depth of 25 metres. Workers must rest in decompression chambers after their shifts in order to avoid getting ?caisson disease?, the divers? ailment otherwise known as the bends.The underground stations are being built before the tunnelling starts, using an innovative method intended to minimise disruption to street traffic: the walls are built first, then the roof, and the rest of the work can proceed underground.

There are always surprises.

Workers digging space for a wall at the Rokin station were alerted by the mirror monitoring system that buildings on a nearby street began to sway back and forth. On further inspection, they found they had run into a layer of horizontal poles at a level where they expected to find sand.Eventually, Bosch said, workers got through the layer using 11-metre steel tubes with drill bits welded to the end, chewing up the wood and sucking it out as if through a straw.It didn?t seem prudent to keep on going, so we had to find another way,? Bosch said. ?I?m sure it won?t be the last time we have to improvise.?

[Copyright AP 2007]

Introduction ICB coaches

Because of a shortage of rolling stock NS has hired about 30 Interregio coaches from the German DB. These coaches have either a blue and white livery or one of two varieties of
white and red. The coaches are very similar to the ICK coaches which were taken over from the DB a couple of years ago but differ in having another interior plus a number of one piece windows whereas the ICK coaches only have two piece windows. Some coaches have been painted in NS yellow and blue and it is expected that more will follow. The coaches are designated as ICB, which stands for InterCity Bruikleen which can be translated as InterCity Borrowed.
The class of ICB coaches consists of the following types, Aimz 261, Bimz 264, and Bimdz 268. At least 3 sets of these coaches can be seen working between Amsterdam CS and Amersfoort between 2 Class 1700/1800 locos during working days. Some services are
extended to Deventer in the east of the country. In addition to the “German” coaches there’s
another type of coach in these sets, NS type Avmz of which there are 10. These are 1st class coaches and owned by NS which come from an international pool of coaches used in loco-hauled EuroCity trains before the introduction of the ICE highspeed EMUs.  The coaches have been refurbished and have been given the yellow and blue NS livery. As more and more coaches are getting the NS livery the sets are gradually becoming less varied in colour since they began to appear around december 2006.     

Refurbishment CityPendels

Now that  almost all 3-car sprinter EMUs have been refurbished NS has decided to also refurbish the 30 2-car sprinter EMUs, a.k.a. CityPendels. The first unit has already gone to Randers in Denmark where the work is carried out and it is expected to enter service again in March 2008.

DMUs for Slovakia

After refurbishment the 3-car DMUs 193 and 125 left The Netherlands in May to join a railroad company in Slovakia and 4 others are expected to join them later. The units didn’t make the journey to Slovakia under their own power but were towed.

Yet another open access operator

The French company SNCF FRET Benelux has begun freight operations in The Netherlands in May. For this purpose 2 Vossloh G2000s have been rented, 5001615 and 5001616.

HSL-South

It is expected that the HSL-Zuid, The High Speed Line from Amsterdam to Paris will open in December and until the delivery of Hispeed EMUs loco-hauled coaches will be used. These will be ICR-coaches which have been given a new livery of different variaties of white red and pink with a black or grey band along the windows. This spring these coaches began to appear in the Benelux-sets which have NMBS Class 11.8 haulage making them very colourful  together with the traditional maroon/yellow and blue/yellow ICR coaches. It is expected that about 70 coaches will get the new livery. The DVTs however won’t get the new livery.
The delivery of  Hispeed EMUs, which have been ordered in Italy, has been postponed several times now and is now expected to be in 2009 at the earliest.


Refurbishment ICM-3

NS has decided to refurbish all 87 ICM-3 and 50 ICM-4 EMUs. They will receive a complete
new interior. The oranje seats have been replaced by red ones in the first class and in te second class by blue ones. Air conditioning plus  wireless internet is available in the whole train and in the first class there are sockets for laptops. In each compartment there are screens for passenger information or entertainment. Two of the three toilets and the kitchen department have been removed which has resulted in 27 extra seats, lower cleaning costs and probably some more cueing.
The most noticeable exterior changes are the replacement of the 2-piece windows by single piece ones, the replacement of the doors under the cab by a polyester plate and the extension
of the blue band along the windows which now ends in a semi-circle plus the relocation of the number to the sides of the front. At first all ICM-3 units will be refurbished, an operation that is expected to last until 2010.
After that the ICM-4 units will follow. In April the refurbished units 4011 and 4012 entered service again.

Update June 2007

First commercial train ran on the Betuweroute

Rotterdam, The Netherlands - The train left 2007-06-18 at 07.30 h. from the shunting area 'Kijfhoek' just outside the port area. The train runs twice a day and brings in corn from Hungary into the port for export. It passed the German-Dutch border at approx. 10.20 h. Once the system is running for 100%, the travelling time is approx. 1.5 hour.

For some time (still work going on especially on the new European safety system ERMTS) one train an hour is running the tracks. In 2009, Keyrail (exploitation company) expects some 110 trains per 24 hours. Gradually the number will grow to 240 trains (5 trains per direction per hour, a long term commercial target) and eventually 480 trains is the technical maximum.

The connecting rail in Germany has capacity available for 4 freight trains (other capacity is for passenger trains) per direction per hour. Despite pessimistic voices, this is enough to cover the expected demand until approx. 2013 a third track is ready for use in Germany. This coincides with the start if the first container terminals on the Second Maasvlakte.

First freight train uses Betuwelijn railway

Monday 18 June 2007

An empty goods train became the first to use the long-awaited freight-only Betuwelijn railway on Monday morning.

The train left the Zwijndrecht freight depot one hour later than planned because of technical problems, ANP reported. The train is heading to Hungary to pick up a consignment of grain.

Queen Beatrix officially opened the 160 km railway, which runs from Rotterdam to the border close to Germany's Ruhr industrial area on Saturday.

Monday's train had a police helicopter escort and travelled at less than 40km per hour as a security precaution. The track had been occupied at the weekend by GroenFront activists.

By the end of this year, 50 trains a week will be using the route, rising to 150 a day in five years, says management company Keyrail. The Betuwelijn railway has cost at least €4.6bn to build

 

Betuwe Route Opening Marred by Protesters

protestors

Protesters at Vastgetketend -Photo by Mr RW Beech

The Betuwe Route was opened by Queen Beatrix on 16th June. To mark the events a train composed of locos of all the operation companies, head to tail, led a train composed of all the different types of wagons expected to use the line, departed the Kijfhoek yard as planned on the signal given by HM Queen Beatrix. There were some spectators on the road over bridge, but the train did not proceed much further due to the several blockades mounted by protesters.
Sited at Oud-Alblas (near Dordrecht), Gorinchem, Meteren (near Geldermalsen) and Elst, a few protesters managed to set up barriers across the line after gaining access to the line through the walls and barriers designed to offer security and prevent noise pollution.
After the protesters had been allowed to make their demonstrations, they were removed by the local police without the intervention of the Railway Police or the Marechausee. Whether the operating companies are impressed with the lack of determined action or security remains to be seen.
However the ceremony at Barendrecht seemed to be trouble free, and the 200 specially invited guests were entertained to a spectacular theatre performance by singers and dancers depicting the construction of the new line.
Needless to say, the TV programmes also highlighted the lack of development planning and incompetent project management, the colossal cost over-runs and the dreadful effects on the environment, balanced against the easing of the traffic congestion on the A.15.
Ministers were at pains to explain away the obvious objections by suggesting that the line had better been built today rather than in the future when the environmental crisis would have been harder to overcome, or conceding that no effort has been made to improve the line between Zevenaar and Emmerich, or beyond to Oberhausen by DB.
I hope that the ex-Ministers, who were present at the ceremony and were responsible for the series incompetent and calamitous decisions at the outset of the project, felt some discomfort, or perhaps they were safe in the knowledge that their highly-paid political posteriors were suitably protected by the vagaries of the Dutch political electoral
system of coalition and collective lack
of responsibility.

Further more and more important is the problem caused by the wall and safety regulations,

Modern freight wagons carry codes and warnings for the emergency services so that they are aware of any toxic chemicals on board, and they know what fire retardant material to use, e.g. water, foam or just let it burn!!!! The tunnel in Zevenaar has a permanently manned emergency room to control the ventilation and water sprinklers as well as the sumps and drains to collect any contaminants from an accident.

What is worrying the unions is that the train is not visible along its length because of the wall, and so any emergency services that arrive on the scene will have difficulty in deciding what to do.

AMSTERDAM – Train travellers are facing delays and cancelled trains throughout the country on Friday. Those travelling between Amsterdam and Utrecht should expect delays of 30 to 60 minutes, ProRail reports.

Fewer trains are servicing this route because of problems on the tracks.A faulty overhead cable is causing delays of 30 to 45 minutes between Leiden and Hoofddorp, ProRail warns.Until 5 pm fewer trains will be running between Amsterdam and Leiden and no stop trains will be operating between Hoofddorp and Leiden. Those travelling between Hoofddorp and Leiden should travel via Schiphol.

There are also problems on the tracks between Roermond and Nijmegen. Transport company Veolia is struggling with technical problems on this route, partly because diesel has become overheated.Problems on this route should largely be solved before the evening rush hour, says a spokesperson for Veolia.

Those travelling from Duivendrecht to Amsterdam Bijlmer ArenA and from Amsterdam Bijlmer ArenA to Abcoude should expect delays of up to 30 minutes because of a faulty switch.Equipment shortages will lead to 15 to 30-minute delays between Nijmegen and Boxmeer throughout the afternoon and evening, ProRail says.

Train service to and from Groningen was stopped on Friday morning because of a problem with the signal and switch system. Lightening strikes caused delays on the tracks between Breda and Dordrecht during most of the morning. These problems have since been solved, ProRail assures travellers.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Update May 2007

New Railion Logo

logoi

New style logo now appearing on Railion stock. Taken at Zevenaar on 1st June 2007 - photo by Mr R W Beech

Proposed withdrawal of Benelux Trains Opposed.

ROVER, the Dutch lobby group has filed a complaint against NS with the regulator NMa as a result of NS plans to withdraw the current jointly operated Benelux push pull trains once the HSL Zuid is open. The accustation is that NS is using a dominent monoploy position to force people on to the more expensive High Speed trains. The present proposls would leave only a stopping train between Antwerp and Roodsendaal. It is hoped that the new transport minister will be more inclindd to intervene than his predecessor.

Randstadrail trials start again

IVW, the railway saftey authority gave permission to start trials of the Randstadrail netwrok between DenHaag Centraal and Nootdorp and on the Zoetermeer loop line using a RET Metro set which began on 15th March. The trails are particularly examining how the sets perform on points since it was a points derailment in November 2007 that caused susoension of service after 17 people were injured. Further trails took place from 20th March between Den Haag Laan van Nieuw Oost Indie and Zoetermeer West using a HTM Regio Citadis tram. A full trail of the proposed timetable without passengers will then be consucted. The full fleet of Citadis trams is almost complete.

Train travellers want conversation

25 May 2007

UTRECHT - Three-quarters of all train travellers in the Netherlands are curious about the person sitting next to them on the train. More than 60 percent even say they would like to strike up a conversation sometime but find it awkward to do so.Research bureau Motivaction found this in a random survey of more than 500 people. This study into contact among train travellers was commissioned by Douwe Egberts.

According to the study, people are most curious about "their fellow passenger's destination," followed by "where they come from and whether he or she has a partner," the researchers said.Men in particular want to know whether their fellow traveller is single. Almost 90 percent of people say that they find it awkward to start a conversation with a stranger on the train. But exceptional circumstances, like a delay, can make it easier.

Douwe Egberts wants to get people talking on the train and will therefore be setting up "conversation carousels" at three stations in the Netherlands in the coming week. The rotating carousel means people will be faced with a new conversation partner every three minutes.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2007]

Belgian Coach Refurbishment

Bonbardier has picked up a Euro50m contract from SNCB for the refurbsihment of 130 Type M5 double deck coaches including a heavy overhall of the running gear. This is the first refurrbishment contract won by the firm which includes updated seats, windows, cab air-conditioning, gangways and automatic doors and a new design of luggage compartment. The contract runs from October 2008 until 2011 and will take place at the firm's Cuesmes workshops. Bombardier is no stgranger to the M5 coaches having built them for SNCB in the late 1980's. The contract calls for the first two vehicles to be refurbished by the company with the next four undertaken jointly between Bombardier and SNCB to allow for skill transfer. The remaining 124 coaches will then be done by SNCB with Bombardier supplying all parts on a just in time basis.

Opening of Antwerp Low Level

The new North South line through Antwerp Low level stgation was opened on 23rd March by Infrabel the Belgian infrastructure owner. The new line is 3.8km long and links Antwerp Berchem with Antwerp Luchtbal and p[rovides for through running for trains from the Netherlands into Belgium. Previously all trains had to reverse at what is now the upper level (which is a terminus) or avaoid the station altogether. The link was started in 1998 and on completion has provided three levels with a total of 14 platforms. The low level platforms will form part of the High Speed Link from Brussels to Amsterdam.

14-year-old set train fire

16 May 2007

DELFT- A 14-year-old boy has confessed to setting a train on fire earlier this month.

Two carriages went up in flames. The train engineer had to be taken to hospital for respiratory problems but no passengers were injured. The NS estimates the damage at about EUR 800,000.

The NS is demanding damage compensation of about EUR 50,000. "These people put the lives of our passengers in danger and we just won't take that," said a spokesperson for the Dutch railways.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Amsterdam Launches City Cargo Tram

A new project to use the tram system for the delivery of goods into the city centre gor underway on 7th March with a pilot that lasted until April 3rd. Two modified GVB trams were used running between 07.00 and 17.00, being loaded at Osdorp, the end of line 1 and unloaded in the City Centre at Frederiksplein and Plantage Parklaan into snall electric lorries that delivered thge small wheeled containers direct to the shops. A strict requirement imposed by the City Council was that the trams must not interfere with the normal tram operation.

Dependent on how the tests are judged, an expanded programme would require 50 specially built trams that would provide easier loading adn unloading. There would be four teransfer stations and many more distribution points with the aim of cutting the number of lorry movements in the city in half.

Betuwe Route Opens 16th June

The picture below shows a Vossloh (D) G 2000 from Rail4Chem on the new Betuwe route with what is either and engineering train or trial service. It is reported that due to the wall that protects wirtually the whole line, photography will be difficult apart from the various overbridges that cross the line. This was taken through an access gate that had been broken by vandals.

In the initial stages the line will be operated by diesel tracation since although the line is electrified, the voltage is 25kv and none of the various freight operators have any dual voltage traction at this time. It appears that due to delays - the line was supposed to open in March 2003, operators have delayed ordering traction that might otherwise have to sit around idle.

The opening ceremony takes place at Barendrecht NS Station, when the Queen will give the starting signal for the first freight train to leave the yard nearby. The Queen will also attend the public celebrations on the roof of the tunnel, which is actually a large open space, which may eventually include a bus-station, car-park and cycle-park. Due to concerns of increased noise levels from the new rail route, the line was enclosed in a cut-and-fill tunnel, approx 1½ kms long , and the official opening of this station and park coincides with the opening of the Betuweroute freight line..
The new Station is situated at the end of the deep tunnel where the line rises to ground level, but remains enclosed by glass and concrete walls and has separate lines for freight and passenger traffic.

Barendrecht, lies just to the south of Rotterdam and is close to the important rail junction into Rotterdam Botlek and Europort, and the main north-south line through Kijfhoek Yards, Dordrecht and to Breda and Roosendaal. The Beruweroute is 160 kilometres long, is intended for the exclusive transport of freight from Rotterdam harbour via Zevenaar, and on into the German heartland.

The line has been built by the project organiasation “Betuweroute”, a part of “Pro-Rail”, on the order of the Ministry of Traffic and Public Works, and will shorten the journey time to the German border, and on to Emmerich (D) and Oberhausen (D) . It will allow uninterrupted freight traffic on a route that closely follows the A 15 with no ground level road / rail crossings.

 

betuew 1

Photo by Mr R W Beech

4 arrests for train fire in Delft

3 May 2007

DELFT - A fire broke out on a passenger train at the Delft-Zuid station last night. The train had just pulled in from Delft's main station.

All the passengers were safely evacuated. The train engineer was taken to hospital for smoke inhalation. Police have arrested four people for arson, a spokesperson for the railway police announced.

The fire destroyed the front two carriages of the train, which had been on its way from The Hague to Dordrecht. The fire broke out just before 10 pm and was extinguished by fire fighters by 10.30 pm. Train service on the route gradually resumed at about midnight.

The police arrested four young men at Delft's main station after taking statements from witnesses. The four 17 and 18-year-olds all live in Delft.

A spokesperson for the Netherlands Railways (NS) said that it could demand compensation from the arsonists. "If these people are responsible for the fire, they have to pay the financial costs. The court has ruled in favour of this in the past."

The total fire and smoke damage from the incident last night comes to about EUR 700,000.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2007]

Update April 2007

Train service resumes

18 April 2007

AMSTERDAM - There were no trains between Amsterdam and Alkmaar this morning after a maintenance engine went off the rails late last night, rail infrastructure manager ProRail reported. The tracks were opened for service once again at 7.45 this morning and limited service was resumed.

NS warns travellers to expect delays of about 30 minutes for the time being.

An engine of rail contractor VolkerRail derailed last night during work near Uitgeest. No one was injured in the incident but the tracks were damaged.The engine was back on the rails in the course of the morning and the damage caused to a switch was repaired.

Buses were operating to transport travellers from stations along the route for several hours this morning.

'New' NS Carriages!

NS Hispeed. Operations on the new high speed line are scheduled to begin
at the end of this year (2007). Until the delivery of new high speed
train sets planned for 2008 loco hauled trains will be used. Seven
refurbished ICRm-coaches have been adapted and made available for this
service. They've been given a special livery of different variaties of red pink and white with a black band along the windows. This coaches can now (april 2007) be seen in some Benelux-sets working between Amsterdam and Brussels on the traditional lines, one Hispeed
ICRm-coach per set. It is expected that more coaches will appear in Hispeed colours.

Attached a photo of NMBS 1192 pushing a Benelux-set into Dordrecht station, April 4th 2007.icrmicm2Photos by Henk Hartsuiker

"ProRail must stop rail works"

3 April 2007

AMSTERDAM - Commuters' organisation Rover thinks that rail infrastructure manager ProRail should be prohibited from starting any more work on the tracks.

A spokesperson for Rover said this on Tuesday in response to the software problems that seriously disrupted train service in Noord-Brabant this morning."If ProRail is unable to carry out the work without interrupting other service, then maintenance on the tracks should be stopped. It may not all be up to date in that case, but at least it works."

Rover is considering sending a letter to Minister for Transport and Water Management Camiel Eurlings.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2007]

Update January 2005

More ACTS services

ACTS, the independent open access operator on the NS system has apparently picked up a contract to transport wood chips between Roosendaal and Beeskow in Germany. ACTS tractoin, Class 1200 or UK Class 58's are used on the weekly service being echanged for German locomotives at the Dutch Border.

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