Mikeg's kleine Nederlandse Eurobash

mikeg

Member
Joined
20 Apr 2010
Messages
1,100
Hi, it's a while since I've done a trip report.

I've been on holiday in Amsterdam, having used the VIRM trains before between Schiphol and Amsterdam and Rotterdam, also between Amsterdam and Utrecht.

Today (or yesterday, it's past midnight as a write this), I decided to give the Dutch railways an explore. Nearly buying an NS dagkaart I ended up instead buying a Holland Travel ticket off peak as it's cheaper, it was nearly 9am anyway and it's valid on other forms of transport. The name nearly put me off. 'But isn't Holland just two provinces? Wouldn't it only be valid there?', before a litte research showed it was valid throughout the entire Netherlands. Looking up some scenic Dutch journeys, I decided to do the branch line to Stavoren.

I boarded a VIRM to Amsterdam Zuid from Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena station, which is near the hotel in which I'm staying (yes, okay, it's an Easyhotel)... The weather was already getting hot and the aircon was really struggling, but it was still comfortable. Heb Mondkapje, zal reizen, as one might say., Changing at Amsterdam Zuid was just a few minutes and conveniently nearby platforms, it seems the Dutch railways are built to make sense, with common connections being just a few minutes and at worst a walk from one platform to another. So onto an ICM train, the Dutch electric HST equivalent I suppose. I don't know if it had air conditioning to be fair, we were heading to Leeuwarden. It was quite comfortable and not too crowded. I sat in the quiet coach. The train departed, one thing I've noticed is that Dutch intercity trains certainly seem a lot slower than their British equivalent. I didn't measure the speed though so I can't be sure. I belive in theory they're similar top speeds to ours, but those speeds only seem to be reached in the main lines around the central belt, like Amsterdam to Rotterdam. Certainly wasn't too fast here. But it's nice enough, the weather is getting hotter and if this thing is air conditioned I really can't tell. We pull into Zwolle, some Italians or possibly Spaniards get on, with their noses poking out of their facemasks, and proceed to talk loudly throughout the journey. A Dutch woman reminds them it's the quiet coach. A few minutes later they're chatting again, I think we've all given up getting them to be quiet. What is it with the Romance peoples and rules (I mean other than the French)?

The conductor, or RPI, or whoever comes round to check ticckets. I suspect there's a lot of DOO in the Netherlands, as from announcements it sounds like the driver is announcing, one can hear the cab sounds and safety systems riniging. But I'm honestly not sure. But anyway, here's a guy checking tickets, I hold my disposable OV Chipkaart and after an awkward second, it's okay. He then turns to our latin friends, 'you know this is the silent carriage? I don't want you to get a penalty'..., checks their tickets, and everyone elses'. He then disappears.

Finally getting into Leeuwarden, the connection is a little longer and I have to exit the station to go back in to go to another platform. So I check out, check in again, which I'd have to do anyway as the service to Stavoren is operated by Arriva. Seems the Dutch don't have an equivalent of ORCATS, or if they do, they still like you to check out with one operator and in with another.

I board a DMU of some description, again if this thing is air conditioned, and by the sound I'm sure it is, it's not doing a very good job, but the air temperature is marginally comfier than the ICM. The seats less so, and it doesn't look like it's been refurbed in a while, in fact it looks older than a lot of Arriva trains in the area. Never mind, the scenery is okay. Nothing spectacular, and they're not lying when they say the Netherlands is a flat country. I spend some time taking in Stavoren, it's a small town but I staid there long enough to get sunburnt. I also bought a postcard and posted it to my niece in Carnforth. Which caused me to miss the train, so I had to spend another hour walking around and getting sunburnt.

The way back the train was more comfortable. I'm not sure if it's a different type of train, or whether it's just refurbished. Getting off I notice in the middle there's like a block... If you get what I mean, with equipment in. Is this train powered from the middle or something? I'll never know. I check out of Arriva, back into NS again at Leeuwarden, and head back up to Amersfoort Centraal on another ICM. Absolutely roasting, I'm sure this thing isn't air conditioned but it is 30 out. I've read about a short section of track between Weesp and Narden-Bussum, it has the advantage of being easy and quick to do, it now being 4pm. So I board a sprinter, the seats are less comfy, but the aircon works, and when I say works I mean works, which is important. I head to Weesp on a service to Amsterdam Centraal. It's a short journey and i don;t want to get off, it's so nice and cool. I think overall it's a tad ironic that the sprinter seems more comfortable than the intercity trains, is it normally like this? Again, i wait a wihle, not long, and get the service to Naarden Bussum. Another sprinter of the same type (SLT?), another breath of fresh air. I check out and explore NB a bit. It's okay.

To be honest this is pretty much the end, as I look on Google Maps how best to get to the hotel, Travel two stops to this place beginning with a 'D' whose name escapes me, and am able to get a bus, which I only just make, right back to Bijlmer Arena station. The thing I did notice is the sprinter had a guard, blowing on her whistle and ensuring safe departure of the train. Anyone know what the Dutch are like re guards and DOO?

How did it go? To be honest, I'm a bit angry at myself for spending so long in Stavoren, I had wanted also to do the line to Maastricht, but it wasn't to be. So I'm off to bed soon, as I'm flying back to LBA in the morn. Tot Ziens!
 
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AlexNL

Established Member
Joined
19 Dec 2014
Messages
1,359
Sounds like you had a fun trip!

Some remarks to fill in the blanks on your story:

- The ICMm trains are fitted with air-conditioning. It's a pretty loud system, it sounds a bit like an industrial sized hairdryer. If you don't hear a constant hairdryer sound it's probably broken - the AC was retrofitted during the overhaul which these trains got in the early 00's.
- The top speed of trains in the Netherlands is a measly 140 km/h (87mph), this is due to the ATB train protection system being specced rather limited. Trains can go faster on the high speed line between Schiphol, Rotterdam, Breda and Belgium: 160 km/h (100mph) for Intercity Direct, 300 km/h (186mph) for Eurostar and Thalys.
- All trains which are operated by NS (recognisable by their distinctive yellow+blue livery) run with a guard. There is no DOO on NS, the rolling stock isn't capable of it either. NS operates with a 'driver opens, guard closes'. Other operators (such as Arriva) operate with the driver in sole control of the entire operation, any other staff on such a train is not safety-critical.
- On NS the guard closes doors, checks tickets, and does announcements for the major stations. Minor stations (just halts) are announced by the driver. However, guards can do their announcements from a non-leading cab so you may have heard the sounds of the safety systems come from there.
- Revenue allocation is handled by OV-chipkaart touch in and out data. That's why when changing operators you have to touch out with NS and touch in with Arriva. There is no 'through ticketing' when you're traveling on a smartcard.
- The DMU you boarded to Stavoren (and back to Leeuwarden) is a Stadler GTW. These have a power pack in the middle (like the rural FLIRTs that Greater Anglia have) which houses the engines. These trains entered service in 2006 and are getting rather tatty, the units are currently receiving a midlife overhaul in preparation of a new concession period which starts at the end of this year.
- The SLT trains are not the most comfy (the seat and especially pitch are pretty bad) but their AC works like a charm. On a hot summer day they can be really pleasant. On days with the temperatures exceeding 30 °C the AC on the ICMm trains may simply no longer be capable of keeping up.
- Place beginning with a 'D': that's either Diemen or Duivendrecht :)
 

biko

Member
Joined
8 Mar 2020
Messages
30
Location
Netherlands
AlexNL has answered most of your questions, but just to add:

Nearly buying an NS dagkaart I ended up instead buying a Holland Travel ticket off peak as it's cheaper, it was nearly 9am anyway and it's valid on other forms of transport. The name nearly put me off. 'But isn't Holland just two provinces? Wouldn't it only be valid there?', before a litte research showed it was valid throughout the entire Netherlands
I fully agree with you. Most tourists do not understand that there is a difference between Holland and the Netherlands, but for those that do, this is very confusing. Actually, I did not know until last week that it was valid in the rest of the country...

Seems the Dutch don't have an equivalent of ORCATS, or if they do, they still like you to check out with one operator and in with another.
This is something many people are not happy with, but it all has to do with competition law prohibiting that one company can see the travel behaviour at another, if I remember correctly, but still very annoying, especially with a short connection and many people wanting to change trains

Never mind, the scenery is okay. Nothing spectacular, and they're not lying when they say the Netherlands is a flat country.
Actually, you chose one of the most flat journeys I could think of from Amsterdam :D. Friesland (area around Leeuwarden) is very very flat and you also went through the largest polder (Flevoland). Maastricht would have been a completely different experience, especially if you would do Maastricht to Heerlen. I was actually surprised about the height of the hills when I did that trip last year.

I'm a bit angry at myself for spending so long in Stavoren
You were unlucky as that is one of the few places with just 1 train per hour...
 

AlexNL

Established Member
Joined
19 Dec 2014
Messages
1,359
If I may offer a suggestion for anyone wanting to go to Stavoren: rather than going up to Stavoren and back, there is another route which you could take.

- Travel from Amsterdam up to Enkhuizen by train (about an hour), which takes you through the rural flat bits of Noord-Holland
- Take the ferry from Enkhuizen to Stavoren across the IJssel Lake, a nice 80 minute journey. 3 return sailings/day during peak seasons, times & tickets on www.veerboot.info
- Then take the train to go from Stavoren to Leeuwarden and back to Amsterdam (or wherever your starting point is).
 

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