Wider platforms, less tracks at Amsterdam Central - International trains move to Amsterdam Zuid

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DanielB

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The plans to reduce the number of available tracks at Amsterdam Central to 9 are definitely going ahead, as the final plans for this station have been published in the "Staatscourant" today.

These plans involve reducing the number of through tracks at Amsterdam Central, to create space for wider and longer platforms and additional stairs and escalators. Also the eastern tunnel will be rebuild to increase transfer capacity.
Beside the changes to the station itself the tracks leading into and out of the station will also be rebuilt: the number of points will be reduced and the bridges east of the station are being replaced. Also the current Dijksgracht yard will be dismantled to get the space to build a dive under, allowing the trains from Utrecht to pass underneath the trains to/from Weesp, reducing the number of conflicting movements.
The reduced number of points also allows for straighter tracks into the station and additional signals, allowing trains to arrive into the station at higher speeds.

There are also disadvantages to these plans, whose execution is due to start in 2024 and finish in 2030: space for international services like Eurostar and Thalys will no longer be available and these services will therefore move to Amsterdam Zuid where an additional platform is to be built.

ProRail published a video (in Dutch) which visualises the plans:
 
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Austriantrain

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While serving the city of Amsterdam via Zuid station does not seem a problem in itself for international trains, the question ist whether at least the most important connections to national services can be made at other stations (Schiphol, Utrecht etc).

If not, then it is another nail in the coffin of attractive international services. Maybe someone with a better grasp of the Dutch network than me has an opinion on it?
 

STEVIEBOY1

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Would it not be possible to build at least one other platform at the back on the station, or the "Waterside", even it was not under the main canopy.? How many platforms does Amsterdam Centraal have now?
 

biko

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The main disadvantage of Zuid is mainly that it is further from the areas where tourists want to be. The Dam and the red light district are within walking distance from Centraal but you need an underground trip from Zuid to get there.

While serving the city of Amsterdam via Zuid station does not seem a problem in itself for international trains, the question ist whether at least the most important connections to national services can be made at other stations (Schiphol, Utrecht etc).

If not, then it is another nail in the coffin of attractive international services. Maybe someone with a better grasp of the Dutch network than me has an opinion on it?
If looking at international trains to/from Belgium, France and the UK, connections for the north and east of the country are in Rotterdam or Amsterdam Zuid. Connections to the north of North Holland can be made at Schiphol and for the south of the country, one changes in Breda or Rotterdam. For most connections, Amsterdam Zuid is actually better.

Would it not be possible to build at least one other platform at the back on the station, or the "Waterside", even it was not under the main canopy.? How many platforms does Amsterdam Centraal have now?

Amsterdam Centraal now has 10 through platforms, 1 bay platform and some through tracks without platform. The platforms will be widened by removing all through tracks without platform and removing one platform. At the back of the station, there is a brand-new bus station, a main road and the pier of river services.
 

Shinkansenfan

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Banishing international travelers to Zuid and forcing a transfer to another train or mode is just astonishingly customer unfriendly. It is as if the railway is trying to make train travel as inconvenient as flying.

One of the appeal of arriving AMS by train is being able to alight right in the center of the tourist district radiating from the central station.

After this downgrade happens I can envision that I would transfer trains at the airport station which is more convenient and weather protected. Of course if I have to transfer there I may as well just consider flying.
 

biko

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Banishing international travelers to Zuid and forcing a transfer to another train or mode is just astonishingly customer unfriendly. It is as if the railway is trying to make train travel as inconvenient as flying.

One of the appeal of arriving AMS by train is being able to alight right in the center of the tourist district radiating from the central station.

After this downgrade happens I can envision that I would transfer trains at the airport station which is more convenient and weather protected. Of course if I have to transfer there I may as well just consider flying.
This is exactly the main argument against the project. NS tried to keep the same number of platforms so international trains could still go to Centraal, but the government decided otherwise.

There is a little positive note: Amsterdam Zuid is where most business travellers want to go to, so for them a change is removed making the train more competitive.
 

DanielB

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Not necessarily as ICE International fits nicely in the corridor Amsterdam - Utrecht and, in contrary to Eurostar, Thalys and IC Direct, is not using Watergraafsmeer yard that often but reverses at a siding on the west side of the station. Early departures or late arrivals are likely to go to/come from Watergraafsmeer, but at those times its less a problem to pass trough the other traffic.

Extending ICE International to Schiphol would probably not be possible as Amsterdam Central is getting corridors through the station like Utrecht Central already has. In this setup, the layout of the station is aiming to have trains from Utrecht arrive somewhere in the middle in order to continue towards Zaandam. The northernmost platforms are then to be used for the Airport Sprinter and the southernmost platforms for the corridors from Weesp and Haarlem (with options for through trains as far as I know.
If looking at international trains to/from Belgium, France and the UK, connections for the north and east of the country are in Rotterdam or Amsterdam Zuid. Connections to the north of North Holland can be made at Schiphol and for the south of the country, one changes in Breda or Rotterdam. For most connections, Amsterdam Zuid is actually better.
With one remark: one can get directly from Schiphol to Zaandam, but will have to change there again for the remainder of North Holland. So effectively one additional change. The exception is for Haarlem as passengers traveling to that station can also change at Rotterdam Central. Although changing twice, at Schiphol and Amsterdam Sloterdijk, might be faster as the high speed line not only allows for higher speeds, but also takes the shortest possible route in kilometres between Rotterdam and Schiphol.

While serving the city of Amsterdam via Zuid station does not seem a problem in itself for international trains, the question ist whether at least the most important connections to national services can be made at other stations (Schiphol, Utrecht etc).
Actually, for most destinations travelling via Amsterdam Zuid is already more efficient now. And it will only become more attractive as there will be changes to the domestic network as well: Amersfoort Central is likely to loose its trains to Amsterdam Central as well, but will get twice as much trains to Amsterdam Zuid instead. And towards Almere services from Zuid will also become significantly more frequent. This results in more efficient changes, as you are less likely to always make the wrong choice.

Would it not be possible to build at least one other platform at the back on the station, or the "Waterside", even it was not under the main canopy.? How many platforms does Amsterdam Centraal have now?
There's a huge problem with building a plaform there (apart from a bus station being in the way) that's actually also the main reason that only 9 plaforms will be available in future instead of the current 10. This problem is that, although its hardly visible, the current tracks 14 and 15 are situated on an ancient cast iron bridge that's running through the station (part of a former goods line). One can see the pillars of this bridge in the western tunnel.
Because of that bridge after widening plaform 13/14 only one track will fit north of that plaform, as track 15 cannot be moved north.
 

cle

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It's definitely a shame for that sense of arrival, but pragmatically, I get the rationale.

Might they shave a few mins off the scheduled Eurostar and Thalys running times? Zuid is easily 5 and often 10 mins less than to Centraal from Schiphol. Also these trains require long dwells. The Zuid platforms will be another raised through island (over the highway) - as I understand it. How will the platforms be managed for international trains?
 

DanielB

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Schiphol to Amsterdam Zuid takes only 6 minutes, where Schiphol to Amsterdam Central takes at least 14 minutes (with a non-stop train). So most journeys the city center, especially the ones with a destination near metro route 52, will take slightly less time. As the Amsterdam tram network was also redesigned when metro 52 was opened, changing to a tram at one of the metro stops will get you to most of the city center quite easily.

As you already partially mention, there are a lot of "buts" in moving the international trains to Amsterdam Zuid. The Zuidasdok project, involving building a tunnel for the A10 motorway with a new train and metro station on top is significantly delayed: the entire project needs to be re-tendered as the selected contractor refused to build it for the budget available. However this project is essential for the expansion of Amsterdam Zuid with a fifth and sixth platform, as in the current situation there is no space to put it and the current station is not really attractive. (Personally I hate changing at Amsterdam Zuid, it feels like you're waiting for a train whilst standing on the motorway, so I usually prefer changing at Schiphol or Duivendrecht instead)
Secondly I doubt if even with six platforms there will be sufficient capacity to close one of them to allow a Eurostar to depart from there. And as the third "but": both Thalys and Eurostar will need to go to Watergraafsmeer yard in between arrival and departure for cleaning and restocking. To get there, these trains need to squeeze in between the domestic trains through Duivendrecht and Diemen Zuid which both have only two tracks and then take a single track bridge towards the Watergraafsmeer yard. This small part of the route is so extremely busy that in the plans for highly frequent trains between Almere and Schiphol its already suggested to close either Diemen Zuid or Amsterdam RAI to free up capacity.
 

cle

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Agree with all of that, and the changing trains. I used to go to Hilversum a lot and so I'm very familiar. I do like the 52 metro though, game changer.

Not just closing the platform for Eurostar, but the whole security / lounge / duty free area would need to be built - and it was just finished at Central! Maybe for Thalys and not Eurostar? But from a business point of view, they should really consolidate branding and operations further, so who knows.
 

DanielB

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All the Eurostar facilities at Amsterdam Central have always been temporary for maximum 10 years, that's also why they are in a seperate building on the platform instead of in the station building (like is the case in Rotterdam Central, although that also doesn't look very future-proof).

In the mean time I've read more on how Amsterdam Zuid will be adapted to the international trains: a new island platform will be build south of the current platforms and the current platform 1/2 will then become a dedicated platform for the international trains, including sidings to park the trains between arrival and departure (which are a challenge on their own: they'll need to fit a set of points, sidings with at least 400 meters length and a curve to get from the new alignment to the existing one in the just 900 meters of space between the ends of the plaform at Amsterdam Zuid and Amsterdam RAI)

Below a diagram of the future layout at Zuid. In brown the domestic routes on the SAAL (Schiphol - Amsterdam - Almere - Lelystad) corridor, in green the Airport Sprinter to Amsterdam Central and in black the routes of International trains. That's also showing some significant constraints in capacity: at the SAAL-corridor 16 tph will pass trough Zuid and the International trains will need to partially share tracks with them.

 

Austriantrain

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Thank you for all the details, very interesting (although having international trains cross the SAAL tracks before serving their platforms at Zuid sounds like an operational headache.)
 

30907

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Thank you for all the details, very interesting (although having international trains cross the SAAL tracks before serving their platforms at Zuid sounds like an operational headache.)
Think most of the SAAL trains will be on the black pair rather than going brown-green-brown, so sharing rather than crossing tracks. Still a bit of a problem.
 

DanielB

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You're partially right at least, although no one will now exactly how the platform usage at Schiphol Airport will be once the full frequency through Zuid is reached.

In the current situation, all intercity trains on the SAAL corridor continue towards Leiden and The Hague. The same applies to half of the Sprinter services. All those services are therefore likely to use the two outer platforms at Schiphol.
However, with frequencies to be increased and the rollout of ICNG on the Dutch network (as we're talking about the timeframe between 2024 and 2030) a lot will change around Schiphol.

As far a I've read the plans are to combine current domestic services with services using the high speed line, for example trains from Amersfoort (which currently terminate at Schiphol) will continue towards Rotterdam via the high speed line. And trains from Utrecht will continue towards Leiden. I'm not sure about what was exactly planned to happen with the trains coming from Almere, but the number of trains terminating at Schiphol is likely to reduce. That will allow for more usage of the outer platforms, freeing up platform 3 and 4 for the Airport Sprinter towards Amsterdam and the services towards Zaandam.
 

MarkyT

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As you already partially mention, there are a lot of "buts" in moving the international trains to Amsterdam Zuid. The Zuidasdok project, involving building a tunnel for the A10 motorway with a new train and metro station on top is significantly delayed: the entire project needs to be re-tendered as the selected contractor refused to build it for the budget available. However this project is essential for the expansion of Amsterdam Zuid with a fifth and sixth platform, as in the current situation there is no space to put it and the current station is not really attractive. (Personally I hate changing at Amsterdam Zuid, it feels like you're waiting for a train whilst standing on the motorway, so I usually prefer changing at Schiphol or Duivendrecht instead)
Secondly I doubt if even with six platforms there will be sufficient capacity to close one of them to allow a Eurostar to depart from there. And as the third "but": both Thalys and Eurostar will need to go to Watergraafsmeer yard in between arrival and departure for cleaning and restocking. To get there, these trains need to squeeze in between the domestic trains through Duivendrecht and Diemen Zuid which both have only two tracks and then take a single track bridge towards the Watergraafsmeer yard. This small part of the route is so extremely busy that in the plans for highly frequent trains between Almere and Schiphol its already suggested to close either Diemen Zuid or Amsterdam RAI to free up capacity.
The A10 project presumably puts at least the eastbound carriageway underground throughout the station area. Looks like that would open up nearly 60m additional width to add additional tracks, so maybe 4 or more international platforms possible? The existing double island domestic station is only around 35m wide.
In the mean time I've read more on how Amsterdam Zuid will be adapted to the international trains: a new island platform will be build south of the current platforms and the current platform 1/2 will then become a dedicated platform for the international trains, including sidings to park the trains between arrival and departure (which are a challenge on their own: they'll need to fit a set of points, sidings with at least 400 meters length and a curve to get from the new alignment to the existing one in the just 900 meters of space between the ends of the plaform at Amsterdam Zuid and Amsterdam RAI)
Very complex. I'm sure International trains will also be able to use the middle tracks (brown/green) between Zuid and Schiphol as expedient to help avoid conflict. Looks impractical to fit the yard in that small space though, with a continuous curve nearly all the way.

If the motorway tunnel to the east allows this, maybe the yard tracks to the east could extend in the middle actually through RAI station, with the east-bound tracks relocated where the road is today?
 

DanielB

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Correct, the complete A10 should go underground near Zuid. Although this whole project is currently on hold as it needs to be re-tendered. The selected construction company has refused to build the tunnels due to a conflict around budget for additional work.

Extending the sidings trough Amsterdam RAI would be quite a waste of money as the rebuilding of the tracks east of Amsterdam Zuid has only just finished, including a newly built platform at RAI south to the existing station (which would need to be moved again to allow for the sidings to be built there.
In that same project the infrastructure west of Amsterdam Zuid was rebuilt, but this will remain more or less the same in the SAAL plans and Amsterdam Zuid itself was not changed because of the existing plans for a new station.

Using the middle tracks between Schiphol and Zuid for International trains is unlikely by the way: the middle platforms at Schiphol cannot be reached from the high speed line and the points to get from platform 1/2 at Schiphol onto those tracks are actually almost never used. (although those are one of the few points in the Schiphol tunnel that allow a speed of 60 km/h)
 

DanielB

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Haven't seen any exact plans how they want to do the rebuild in Amsterdam, but completely normal it will never be. I've experienced the similar rebuild at Utrecht Central myself as a commuter and there they've first disabled a few connections between tracks overnight and then installed new masts for the overhead wires in a few weekends.
This enabled ProRail to do the rebuild in a stepwise approach, one corridor at a time, thus limiting the disruption for passengers. Although there have been lengty train-free periods in the various corridors.

At Amsterdam Central this stepwise approach is a bit more of a challenge: especially at the eastern side there is simply less space and the bridges next to the platforms are being replaced. And the work to be done at the platforms themselves is also more extensive (in Utrecht the work on the platforms was already finished when they started with the track works)
 
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