The Anonymous Widower

Dutch Leave Passengers In The Cold

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Dutch Minister Resigns Over Fyra Failures.

The first paragraph sums up the article.

Dutch infrastructure minister Wilma Mansveld has resigned following the publication of a highly critical report on the failings of the Fyra high-speed rail fiasco.

The report, which was led by CDA parliamentarian Madeleine van Toorenburg, said that passengers had been “left out in the cold” by the HSL-Zuid project.

The second paragraph gave me the title for this post.

But as I effectively said in Back From The Hague, the Dutch, Belgians and Germans couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery!

So no wonder there’s frozen passengers all the way from Amsterdam to Brussels.

October 30, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Any Dutch Station By Eurostar From London

I complained to Eurostar about the lack of this ticket after my last trip to The Hague.

I got this reply.

Good morning,

although we currently don’t offer a ticket to “Any Dutch Station” on our UK website this product is available through our call centre on 0844 848 5848.   Please specify when booking that you don’t require the “Thalys” trains and that you will be using regular “Classic” trains onwards from, and back to, Brussels, and they will be able to booking the ticket for you.

Although this product was withdrawn from our website around the time that the High Speed link was introduced the position regarding the sale of this ticket on our website is under review.  In the meantime, though, please ring our contact centre who are open 0800 to 1900 on Mondays to Fridays and 0900 to 1700 on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Not perfect, but it looks like they’re on the case.

October 22, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Do The English, Scots And Welsh Work Better Together Than The Belgians, Dutch And Germans?

If we take these two groups of three countries, they all have different railway companies, but do they illustrate a problem in the relations between various EU countries.

I know my experience of travelling between these six countries is mainly on the trains, but to travel between England, Scotland and Wales by train, is a lot easier than travelling between Belgium and The Netherlands and the Netherlands and Germany is full of little difficulties.

Strangely if you add France into the mix, that is generally as easy as the three home nations.

Judging by my experience in Europe, there are many ways that the Scots and Welsh could make the English unwelcome. But they don’t, except for the Seniors Bus Pass, although the same Senior Railcard is valid everywhere in the UK.

I know we’re all part of the same country, but I think where something has to be agreed across a border, we generally find a solution that is acceptable enough!

In the important area of rail ticketing, there seems little agreement on common standards between Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany.

Imagine how difficult it would be if ScotRail had different ticketing rules to say Virgin.

Surely, if Europe can’t get its act together in something like rail ticketing, how can it get something important like dealing with migrants working?


October 13, 2015 Posted by | Travel, World | , , , , | Comments Off on Do The English, Scots And Welsh Work Better Together Than The Belgians, Dutch And Germans?

Den Haag HS Station

This is the station from where I left The Hague

Over the years, I have used it, Den Haag HS station has been cleaned up, but in some ways it is a rather soulless place, except for some of the old details.

I had bought my ticket earlier, but at least there was a machine at the station, where I could get a ticket to Brussels.

Unlike at Brussels, where there were no machines selling tickets to The Netherlands that I could find.

October 11, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Museum de Cruquius

The Museum de Cruquius is just up the road from The Hague near Haarlem, although our journey up wasn’t the easiest, because the motorway was closed.

It is well worth a visit as it shows a tremendous amount about how the Dutch have kept water at bay.

The enormous steam engine, which sadly doesn’t work, was actually built in Cornwall.

When I see a museum and engine like this, I do think it sad that London’s massive sewage engines at Crossness were just filled with sand and abandoned in the 1960s.

Both sites incidentally, are about the same age!

October 10, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Kröller-Müller Museum

The Kröller-Müller Museum contains an art collection. It is set in The National Park de Hoge Veluwe, near Arnhem.

The gallery contains examples of many great painters and is surrounded by sculpture displayed in a wooded landscape.

October 9, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized, World | , , | Leave a comment

I’m Off To The Hague Today

Is there any other train journey between two capitals in the world, that is more difficult now than it was six or seven years ago?

When I first did this trip, I was able to buy a Eurostar ticket from London to Any Dutch Station, as many visitors to The Netherlands did.

But when Fyra; the high-speed train started, this was not possible any more. I couldn’t even get to the Dutch capital without a second change.

Today, I’ve bought a Eurostar ticket to any Belgian Station and will go to Antwerp for a spot of lunch, before I buy a ticket to Den Haag Laan van Nieuwe Oost Indie, so that I avoid all the hassle of using Dutch local ticketing, which will mean buying an Oyster-style card.

I will then use Shanks’s Pony to get to my final destination.

If that is progress, you can stick it up your backside.

Suppose to go between London and Edinburgh, you had to change trains at Newcastle or Berwick! Even the most rabid of Scottish Independence advocates, would never want a service like that between Scotland and England!

Also, if I was going to most important stations in Switzerland, I can buy one ticket from London.

Surely, this should apply to all major cities in Europe, that are within say five or six hours from London.

Going the other way, I could buy a ticket from say Paris direct to virtually anywhere in the UK.

October 8, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Tale Of Three Web Sites

I’m going away for a few days on Thursday and my aim originally was to fly to Hamburg and then take trains along the coast to Amsterdam.

So I tried to book a flight on the German Wings web site.

I couldn’t, as when I tried to put my address into the booking form, I couldn’t find the UK, United Kingdom, Great Britain or England in their list of countries. Don’t the Germans know, they lost the Second World War?

I thought it might be finger trouble, so as I was watching one of my least favourite football teams getting a superb thumping at the time, I tried once for each goal.

In the end, I gave up and booked Eurostar to Any Belgian station, as you can’t book it to Hamburg yet.

It used to be easier, as you could book a train to Any Dutch Station, but for some reason the Dutch stopped that convenient ticket. It’s now much easier to book tickets to Switzerland than The Netherlands.

This morning, I needed to do my winter clothes shopping. It was only a number of standard items from Marks and Spencer. I usually, buy one example of say the trousers or jumpers I want and then use the code on the ticket to buy more if they fit.

So after logging in, doing the purchase with a new Amex card and arranging delivery to my local store, the process was completed without hassle in a few minutes.

Why can’t all travel sites, be as easy to use as shops like Marks and Spencer, John Lewis and IKEA?

incidentally, I now use Amex a lot on the web, as they seem to have brought in a geographic security based on your Internet connection. The sites ask if they can use your Internet location and I suppose now, they can link that to my physical address.

It looks like a clever way to check on-line purposes. If my card and delivery address tie up to where my Internet connection is located, there must be a high probability, that I am making the purchases. I suppose, it could be someone, who has access to my house getting  hold of the card, but then I would be suspicious if products I hadn’t ordered ended up on my doorstep.

Banks and credit card companies should use tricks like this to secure on-line purchases, as anything password-based is likely to be derailed by the forgetful mind, unless it is written down. Which then breaks the security.

October 5, 2015 Posted by | Computing, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abellio Greater Anglia Make Football At Ipswich And Norwich Difficult

A couple of seasons ago, my getting to Portman Road for the football was made very difficult, as virtually every match was difficult because of works on the line and it meant getting on a bus for most of the day.

So now Network Rail is sorting out the ballast on the track and from the 31st of January until the 22nd of March there will be no direct trains between London, Ipswich and Norwich at weekends.

A typical journey will now take nearly two hours, as opposed to the just over one it normally does. As that is twice, I really must get a lift up and back from somewhere.

Luckily it would appear to only be three matches; Wigan (31st Jan), Reading (21st Feb) and Brentford (7th Mar), as most in the period seem to be on Tuesday evening or we’re away at easier places to get to like Rotherham or Middlesbrough.

Tuesday night matches seem to be OK at the moment. Although, if we have extra time and penalties in the FA Cup replay on Wednesday, getting home might be tricky. As I write this there is a lot of anger on the forums complaining about no late trains after the match to Cambridge, Lowestoft and Felixstowe.

For the Norwich match on the first of March, which thankfully has a 14:05 start, it looks more feasible to go via Kings Cross and change at Cambridge.

Obviously, the ballast cleaning has to be done, but Abellio Greater Anglia could have used this disruption to fans getting to and from matches as a vehicle to show how well they can deal with adversity, instead of getting the old tired solutions out of the box.

For example, Abellio Greater Anglia have several rakes of Mark 3 coaches that run the services up the East Anglian Main Line. Could they not use a diesel locomotive to on match days run a football special either via or from Cambridge? Properly done, it might retrieve their battered reputation and encourage more people to travel by train.

But they can’t even get their information right. This was a poster at Liverpool Street on Saturday the 10th.

Greater Anglia Gets The Dates Wrong

Greater Anglia Gets The Dates Wrong

That is unless it’s me who’s got the wrong dates. At least they said the first of January was New Year’s Day. Although, it was a Thursday not a Wednesday.

It would be interesting to know how Norwich fans are coping during this period, as I think quite a few are dependent on using the long-distance trains to get to both home and away matches. Surely, during this interruption, they should seriously think about running direct diesel-hauled services from London to Norwich via Cambridge for all passengers. Does granny visiting Norwich really want to spend hours on a coach, when she booked a comfortable train? Especially, if it’s crammed full with angry football fans worried about missing the match or getting their onward connection in London.

Yet again, Abellio Greater Anglia have shown all the conservatism and arrogance of their Dutch masters, who managed the Fyra fiasco and introduced one of Europe’s worst ticketing systems to piss off foreign visitors.


January 11, 2015 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Roll On 2016

I saw this article in Global Rail News, about Eurostar starting services between London and Amsterdam in 2016.

About time too!

September 28, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment


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