This article from the Europe by Rail web site is a lesson to all those politicians and civil servants, who think they understand the transport needs of the general public. This is the first paragraph.
The Belgian Railway authorities this afternoon announced the return of old-style InterCity services from Brussels to stations in the Netherlands. This is to provide some kind of replacement for the short-lived FYRA service, introduced in December 2012 and then withdrawn last month.
The service has actually lasted less than two months.
There is also a sting in the tail of the article.
Meanwhile, coach operators have spotted a gap in this busy cross-border market. One company starts a new express link from Rotterdam to Brussels early next month.
After all, the UK has a large network of long distance coach services that compete with rail, so why not between Brussels and big centres of population in The Netherlands/
Just out of curiosity, I looked at how much it would cost me to go from St. Pancras to The Hague next Wednesday, the 30th of January.
So I looked up on the Belgian Rail web site called b-europe.co.uk. They offer two routes.
You can go to Brussels Midi, where you take a train to Essen in Germany and then another one to Rosendaal in The Netherlands, from where you get a Dutch train to The Hague. For this Grand Tour of the Low Countries you will pay £114.42.
Alternatively, you can take the Thalys from Brussels to Rotterdam and then take the train to The Hague. It will be 17 minutes quicker, but you can’t book it in Second Class, so it’ll cost you £188.75 in First.
I have done the single leg in the past for under £100 and I can book it for about £60 by means of easyJet.
So who would use the train from London to The Hague?
Not this enthusiast for rail travel, for a start!
It’s all double-Dutch to me!
The BBC article gives a full time-line of the sinking of the ferry until she sent her last radio message at 13:58. But it leaves out anything of what happened later.
As a child for a few years I lived in Felixstowe and I can still remember the dark marks on the walls of the houses in Langer Road, showing how high the North Sea Floods of 1953 rose later on that fateful day, killing some 38 people in that end of the town.
Many more died in The Netherlands and Flanders.
Sad that the sinking of the Princess Victoria was, it seems inconceivable today, that the warning wasn’t heeded and so many deaths and damage occurred.
I hope we have learned from what happened that night.
This story about the Dutch Aunt Sally, just adds to the mess the of the high speed train.
But as Fyra doesn’t actually go to The Hague, where the Dutch parliament sits, they would have to change at Rotterdam or drive there anyway.
I’ve also had a look on the Eurostar web site. They’re saying this.
To travel to the Netherlands book your Eurostar to Brussels first and then your Thalys train from Brussels to Amsterdam, Schiphol or Rotterdam.
I suppose they’re only telling you what is possible.
Let’s face it London to Amsterdam is probably only a similar distance, as London to say Perth in Scotland. I haven’t done that journey but I know it would be one web purchase not two, as incidentally so would London to Geneva on Eurostar’s web site, changing in Paris.
It’s a complete mess and it seems to be getting worse, with little leadership or common sense being shown.
The launch on the Fyra trains between Brussels and Amsterdam, must rank as one of the worst launches of any train services in the last few years. We’ve had a few bad ones in the UK, where reliability has been questioned and we’ve also had problems with the wrong kind of snow, but nothing, which seems to have been hated by so many as this train has. The BBC tries to explain the mess here.
If we are going to go back to the future, let’s hope that Eurostar are able to reinstate their beautifully simple ticket to Any Dutch Station.
I will be first in the queue to buy one!
If they don’t I’ll just go by train to that jewel of the Essex coast; Southend, get in an orange aeroplane and hop across to Schipol. The Belgians, Brussels and the planet will all be losers.
We have had problems with trains including the wrong kind of snow, but the Dutch with their new high speed trains called Fyra seem to have got the wr0ng kind of everything, like politicians, strategy and trains. It’s all described here on a Dutch web site. This is the introduction.
The problems with the Fyra high-speed train service from Amsterdam to Brussels are as much to do with politicians as with the train manufacturer and railway operators, according to the main Dutch railway union chief.
Roel Berghuis of union FNV Spoor says the problems with the Fyra service go ‘well beyond the teething problems when a new train is brought in’.
So don’t knock Network Rail and the train operating companies too much, as it might happen here.
It was so cold today, that I joked to one of the driver/conductors on the 38 bus, that they were outsourcing them with Eskimos.
But seriously, on The One Show tonight, a doctor said that Eskimos shake their hands to keep them warm. I shall be trying it, if this weather persists.
I have heard from my friend in The Netherlands, that it could be as low as -13°C in Rotterdam with quite a bit of snow on the ground.
Hopefully, it won’t get that cold here tonight.
The instructions on my dinner tonight from Marks and Spencer are in English, French and surprisingly Dutch.
Does that mean their food shops are going to The Netherlands and/or Belgium?
This old news item in the Independent confirms that they are looking in The Hague and Rotterdam.
But then the CEO of Marks and Spencer is Dutch! Is that a form of nepotism to open in your own country?
In The Hague on Tuesday night, we went out to dinner to a restaurant called Sapori d’Italia in the Javastraat. It’s the second time, I’ve eaten in that road and although both weren’t cheap they were excellent and knew their gluten-free.
We had a lot of real Italian antipasti of which the most unusual was a very garlicky crostini on gluten-free bread. It was obviously, easy to make and surprisingly gluten-free toast makes a good crostini.
We also went for lunch on Wednesday to an Italian style cafe, where gluten-free was again no problem.
The Netherlands may have very quirky train ticketing, but their cooking for coeliacs is pretty good.