The Anonymous Widower

What Do You Do With An Unwanted Eurostar Train?

In Edition 865 of Rail Magazine, there is a short article which is entitled Eurostar ‘373s’ Leased To Thalys.

This is the first paragraph.

Class 373s that were due to be scrapped have instead been leased to Thalys for a year.

Class 373 trains and Thalys rolling stock are very similar, as both were built by GEC-Alsthom around the same time.

So just as ScotRail borrowed a few Class 365 trains to make up for a shortage, Thalys are borrowing a pair of Class 373 trains.

I wonder if passengers between Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, that they are getting a train, that was destined for the scrapyard?

November 7, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s All About Going Dutch For Eurostar!

In today’s Times, there is an article called Eurostar Sets Pace As Channel Tunnel Booms.

The article says.

Passengers on the Eurostar trains topped 3 million in the quarter, in increase of 12 per cent.

Apparently, there has been a big increase on the Amsterdam route, with more to come.

  • A third daily service will start next summer.
  • Direct return journeys could be possible next year.
  • Five London-Amsterdam return journeys could follow.

That all looks good and I’m sure it would be better if the terrible connecting trains to North Germany, that I wrote about in From Amsterdam To Hamburg The Hard Way,  were to be improved.

October 24, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Engine Change At Bad Bentheim

I’m on a train frim Amsterdam to Osnabruck. The train, which goes all the way to Berlin, is not very fast, but they’ve now stopped for ten minutes, whilst the Dutch engine is changed for a German one! Can’t both railway companies use the dame Euro-blighter and just have a change of drivers, as we do on Anglo-Scottish services.

Surely, these are the problems that the EU should solve. Or do German and Dutch rail unions make the RMT look like pussy-cats?

October 11, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

From Amsterdam To Hamburg The Hard Way

You might think that Amsterdam, which is a city of nearly two-and-a-half million people would have a good rail connection to the North German cities of Bremen and Hamburg, which have population of two-and-a-half and five million people, respectively.

But you would be wrong!

  • Amsterdam to Bremen is 354 km. and takes 3 hr. 26 min to drive, but the train takes 4 hr. 16 mins with a change at Osnabruck.
  • Amsterdam to Bremen is 464 km. and takes 4 hr. 35 min to drive, but the train takes 5 hr. 14 mins with a change at Osnabruck.

The train to Osnabruck is the same for both destinations and runs every two hours.

I arrived in Amsterdam at 12:32 and the next train left at 13:00, which I didn’t try to catch as I had to queue up for a ticket

So I caught the 15:00, as I had planned, which should get me into Hamburg at 20:14, hopefully in time for supper.

I would need the supper, when I arrived, as I could find nothing gluten-free worth eating in Amsterdam Centraal station. But I did have some EatNakd bars.

The train to Osnabruck, wasn’t one of Germany’s finest and the only customer service was the checking of tickets. I didn’t check, but I got the impression, that the onboard restaurant car had gone AWOL.

There wouldn’t have been anything I could eat, if there had been a restaurant car anyway!

Incidentally, I don’t travel First Class in Germany anymore, as all you get is a better seat, with not even any free coffee.

And you have to pay about five euros for a seat reservation!

The train to Osnabruck wasn’t the fastest either, doing about 80 mph most of the way, which compares badly to the 100 mph typically attained by trains on secondary main lines in the UK like London to Norwich.

There was also an Engine Change At Bad Bentheim.

I’ve had serious delay in Osnabruck before, as I wrote in From Hamburg To Osnabruck By Train.

For a time it looked like it would be episode two, but the Hamburg train only turned up about ten minutes late.

By running at 125 mph part of the way to Hamburg, the train had picked up a few minutes.

So I had a lovely supper as a reward.

Conclusion

I’ve had worse train journeys. But not many!

At 105.61 euros it wasn’t cheap either!

October 11, 2018 Posted by | Food, Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Eurostar To And From Amsterdam

On Tuesday I took Eurostar to Amsterdam.

The trip took three hours and forty-one minutes with stops at Brussels and Rotterdam.

The Brussels stop allows passengers to leave and join, but Rotterdam only allows passengers to leave.

As the number of passengers grow between London and Amsterdam, could there come a time, when some or all Amsterdam services don’t need to stop at Brussels.

If so, how much time would this save?

Current stops by Eurostar take the following times.

  • Ashford – 9 mins.
  • Calais – 3 mins
  • Ebbsfleet – 6 mins.
  • Lille – 14 minutes

These times have been calculated by looking at similar services that have different stopping patterns.

Note that, Calais and Ebbsfleet are faster as they are stops on the direct route.

So I suspect that if an Amsterdam service could go through Brussels without stopping, something between 9-12 minutes could be saved.

This could bring the journey time between London and Amsterdam closer to three and a half hours.

What would that time do for sales of tickets?

Eurostar Hold A Lot Of Cards

Eurostar are in a very good position on this route.

  • They could run a flagship express service twice a day for those in a hurry.
  • This could be backed up by slightly slower services calling at places from or to where passengers want to go. These would include Ebbsfleet, Ashford and Antwerp.
  • Immigration and security clearance is probably under thirty minutes at the start of the journey and perhaps ten at the end.
  • Immigration and security times will be reduced, as procedures get better.
  • St. Pancras, Rotterdam Centraal and Amsterdam Centraal are all very well-connected stations.
  • Extra services can be added as demand dictates.
  • Eurostar is more diabled-friendly and those in smaller scooters can drive in!
  • They could extend some Brussels services to Amsterdam.
  • I estimate that just under 4,000,000 people live within the North and South Circular Roads and have easy access by public transport to St. Pancras.

They can also create a very intelligent booking computer system, that optimises their services. Budget airlines have been doing this for years.

What About The Airlines?

Note the numbers of passengers who fly.

According to Skyscanner, there are upwards of two hundred flights a day between London and Amsterdam. An Airbus A320 holds 150 passengers, so if there are only a hundred per flight, that is 20,000 passengers per day.

Looking at the 6th of June, Eurostar are running nine trains between London and Brussels. As each new Class 374 train can hold 900 passengers, that is around 8,000 seats per day.

So the airlines have much more capacity than Eurostar and they can add and remove it, easier than Eurostar can?

The Comfort Factor

I haven’t travelled in steerage on the new trains, as I always pay about thirty-forty pounds extra for Premium Economy, so I get the following benefits.

  • A very pleasant gluten-free meal.
  • A much more spacious environment.
  • It’s also rare that I don’t get a window seat.

But if I did use steerage, it would be a more pleasant experience than flying on a budget airline.

I think it’s been about ten years since I flew to a city within a two-hour flight of London, where there was a rail alternative.

I also tend to come home by rail, where I often get a connection to Brussels or Paris to catch a late Eurostar to London.

Comparing London-Amsterdam With London-Edinburgh

Both routes take about four hours by train, with the Dutch route slightly quicker.

Generally, trains operate between London and Edinburgh half-hourly for much of the day, whereas Eurostar only runs twice a day.

Amsterdam/Rotterdam/Schipol Airport is surely a much bigger market in terms of possible passengers, than the Edinburgh catchment area.

I think we’ll see the astute Dutch, using Eurostar as a marketing tool to attract more passengers to the Netherlands and London’s next airport at Schipol.

Especially, as the British seem very happy with a four-hour train ride in comfort.

Eurostar Will Grow Between London And Amsterdam

For these and other rambling reasons, I think that Eurostar to Amsterdam will grow to be a successful route.

The one thing they must do, is to make it possible to come back to London, without having to clear immigration and security in Brussels.

But Eurostar know that!

Amsterdam Is Just The Hors D’Oeuvre!

Once Eurostar and the Dutch get the route between London and the Netherlands working smoothly, I don’t think it will be long before other routes are inaugurated.

Eurostar have said these could be.

  • Bordeaux
  • Cologne and Frankfurt
  • Geneva

The key will be getting the immigration and security smooth.

I think it will continue to improve, as it seems to do, every time I travel.

Remember, the Belgians, Dutch, French, Germans and Swiss will want it to be smooth, as they will want to market their delights to a whole new market, so suspect a lot of co-operation, despite the decision of Brexit.

But, I think that a limit on a journey time of four or five hours would cut out a lot of other destinations.

Although many of the destinations like Brussels, Cologne, Frankfurt, Geneva and Paris will be places to have an enjoyable day or two before taking another train ride further afield.

The 15:00 From Amsterdam Centraal To Berlin

This train that leaves Amsterdam Centraal just under two hours after the Eurostar arrives and can take you all the way to Berlin, arriving at 21:22.

But this train with a change at Osnabruck, gives you a stopping-off point to Bremen, Hamburg and the Northern part of Germany.

I first came across Osnabruck, when I was left there without a train by Deutsche Bahn, as I wrote about in From Hamburg To Osnabruck By Train.

But I found a delightful hotel on the station forecourt, called the Advena Hotel Hohenzollern.

Trip Advisor give it four out of five and currently say deals are available at under seventy pounds a night.

Osnabruck is not a tourist town, but it sits where the North-South and East-West rail routes cross.

Conclusion

As the network develops, I believe that a whole new form of tourism will take advantage.

 

 

 

May 17, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Eurostar Announces Launch Date For Amsterdam Service

The title of this post is the same as this article in Global Rail News.

This is said.

  • The service will start on April the 4th.
  • London to Amsterdam will take three hours and forty-one minutes.
  • London to Rotterdam will take three hours and one minute.
  • Trains will leave London at 08.31 and 17.31.

But going to London will require a stop at Brussels to clear UK Immigration and security.

Hopefully, by the end of 2019, they’ll be a direct service in both directions.,

February 9, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Express London-Amsterdam Eurostar Service Being Explored

The title of this post is the same as the title of this article on Global Rail News.

This is the first paragraph.

Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) has said it is in discussions with Eurostar to boost the number of journeys from Amsterdam to London in 2019.

The aim is to do the following.

  • Speed up the call at Brussels.
  • Increase services from two to three per day.
  • Reduce journey times from four to three and a half hours.

All very worthy, but I think Amsterdam even in three and a half hours may be a bit far, as the time by air is probably quicke.

 

February 5, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 3 Comments

Eurostar Is Testing To Amsterdam

This article in Global Rail News is entitled Velaro Under Test In The Netherlands. This is the first two paragraphs.

NS and Siemens have completed the first tests of Eurostar’s new e320 train on the Dutch rail network.

Eurostar plans to launch direct services between Amsterdam Central and London St Pancras in 2017 and has now begun testing its new fleet on the Dutch HSL-Zuid.

It would appear that St. Pancras to Amsterdam will take about four hours.

I suspect they still got a few details to sort out.

  • Immigration control, as the UK is not in Schengen.
  • The Dutch signalling system.
  • The unusual Dutch train voltage of 1,500 VDC, as opposed to the British, French and HSL-Zuid of 25 KVAC.
  • To complicate matters the Germans use 15 KVAC and drive on the right.

It’s a pity for many, that HSL-Zuid was built deliberately to avoid calling at Den Haag.

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

From Hamburg To Osnabruck By Train

Although, I was intending to go from Hamburg to Amsterdam, as I said in this post, things didn’t work out as I and probably Deutsche Bahn intended.

The train was a few minutes late out of Hamburg and my First Class carriage seemed to be missing  from the German IC train I was on. (Note the missing E!)  Or possibly I couldn’t get near it, as the aisles were blocked with cases. If I’ve complained about Virgin’s services to Glasgow in the past, then this was complete travel hell, that I’ve never encountered on British trains in the worst of times.

At Osnabruck, I was supposed to change onto another IC train for Amsterdam, but of course by the time we got there I’d missed it.

I waited for perhaps two hours on the station at Osnabruck and nothing seemed to be happening.  There was no information posted and those in Information, told me to wait for the next Amsterdam train.  But they had no idea of when it would arrive.

One lady, who lived locally, had told me that the hotel by the station wasn’t at all bad, so as I had nothing to do I took the precaution of seeing if they had any rooms. A pleasant fraulein told me they had a few at €80 including breakfast.

So about ten, I put myself out of my misery and booked into the Advena Hotel Hohenzollern.

Advena Hotel Hohenzollern

Advena Hotel Hohenzollern

It was a decision I didn’t regret.

I thought that I might regret going to McDonalds for a bite to eat, but the fries and Coke had no effect. The trouble was that the information on the back of the paper on the tray is unreadable because it’s so small. So I assumed that they were as in the UK, and gluten-free! I did think though, that McDonalds were showing some very unsuitable adverts for their target clientèle.

On the other hand, breakfast in the hotel of fish, scrambled eggs, juice and coffee was excellent.

I would certainly use this hotel or one of the other, Advena hotels again. Also as a lot of the trains seem to go through Osnabruck, this hotel is a convenient place to break a journey.

June 20, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 10 Comments

Anne Frank

I said in the piece on Robert Fisk, that the next time I returned to Amsterdam, I would visit the Anne Frank House.  Strangely later I went over the library at the Hotel Ambassade, where I saw a signed book by Fisk.  It was one of many hundreds, by lots of famous authors!

I first visited the Anne Frank House in 1968 on my honeymoon.  This was my second or possibly my third, as I can’t be sure that we didn’t visit, when we came to Amsterdam with the children around 1980. It was very different then and a much smaller museum without the new building to the right as you face the original house.  This was added in 1999.

Perhaps, the building has lost some of its impact.  When it was just the house it was smaller and this added to the claustrophobia, that Anne and her family must have suffered.  But there is now a lot more information. 

As I said in the original post, “when we forget the story of Anne and the diary, then we will probably have lost our humanity.”

December 13, 2009 Posted by | Travel, World | , , | Leave a comment