The Anonymous Widower

Thoughts On Eurostar To North Netherlands And North West Germany

I have now taken Eurostar to Hamburg twice, with a change at Amsterdam Centraal.

The first time, I took two German Inter City trains, with a change at Osnabruck. I wrote about it in From Amsterdam To Hamburg The Hard Way.

On my latest trip, I took the following route.

  • An overnight stay in Amsterdam
  • Train from Amsterdam Centraal to Groningen with changes at Almere Centrum and Zwolle
  • An overnight stay in Groningen
  • Rail Replacement Bus from Groningen to Leer
  • Train from Leer to Bremen
  • Train from Bremen to Bremerhaven
  • Train from Bremerhaven to Hamburg

Note.

  1. There are no direct trains between Amsterdam Centraal and Groningen. Most involve a quick interchange at Almere or Utrecht.
  2. Amsterdam Centraal to Groningen is electrified.
  3. Amsterdam Centraal to Groningen takes two hours six minutes on the fastest train.
  4. When the bridge over the Ems is rebuilt, there should be an hourly train between Groningen and Leer, rather than a two-hourly bus.
  5. Leer to Bremen is electrified and takes under an hour and a half.
  6. I took a roundabout route from Bremen and Hamburg, as I wanted to check that the hydrogen-powered trains were running.
  7. There are direct trains between Bremen and Hamburg.

Could The Slower Route Be Improved?

My thoughts are as follows.

Between Amsterdam Centraal And Groningen

Consider the following.

  • The Dutch probably planned the timetable before Eurostar served Amsterdam.
  • Eurostar is going to three trains per day between London and Amsterdam
  • There are new Dutch InterCity trains on order for other routes.
  • A direct service between Amsterdam Centraal and Groningen could probably be under two hours, with perhaps two stops.
  • On my trip, the trains trundled along at 50-60 mph, which isn’t very fast.

For these reasons, I would rate it highly lightly that the Dutch will think about a direct service.

Between Groningen And Leer

Without doubt, the problem on this section is the bridge over the Ems.

I estimate the following.

  • The mainly single-track railway without electrification between Groningen and Ihrhove near Leer is about seventy kilometres.
  • After the bridge is rebuilt, one of Arriva’s Stadler GTWs could do the journey in perhaps 30-35 minutes.
  • A bi-mode Stadler Flirt, like one of Greater Anglia’s  Class 755 trains, which have a top speed of 100 mph and bags of grunt could probably break the half-hour.

Some web sites put the opening of the new bridge in 2024. I’m reasonably certain, that by that date, an electric train with these power systems would be able to handle the route.

  • Dutch electrification
  • German electrification
  • Batteries

Bombardier and Stadler are certainly aiming to have battery-powered trains in service by the bridge opening date.

Between Leer and Bremen/Hamburg

This electrified double-track section has the following timings.

  • Leer and Bremen – 1:24
  • Leer and Hamburg 2:23

There doesn’t appear to be any major improvements needed.

Times On The Two Routes Compared

How do the fastest times on the two routes compare?

Via Osnabruck

This is the only route available and the fastest times are something like.

  • Amsterdam Centraal and Bremen – 4:16
  • Amsterdam Centraal and Hamburg – 5:14

It appears that most services go to both Bremen and Hamburg.

Every time, I’ve changed at Osnabruck, the second train has been late.

Via Groningen

I would estimate the best fastest times are something like.

  • Amsterdam Centraal and Bremen – three hours
  • Amsterdam Centraal and Hamburg – four hours

I am very surprised that the route via Groningen could appear to be over an hour faster.

Trains For An Amsterdam Centraal and Bremen/Hamburg Service Via Groningen

At present, this service would not be possible, because of the bridge over the Ems.

The route has the following characteristics.

  • Dutch electrification at 1.5 KVDC between Amsterdam Centraal and Groningen.
  • No electrification from Groningen between Groningen and Ihrhove, which is seventy kilometres.
  • German electrification at 15 KVAC between Ihrhove and Bremen/Hamburg

There are several trains that can handle both electrification systems at the two ends of the route, it’s just the seventy kilometres in the middle.

In my view there are several ways to bridge the gap.

Electrification

The Dutch or the Germans can probably electrify the line on time and on budget better than we could.

But which electrification system would be used?

Diesel

Using a dual-mode bi-mode train, that could also run on diesel would be a possibility and I’m sure that Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler could supply a more or less off-the-the-shelf train, that could run at up to 200 kph where possible and handle the section without electrification on diesel.

But using diesel in an area developing a green economy based on wind power and hydrogen, is probably not a good marketing idea.

Hydrogen

If diesel can handle the route, I’m certain that hydrogen could be used on the section without electrification.

Battery

The section without electrification is only seventy kilometres and in a few years time will be totally in range of a battery train, that charged the batteries on the end sections. Power changeover could be arranged in Leer and Groningen stations if this was thought to be more reliable.

Note that in Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I write that Hitachi are claiming a battery range of sixty miles or a hundred kilometres with a Class 385 train with batteries in a few years time. Hitachi won’t be the only train manufacturer with the technology to build a suitable product.

I have to conclude that Groningen and Leer is a classic application for battery power.

Intermediate Stops For An Amsterdam Centraal and Bremen/Hamburg Service Via Groningen

Obviously, the Dutch and the Germans, should know their market and would know where the trains should stop.

Having experienced the route in the last few days, the following stops could be possible.

  • Almere Centrum
  • Zwolle
  • Groningen
  • Leer
  • Oldenburg

But with modern trains, that have a minimum dwell time at stations, there may be more stops than some might think.

Which Company Would Run The Service?

I don’t know anything about the complications of running international trains, even when they are totally in the Schengen  Zone.

In the UK, Amsterdam to Hamburg is the sort of service that would be proposed by a well-funded Open Access Operator.

The company, who would benefit most from this service is Eurostar.

So could we see Eurostar operating or sponsoring Open Access feeder services in Europe, using say 200 kph trains?

Conclusion

It would appear that the following journey times are possible.

  • Amsterdam Centraal and Bremen – three hours
  • Amsterdam Centraal and Hamburg – four hours

For this to be possible the following is needed.

  • The bridge over the Ems is rebuilt.
  • Battery power works as its developers hope it will.

How many other routes in the world, would benefit from a similar philosophy?

 

March 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hamburg

I took these pictures in the centre of Hamburg, after taking a U-Bahn train to the Rathaus.

I should say that it took me under thirty minutes to get to the Airport from this area. So it was a good place to kill some time, rather than wait at the Airport.

March 29, 2019 Posted by | World | | Leave a comment

Hamburg S-Bahn Trains

These trains of the Hamburg S-Bahn are fairly typical of Germany.

Note.

  1. They have step-free access from platform to train, which is rare on the German rail network.
  2. There are no phone charging points or wi-fi, but on the surface there is a good 4G signal.
  3. The seats are not as comfortable as those on a Class 378 train.

They seem to cope reasonably well with heavy traffic in the Peak.

March 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

My Hotel In Hamburg

These pictures show my hotel and my room in Hamburg; The Europäischer Hof.

My room was unusual in that it was a proper single room, with everything I needed.

Except one thing; a BBC channel for the News.

I have now stayed in Hamburg in two hotels, where I got a free bus, U-Bahn ans S-Bahn ticket.

The ticket covers the main city zones including the |Airport.

That is an idea I like.

October 14, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | 2 Comments

The Relaxed Pace Of German Commuter Stations

I am at Buxtehade station on the outskirts of Hamburg and the area looks like it could be a suburb typical of those around big cities all over the world. But it is so relaxed compared to others I’ve visited.

Note.

  1. The diesel-hauled commuter service running under wires.
  2. No-one and the trains don’t seem to be in a hurry despite it being around nine in the morning.
  3. Trains seem to wait several minutes at each station.
  4. Staff were not to be seen.

In addition, there was absolutely no information about the hydrogen trains, that I could find.

 

October 12, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 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 | Transport | , , , , | 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 Hamburg 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, Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Would I Go Back To Hamburg Again?

Hamburg disappointed me.  I think most of this was because I couldn’t get a decent pocket guide and it was just so hot and humid.

I suspect, I won’t return, as if I want to spend a night in that part of Germany, I’ve found a good alternative in Osnabruck. But I would take the Bird Flight Line again!

June 20, 2013 Posted by | World | , | 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 | Transport | , , , , , | 10 Comments

No Maps At Hamburg Station

There were no maps at Hamburg station. But there were cigarette adverts.

No Maps At Hamburg Station

No Maps At Hamburg Station

In fact, there were cigarette adverts all over the city.

June 20, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment