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.
I complained to Eurostar about the lack of this ticket after my last trip to The Hague.
I got this reply.
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Although this product was withdrawn from our website around the time that the High Speed link was introduced the position regarding the sale of this ticket on our website is under review.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.
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?
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.
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!
The gallery contains examples of many great painters and is surrounded by sculpture displayed in a wooded landscape.
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.
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.
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.