Nooit meer met de trein naar Londen

Ik denk niet dat ik binnenkort nog met de trein naar Londen ga.

Het is al niet de meest aantrekkelijke propositie. Van Amsterdam naar London St. Pancras kost je toch een uur of zes en een half1. De treinen hebben geen stroomaansluitingen, dus je kunt niet voluit laptoppen. Verder moet je uiterlijk een half uur van tevoren op Brussel inchecken, anders mag je niet mee.

Waarom doen we het dan? Treinreizen heeft iets fijns, het is continu met minder wachten en veiligheidsmaatregelen dan je hebt als je vliegt én je komt middenin Londen uit in plaats van op een vliegveld ergens in een buitenwijk.

Monument Station

Het was tot nu toe allemaal nog wel te harden. Maar dit weekend ben ik naar Londen heen en weer geweest en vrienden zeiden het al, de internationale trein naar Brussel-Midi is gewoon te onbetrouwbaar.

Heenweg

Op de heenweg had mijn trein van Rotterdam naar Brussel 53 minuten vertraging. Vragen bij de Hispeed balie zorgde dat ze naar Brussel belden zodat ze daar rekening hielden met me met de checkin.
De vertraging die ik had was net genoeg dat ik direct de trein in kon. Tien minuten later en ik had hem gemist, maar dan kon ik me laten omboeken zeiden ze.

Terugweg

Vertrek

Terug uit Londen was mijn aansluitende trein naar Amsterdam op Brussel geannuleerd. Hij reed gewoon niet en de informatievoorziening was erg matig. Met wat hulp van de mensen op de balie via Antwerpen de volgende trein genomen met dus weer een uur vertraging.

Reinier ging een paar dagen later terug en hij had iets vergelijkbaars.

Ik weet niet wat het is, maar de Eurostar zelf rijdt precies op tijd. Waarom Nederland en België dan geen fatsoenlijk rijdende treinverbinding in stand kunnen houden, is me een raadsel. Zeven-en-een-half uur plus stress voor dit korte stukje is niet acceptabel2.

De volgende keer doe ik het wel via Easyjet over Stansted/Gatwick/Luton. Het kost een half uur van Amsterdam af en is volgens mij nog goedkoper ook. Het milieu zoekt het maar even uit. Natuurlijk mocht er verandering komen in de situatie dan hoor ik het graag.

Anvers Central

De Groene Keuze

Wat mensen die zich bezig houden met groene initiatieven vaak vergeten is dat de Groene Keuze minstens net zo goedkoop, makkelijk en mooi moet zijn als de ‘slechte’ keuze. Het is misschien moeilijk, maar mainstream gaan ís moeilijk. Als je niet voldoet aan die voorwaarden blijft de groene oplossing een marginaal alternatief dat alleen maar door eco-freaks gebruikt wordt3.

Update (21/12/2009): En ik ben blij dat ik het heb afgezworen. Deze week zijn een heleboel mensen door de vrieskou een uur of 16 in de tunnel vast komen te zitten (BBC News). Niet meer doen die trein.

  1. Tijdsverschil niet meegerekend.
  2. En daarnaast is de informatievoorziening en de situatie in de treinen etc. ver onder de maat. Ik weet niet of het met de onderontwikkeling door die Westerschelde of wat dan ook te maken heeft, maar we boffen hier wel met de NS.
  3. Of je moet het bij wet verplicht maken zoals nu met de spaarlamp is gebeurd maar volgens dezelfde logica kun je ook de auto verbieden…

12 comments so far

  1. Reinier Zwitserloot September 8, 2009 2:36 pm

    Oone of the many brits I was shepherding to Amsterdam mentioned that the amount of power required by a hypothetical TGV (300kmh) connection from AMS to London via the chunnel is, on a per passenger basis, almost as bad CO2 wise as flying.

    There are a lot of caveats there, certainly. To wit:

    – I don’t believe it. I can’t find any research on this, however. Any idea where I could look?

    – As usual in environmental discussions held in the past 3 years, this focus on CO2 is ridiculous. If we solved the entire CO2 problem tomorrow, the environmental issue would not be solved. Even global warming/climate change (a subset of environmental) wouldn’t be solved. It’s a tiny subset of a small subset of the environmental problem.

    – It presumes coal and gas fired electricity, and not e.g. nuclear which is mostly what the french TGVs run on. Rabid treehuggers won’t like this, but as long as there are no reasonable alternatives, nuclear is a pretty good environmental option. Of course, on the trajectory from AMS to London, there’s not much nuclear power to be had, nor any other environmentally low-profile energy, such as water or geothermal, so it’s a valid assumption.

    – Planes are hard to scale, environmentally. Even if you manage to put a nuclear powerdrive on a plane (security, anyone?), there’s no obvious way that I know of that can run a large passenger jet on electricity alone. This is of course quite different with trains. We’d have to go back to prop planes. Is there a way to replace the majority of energy use on a _jet_ plane with electricity?

    – AMS London is a rather unique proposition, in that the train takes a sizable detour compared to the plane.

    It would be interesting to see some numbers on the environmental impact of a city hop flight vs. a high speed train ride.

    On a related note: This week, the major dutch train transport provider (NS) has started a pilot project to run high speed train traffic from Amsterdam straight to Rotterdam. Will start at 160kmh, and are planning to extend to 300kmh (though until that train tunnel gets built in Delft, it’ll have to slow down near The Hague and enter rotterdam at the original 160kmh – that narrow bridge in Delft is not up to spec and never will be).

    If for once the NS can get their ass in gear, and cooperate with the belgian train system, they may just at some point start offering tickets to london that involve a 300kmh ride from Ams or Rotterdam straight to brussels, with priority so that they rarely get delayed, and scheduled to arrive exactly 30 minutes prior to the eurostar’s departure.

    What boggles my mind is the competitive FAIL of the train services here. There is clearly no issue of a lack of supply on the train side; they can easily run more trains if the demand exists to fill them. The price and capacity of the train amslondon connection is what it is today primarily due to the stupidity of this connection and the lack of competitiveness compared to easyjet/ryanair’s flight services.

    Including the trip from stansted or luton to the heart of london, a properly organized fast train service that connects to brussel with a 30 minute window, or, better yet, passport control at amsterdam station and a train that goes straight to london without a transfer, can be faster than the flight. That should net about 3x the interest in the train journey overnight. I can’t see what, other than bureaucratic stupidity, is holding the train services back from making this happen.

    I doubt they can ever tackle the pure speed market; it’s kind of hard to beat the RotterdamLondon City airport service VLM offers, but those services that land in london city are invariably expensive. However, being competitive (speedwise, and pricewise) with just about every other flight seems simple, and they’d win that fight based on the convenience of the train vs. the constant interruptions of the full journey by air (including travel to the inner city).

  2. Cristiano Betta September 8, 2009 3:15 pm

    I’m actually guessing the fail on the AMS-Brussel connection is 2-country problem. It’s probably economically uninteresting for both, and therefore any optimisation and improvements are unlikely.

  3. alper September 8, 2009 3:17 pm

    From Twitter comes this suggestion which may be useful:
    http://twitter.com/2525/status/3839698780

    @Cristiano: It is economically uninteresting to have a fast and reliable connection between the capitals of two neighboring countries one of which contains the seat of government of Europe?

  4. Mark September 8, 2009 6:21 pm

    @Reinier: the thing you’re saying about the high speed train is nonsense. The HSL is a separate track that doesn’t even run near Delft nor The Hague. Check out http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hogesnelheidslijn_Schiphol_-_Antwerpen.

    One explanation for yesterday’s cancellations of the Amsterdam-Brussels train might be that they’re using those same trains on the HSL between Amsterdam and Rotterdam, but I doubt NS Hispeed would be dumb enough not to arrange other trains for the Amsterdam-Brussels line.

  5. Dennis Stevense September 8, 2009 7:51 pm

    @Reinier: Maybe slightly off-topic, but the Fyra (Amsterdam-Rotterdam high speed connection) does not go through Delft, in fact, I believe it doesn’t even come anywhere near The Hague as it has it’s own dedicated track.

  6. Reinier Zwitserloot September 8, 2009 8:44 pm

    No Mark/Dennis, very on topic, and excellent news. Maybe one day comfortable fast train travel from amsterdam to london will be possible after all, and thanks for the corrections and links.

    It looks like certain parts (antwerp – brussels, amsterdam – hoofddorp, and a bit around breda) will require slowdown, but on the whole, a train that only calls at amsterdam, ams airport, rotterdam, antwerp, and brussels, driving 300kmh on half the track, should cut off almost 2 hours (if it includes connecting nicely for the eurostar).

  7. Reinier Zwitserloot September 8, 2009 8:50 pm

    By the way, this is what the 300kmh train is going to look like. Weird design.

    http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Ansaldo_Breda_V250.JPG

    The wikipedia page reports a plan (from 2007) to check if a eurostar route, calling at antwerpen, rotterdam, and amsterdam, can be created via the HSL-Zuid/HSL4 line, and a bit in between at slower speed. Here’s hoping they’ll do just that.

  8. Dennis Stevense September 8, 2009 9:43 pm

    NS HiSpeed did arrange for other trains going to Brussels: sometimes they’re Belgian ICs, sometimes they’re Dutch ICs (which are in fact the same as the regular ones, just painted blue/yellow).

    I know, the new/future locomotives look butt-ugly…

  9. alper September 8, 2009 9:48 pm

    @Reinier: I don’t think that locomotive is that ugly. But they had an opportunity to make something completely badass and they didn’t, which is kinda hard to forgive.

  10. Peter Robinett September 9, 2009 3:51 am

    +1 for London City

    If you get lucky you can find very attractive tickets from AMS to LCY. Taking advantage of code-sharing can help: my flights last January were KLM tickets for a VLM flight using an Air France City Jet plane.

  11. Sjors September 14, 2009 11:00 am

    Gewoon met de boot komen de volgende keer :)

  12. Trein naar londen March 11, 2010 5:09 pm

    Recently I traveled to Londen by boat, and that took me far too long. I really prefer going by Airplane or train. Yes, it takes a while, but it is very relaxing to travel by train. Next time, I will book a train ticket again!

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