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Old December 11th, 2014, 10:15 PM   #2441
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Is there an actual definition of R-net, other than 'high quality public transport in the Randstad'?

What is the point of Abellio running it rather than NS? Does Abellio have lower costs than NS, for example lower wages and/or worse terms and conditions?
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Old December 12th, 2014, 02:57 AM   #2442
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Originally Posted by da_scotty View Post
Not the same E186 fleet.

The Beneluxtrein uses belgian locomotives, but the same coaches
The IC-services use Dutch E186 (the yellow/blue ones) with the same coaches!
So what is limiting, today, the usage of the Belgian machines on HSL Zuid?
My guess is that they can't introduce the stop in Breda before they have the driving coaches available.
I don't know if those machines are ready for HS operation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
However, I think that this Benelux service should use the HSL between Rotterdam and Hoofddorp, OR originate in Den Haag Centraal.
There's already plent of services connecting Schiphol and Rotterdam via HSL.
About going to Amsterdam instead of Den Haag CS, I must admit I'm not 100% sure of what are the intentions of this operation. As it's designed today, it's a pretty pointless train between DH and Amsterdam (I'll explain why). The only explanation I have is to let it live as a "non-Thalys flagship" connection between the capitals, maybe meant as a cheaper alternative but still direct.

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Originally Posted by MrAronymous View Post
I checked my schedule for my usual Schiphol-Rotterdam commute for next week and it turns out IC Brussel is 2 minutes slower than the normal Intercity service, eventhough it skips 5 stations. How on earth is that even possible.
I was wondering that too and I analyzed the full timetable between Roosendaal and Amsterdam. Long story short: even skipping stops it's impossible to fit a faster train in between the rest of IC and Sprinter traffic, at least between Roosendaal and Den Haag HS.
Even introducing some tricks (which would put in danger the reliability of the other trains) the final gain would be just a few minutes.
Between HS and Amsterdam CS there was some margin for more speed, but they chose not to use it.

So, in practice, it will just be the shadow of the Vlissingen - Lelystad IC, running 7 minutes behind it and sharing the same times even without calling at many stations.

Now, this situation leads to a lot of flaws, IMHO:
1) Roosendaal doesn't have a lot of connections to the north, and running the Beneluxtrein close to another IC wastes the extra capacity;
2) It skips gate stations in main cities (Sloterdijk, Lelylaan, Laan van NOI, Blaak) with no advantage for those departing from main stations, but with a big loss of time for passengers using a metro connection;
3) Rotterdam, Delft, Den Haag HS lack a direct link with Amsterdam Zuid (and Almere), while they have a lot of trains going to CS. A new train is added... and it goes to a place already well served.


This situation is wrong because it mixes the disadvantages of an express (skipping places) and and IR (slow). They should decide what to do with it: give it all the stops or speed it up.
I'd choose the stops... much more people served, while speeding up the time gain would be ridiculous anyway.
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Old December 12th, 2014, 08:42 AM   #2443
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Originally Posted by Wilhem275 View Post
So what is limiting, today, the usage of the Belgian machines on HSL Zuid?
The reason used to be a different ETCS software version. The Belgian machines are leased and have software that works on the Betuweroute. That version causes problems on both the HSL Zuid /HSL4.
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Old December 12th, 2014, 10:52 AM   #2444
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I can think of numerous services in other countries where a fast service is scheduled to sit behind a local train. Usually when the track is so busy that there is no point trying to put the fast train in front, as it would probably get stuck behind the previous train if it is late.
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Old December 12th, 2014, 11:23 AM   #2445
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Originally Posted by Wilhem275 View Post
I was wondering that too and I analyzed the full timetable between Roosendaal and Amsterdam. Long story short: even skipping stops it's impossible to fit a faster train in between the rest of IC and Sprinter traffic, at least between Roosendaal and Den Haag HS.
Even introducing some tricks (which would put in danger the reliability of the other trains) the final gain would be just a few minutes.
Between HS and Amsterdam CS there was some margin for more speed, but they chose not to use it.

So, in practice, it will just be the shadow of the Vlissingen - Lelystad IC, running 7 minutes behind it and sharing the same times even without calling at many stations.

Now, this situation leads to a lot of flaws, IMHO:
1) Roosendaal doesn't have a lot of connections to the north, and running the Beneluxtrein close to another IC wastes the extra capacity;
2) It skips gate stations in main cities (Sloterdijk, Lelylaan, Laan van NOI, Blaak) with no advantage for those departing from main stations, but with a big loss of time for passengers using a metro connection;
3) Rotterdam, Delft, Den Haag HS lack a direct link with Amsterdam Zuid (and Almere), while they have a lot of trains going to CS. A new train is added... and it goes to a place already well served.


This situation is wrong because it mixes the disadvantages of an express (skipping places) and and IR (slow). They should decide what to do with it: give it all the stops or speed it up.
I'd choose the stops... much more people served, while speeding up the time gain would be ridiculous anyway.
The bottleneck with the Vlissingen IC is a new problem that didn't used to exist when the Beneluxtrein old style (let's call it BOS) was still around.

At the time, when I wanted to visit my parents in Zeeland, I had two options:

Take the IC Amsterdam - Vlissingen which ran once every hour.
Take the BOS Amsterdam - Brussels and transfer to the stoptrein Roosendaal - Vlissingen in Roosendaal (which ran once every hour).

You could go back to that, I doubt anyone would really mind. It would free up the space needed to run a faster Benelux service like the BOS used to be.
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Old December 12th, 2014, 11:39 AM   #2446
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The bottleneck with the Vlissingen IC is a new problem that didn't used to exist when the Beneluxtrein old style (let's call it BOS) was still around.

At the time, when I wanted to visit my parents in Zeeland, I had two options:

Take the IC Amsterdam - Vlissingen which ran once every hour.
Take the BOS Amsterdam - Brussels and transfer to the stoptrein Roosendaal - Vlissingen in Roosendaal (which ran once every hour).

You could go back to that, I doubt anyone would really mind. It would free up the space needed to run a faster Benelux service like the BOS used to be.
But NS streamlined the operations between Vlissingen and Roosendaal.

Moreover, the situation of this new Benelux train is temporary, it won't last for long until it is transferred for the best link with Belgium - HSL 4/Zuid.

Finally, the "BOS" was prone to delays, especially northbound trains arriving at Roosendaal, which made travelling from Zeeland to northern areas unreliable on those hourly trains.

I actually think they should cut this new Benelux train to Roosendaal, and put two extra Den Haag-Roosendaal trains instead. Passengers could transfer in Roosendaal to/froum Belgium until the new service on HSL Zuid/4 starts.
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Old December 12th, 2014, 11:43 AM   #2447
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Originally Posted by Slagathor View Post
Take the IC Amsterdam - Vlissingen which ran once every hour.
Take the BOS Amsterdam - Brussels and transfer to the stoptrein Roosendaal - Vlissingen in Roosendaal (which ran once every hour).

You could go back to that, I doubt anyone would really mind. It would free up the space needed to run a faster Benelux service like the BOS used to be.
When I heard that the Benelux train was going to revert to going to Amsterdam again, I assumed they were bringing back that old timetable. It wouldn't make any difference in journey time if you assume that the connections wait for delayed trains in Roosendaal. But I presume we have the existing situation because Zeelanders were unhappy with the old timetable?
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Old December 12th, 2014, 11:52 AM   #2448
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But NS streamlined the operations between Vlissingen and Roosendaal.

Moreover, the situation of this new Benelux train is temporary, it won't last for long until it is transferred for the best link with Belgium - HSL 4/Zuid.
Honestly, I haven't really understood what's supposed to happen with this thing.

Quote:
Finally, the "BOS" was prone to delays, especially northbound trains arriving at Roosendaal, which made travelling from Zeeland to northern areas unreliable on those hourly trains.

I actually think they should cut this new Benelux train to Roosendaal, and put two extra Den Haag-Roosendaal trains instead. Passengers could transfer in Roosendaal to/froum Belgium until the new service on HSL Zuid/4 starts.
The BOS was prone to delays because NS and NMBS were expecting the Fyra and at that point ceased to carry out proper maintenance. The locs were breaking down all the time. Cleaning services were also cut (it was filthy). With the right priorities, it could be just as reliable as any other train.

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Originally Posted by radamfi View Post
When I heard that the Benelux train was going to revert to going to Amsterdam again, I assumed they were bringing back that old timetable. It wouldn't make any difference in journey time if you assume that the connections wait for delayed trains in Roosendaal. But I presume we have the existing situation because Zeelanders were unhappy with the old timetable?
I imagine NS are keeping the timetable because it was hard fought in the first place.

The original plan was to close a number of railway stations in Zeeland so they could run a real IC from Vlissingen to Amsterdam and get rid of the stoptrein. The provincial government of Zeeland was fiercely opposed to this so we eventually ended up with the current compromise where the IC Amsterdam - Vlissingen continues as a stoptrein after Roosendaal. I think there may be some financial incentives from the provincial government to keep it that way.

I guess NS would hate to open up that can of worms again.
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Old December 12th, 2014, 12:14 PM   #2449
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Honestly, I haven't really understood what's supposed to happen with this thing.
The intention is to link Breda with Belgium, and by doing so also linking points served by the ICs that call at Breda. The total time saving between Rotterdam and Antwerpen will be thin, but the time savings from passengers coming from Breda itself and Tilburg, 's-Hertogenbosch, Arnhem, Nijmegen, Eindhoven, Venlo will be considerable. Passengers from Rotterdam have access to Thalys services anyway.

Zeeland and Roosendaal can still connect to Belgium with the local train to Antwerpen C.

Quote:
The BOS was prone to delays because NS and NMBS were expecting the Fyra and at that point ceased to carry out proper maintenance. The locs were breaking down all the time. Cleaning services were also cut (it was filthy). With the right priorities, it could be just as reliable as any other train.
There is more to it. Relying on an international train to provide domestic connections expose it to delays, strikes (such as next Monday), coordination problems etc. When the IC Berlin were a core part of Twente rail services, it often affected mobility there, especially on trains coming from Germany (often delayed). Problem is that congestion between Dordrecth and Amsterdam is more serious than between Hengelo and Amsterdam...
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Old December 12th, 2014, 01:49 PM   #2450
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Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
There is more to it. Relying on an international train to provide domestic connections expose it to delays, strikes (such as next Monday), coordination problems etc. When the IC Berlin were a core part of Twente rail services, it often affected mobility there, especially on trains coming from Germany (often delayed). Problem is that congestion between Dordrecth and Amsterdam is more serious than between Hengelo and Amsterdam...
I suppose there is a precedent for that. The extreme case is where SBB didn't trust the EC train to Milan to provide the connection between Zurich and Bellinzona so ran a domestic IC train at almost the same time.
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Old December 12th, 2014, 01:54 PM   #2451
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The intention is to link Breda with Belgium, and by doing so also linking points served by the ICs that call at Breda. The total time saving between Rotterdam and Antwerpen will be thin
Hopefully when 'son of Benelux' train reverses in Breda, you will be able to cross platform to a fast train via HSL-Zuid to Rotterdam, Schiphol and Amsterdam, which if timed good, would leave for Rotterdam while the reversing takes place.
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Old December 12th, 2014, 02:14 PM   #2452
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Hopefully when 'son of Benelux' train reverses in Breda, you will be able to cross platform to a fast train via HSL-Zuid to Rotterdam, Schiphol and Amsterdam, which if timed good, would leave for Rotterdam while the reversing takes place.
No point on a cross-platform transfer to Rotterdam, since the Benelux train will travel on HSL Zuid between Breda and Rotterdam as well.

If they want to have cross-platform transfers, priority should be given to transfer to trains going east. And then you can't have double-cross-platform transfers unless specific track layout is in place, which I doubt to be the case of future Breda station.
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Old December 12th, 2014, 02:49 PM   #2453
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No point on a cross-platform transfer to Rotterdam, since the Benelux train will travel on HSL Zuid between Breda and Rotterdam as well.

If they want to have cross-platform transfers, priority should be given to transfer to trains going east. And then you can't have double-cross-platform transfers unless specific track layout is in place, which I doubt to be the case of future Breda station.
But won't there will be frequent trains (at least every 15 minutes?) between Breda and Amsterdam? It will presumably get at least 10 minutes to turn the train around in Breda so chances are it would be quicker to get off and get on the Breda to Amsterdam train. Only people going to Den Haag or people who don't want to change would stay on the Benelux.

Last edited by radamfi; December 12th, 2014 at 02:54 PM.
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Old December 12th, 2014, 03:16 PM   #2454
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Old December 13th, 2014, 04:23 AM   #2455
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Moreover, the situation of this new Benelux train is temporary, it won't last for long until it is transferred for the best link with Belgium - HSL 4/Zuid.
This is true only up to a certain point. In the future there will be a major (and positive, IMO) change of what happens south of Rotterdam, but routes and problems north of it will be the same.
So the limiting conditions will still be almost the same. There could be a bit more margin by the time the four tracks Schiedam - Rotterdam CS will all belong to the main line to Den Haag and the Delft doubling will be complete. But don't expect an incredible increase of capacity.

Also, one more step could be a rerouting of this (or some other) service to Amsterdam Zuid, with the completion of the Zuidtak doubling.

But for the next years the infrastractural limits will be pretty much the same, so it's pointless shaping that service today as a speedy connection it cannot grant.

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There is more to it. Relying on an international train to provide domestic connections expose it to delays, strikes (such as next Monday), coordination problems etc.
This is true but it's not the core problem here, for two reasons:
- there's plenty of internal offer between Roosendaal and Amsterdam, so no one will be actually relying on the Beneluxtrein for internal connections (while the IC to Berlin plays a big part of the offer to Hengelo, as well as the mentioned Milan - Switzerland connection for the Swiss)
- Brussel - Amsterdam, in European terms, can hardly be considered a long-distance international service. On a Dutch or Belgian scale it's something "bigger", but it is in no way more exposed to long-distance disturbances than a Berlin - Dortmund or Torino - Venezia service.

Also, NS is usally able to cope with local disturbances by applying a limited timetable, for example limiting the "future Beneluxtrein" to Breda on a day of Belgian strike.
It could also help if the Belgians could avoid to go on strike every other day...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slagathor View Post
The bottleneck with the Vlissingen IC is a new problem that didn't used to exist when the Beneluxtrein old style (let's call it BOS) was still around.
Actually the real bottlenecks are:
- two tracks between Lage Zwaluwe and Dordrecht (doubling of Dordrecht - Dordrecht Zuid was planned, but I don't think it's under discussion now*)
- the system of IC+Sprinter every 15' centered on Den Haag HS, very oriented to enhance connections but also consuming a lot of capacity.

I don't think the -admirably ambitious- 15' IC+Sprinter setup will ever be withdrawn, so the situation between Rotterdam - Den Haag - Schiphol is not going to change for a long time.

Anyway, I don't even see the point for this major change: times have changed, alternatives exist, the new Beneluxtrein is no longer the flagship service so it actually doesn't need the speed it had in the past.

As I said above, the real matter here is not to speed it up but to make it more useful to much more people, giving it the urban stops it's skipping today.
I don't get why they forced themselves into this fake ass express service, it's really sad when railways use this kind of political tricks... "It won't be faster in any possible way, but if we skip stops people will believe it is".
They are playing with taxpayer's money, if you ask me...


*case study: how building separated HSL infra often compromises many other services.
Doubling the bridge on the Hollandsch Diep would bring much more capacity to the old line. Money for that was spent, but for a dedicated HSL bridge which will never be used and useful as the old one.
There are some services, as this Beneluxtrein, which can and will be rerouted to use the new infrastructure, bust most of the traffic will still struggle for space on the old one.
Typical demonstration that pure-HSLs are a trade-off between a strong advantage for few passengers and lower but widespread advantages for a larger public.
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Old December 13th, 2014, 05:27 AM   #2456
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I'm lost at your argument there. Travel times between Breda and Amsterdam will be ultimately reduced from 96 to 52 minutes. It is a pretty steep 45% reduction.

Travel times between Schiphol and Rotterdam were slashed from 41 to 19 minutes.

The problem with doubling the bridge as you suggested is that, until an undefined point in the future, it couldn't possibly accommodate traffic going above 140km/h due to ATB limitations. And that bridge is used by fast Thalys trains going around 280km/h. So if they had just twinned the bridge, it would have imposed a travel time penalty on Thalys of more than 4 minutes. And then if you apply the similarly misguided reasoning for other spots... you would not have seen the surge on Thalys patronage after HSL opened.

Moreover, the old railway line through Dordrecht is curvy and cannot be expanded. The curve after Dordrecht Zuid would impose further travel time penalties on Thalys and - voilā - you can no longer have a < 5h service between Paris and Amsterdam.

This is the similar discussion of people who think point improvements on highway infrastructure are "meaningless" because they "take so much land for 3 minutes savings", losing the view that, over hundreds of kms, this is what makes travel at > 100kmh (instead of < 60km/h) possible.

If you bow to the needs of regional transport and give them all priority, you end up with slow systems, unattractive for long distance travel (excluding the fanatics who will gladly take 14h-long train journeys and think they are "quaint and quite an experience"). I'm sure someone could even further push the argument that having IC trains on RAndstad is prejudicial to commuters, so that all trains should call at all stations between Dordrecht and Haarlem, and that the line should be effectively turned into a S-Bahn.
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Old December 13th, 2014, 06:50 AM   #2457
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Wait, I'm not an anti-HSL radical advocate. I often state, in my works at home, that HS railway is a great instrument, but it must be considered an instrument and not a target.
There are some typical conditions which make a new line convenient, and tight bends through towns is one of these.

The whole question is a matter of priorities. The amount of projects that a State can support, in a certain time frame, is limited.
My opinion is that some major HS links in Europe were needed and will prove to be succesful, but the '70s-'90s frenzy about speed raising made many administration lose contact with reality about priorities.
So, most HSLs are not wrong at all, they just took the place of many other projects which could be delivered much earlier and begin to give their positive effects.

Now, the Dutch situation is not the worst, since most of the old network had already been evolved to a high standard, so there are no major and immediate bottlenecks; in other countries the divide is much more serious. I'm the first to admit that the Hollandsch Diep bridge is a weak example, it's far from being a major issue.
But still I think that HSL Zuid could have been postponed a few years, solving some local nodes first, and in some parts being better integrated with the rest of the network.


Keep in mind that the benefit of a connection can't be calculated on time gain alone, but must be multiplied by the number of users affected.
If project A slashes 30 minutes from a certain connection and project B only 10 minutes, it may appear that A should have a higher priority.
But if A affects 10k users (total time gain 300k minutes) and B affects 50k users (500k minutes), then priorities change.
This, and boosting capacity by splitting loads, is why ICs in the Randstad are much more important than Sprinters

The problem of HSLs is that, for their peculiar technical features, they need to be designed as separated infrastructures, thus making it difficult to access them. Services using them are much more exclusive in terms of accessibility, so demand is limited, and this keeps the "potential affected users" figure much lower than interventions on traditional railways.

HSLs are a fascinating tool, but it's not easy to justify them.
With this I don't want to mean at all that they're all useless.
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Old December 13th, 2014, 08:05 AM   #2458
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Old December 13th, 2014, 11:50 AM   #2459
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilhem275 View Post
Wait, I'm not an anti-HSL radical advocate. I often state, in my works at home, that HS railway is a great instrument, but it must be considered an instrument and not a target.
There are some typical conditions which make a new line convenient, and tight bends through towns is one of these.

The whole question is a matter of priorities. The amount of projects that a State can support, in a certain time frame, is limited.
My opinion is that some major HS links in Europe were needed and will prove to be succesful, but the '70s-'90s frenzy about speed raising made many administration lose contact with reality about priorities.
So, most HSLs are not wrong at all, they just took the place of many other projects which could be delivered much earlier and begin to give their positive effects.

Now, the Dutch situation is not the worst, since most of the old network had already been evolved to a high standard, so there are no major and immediate bottlenecks; in other countries the divide is much more serious. I'm the first to admit that the Hollandsch Diep bridge is a weak example, it's far from being a major issue.
But still I think that HSL Zuid could have been postponed a few years, solving some local nodes first, and in some parts being better integrated with the rest of the network.


Keep in mind that the benefit of a connection can't be calculated on time gain alone, but must be multiplied by the number of users affected.
If project A slashes 30 minutes from a certain connection and project B only 10 minutes, it may appear that A should have a higher priority.
But if A affects 10k users (total time gain 300k minutes) and B affects 50k users (500k minutes), then priorities change.
This, and boosting capacity by splitting loads, is why ICs in the Randstad are much more important than Sprinters

The problem of HSLs is that, for their peculiar technical features, they need to be designed as separated infrastructures, thus making it difficult to access them. Services using them are much more exclusive in terms of accessibility, so demand is limited, and this keeps the "potential affected users" figure much lower than interventions on traditional railways.

HSLs are a fascinating tool, but it's not easy to justify them.
With this I don't want to mean at all that they're all useless.
I think the opposing argument at the time was to forget about building an HSL and to use the money on upgrading all the major links to 4 tracks at 200km/h instead. The idea behind this being that 300km/h offers few benefits over 200km/h in a country where the distances are relatively short.

In hindsight, that would probably have been the smarter choice.
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Old December 13th, 2014, 12:06 PM   #2460
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slagathor View Post
I think the opposing argument at the time was to forget about building an HSL and to use the money on upgrading all the major links to 4 tracks at 200km/h instead. The idea behind this being that 300km/h offers few benefits over 200km/h in a country where the distances are relatively short.

In hindsight, that would probably have been the smarter choice.
The money used specifically on the HSL Zuid between Hoofddorp and Antewerpen wouldn't have been enough to upgrade services to 200km/h on the old line at all! There are too many bottlenecks where you'd end up with expensive tunnels anyway, and tunnels under cities are more expensive than greenfield deep tunnels. It would be also challenging to build high-speed (200km/h) bypasses of stations like Leiden and Dordrecht.

The new line between Hoofddorp and Rotterdam also slashed distance between both stations by several km.

Dordrecht would still need a bypass.

The issue was/is not only speed, but capacity.

It would also have not provided a Breda-Antwerpen connection.

Finally, this would have required further investments to fit the rest of the Randstad network with ERTMS-2.
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