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Old May 30th, 2017, 12:04 PM   #1181
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I am trying to understand why the line between Brussels and Amsterdam is so ineffective, but I could not find sufficient information in English. Does anyone know why, provided that the line was designed for speed of 186 mph, the journey tine is about 2 hours (I know that the trains are calling at Antwerp, Rotterdam and Schiphol) and at the moment it might be faster to drive between the two cities (ot between any two cities on the line) and 5-10 times cheaper than to take a train?
There's nothing wrong with the line itself. Bear in mind:

1) Amsterdam Centraal to Schiphol is conventional track and it takes just over 15 minutes to cover a very short distance (which is why future trains might terminate at Amsterdam South instead).

2) There is no high speed track between Antwerp and Brussels, only conventional tracks.

The journey times on the actual high speed track are very decent. To get from Schiphol to Antwerp with Thalys (which reaches 300km/h) takes only 56 minutes.

But between Amsterdam and Schiphol and between Antwerp and Brussels, Thalys gets hopelessly stuck in regular traffic at speeds of 140 - 160 km/h.

Now, Thalys is a pretty exclusive service that runs all the way to Paris and it can be expensive if buy you a ticket on short notice. So the idea was to supplement Thalys with an additional Benelux high speed service called Fyra (to which da_scotty referred). The Fyra would run between Amsterdam and Brussels, with additional stops in places like Rotterdam, Antwerp, The Hague and Breda. But those trains were so poorly built, they had to be sent back to the manufacturer in Italy. The order was then canceled altogether.

They were then replaced with a last-minute temporary number of train sets that can only reach 160 km/h. Those are still running.

NS have ordered new intercity trains at Alstom which will be capable of traveling at 200 km/h. They will enter service from 2021.
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Old May 30th, 2017, 12:09 PM   #1182
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Originally Posted by bench_mark_2 View Post
I am trying to understand why the line between Brussels and Amsterdam is so ineffective, but I could not find sufficient information in English. Does anyone know why, provided that the line was designed for speed of 186 mph, the journey tine is about 2 hours (I know that the trains are calling at Antwerp, Rotterdam and Schiphol) and at the moment it might be faster to drive between the two cities (ot between any two cities on the line) and 5-10 times cheaper than to take a train?
Between Amsterdam and Schiphol and Antwerp and Brussels, the maximum speed of the trains is limited and congestion is severe at those parts of the journey.
But still, the difference in journey time between the city centers of Amsterdam and Brussels, is approximately 40 to 45 minutes (not taking road traffic into account) in favour of the train.
More interesting is the train between Amsterdam and Paris. The train now only takes 3h 21 and by car, it would take approximately than 5h 20, again without taking road traffix into account.

Whether it's worth the price or not, that's of course up to you.
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Old May 30th, 2017, 01:20 PM   #1183
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Between Amsterdam and Schiphol and Antwerp and Brussels, the maximum speed of the trains is limited and congestion is severe at those parts of the journey.
But still, the difference in journey time between the city centers of Amsterdam and Brussels, is approximately 40 to 45 minutes (not taking road traffic into account) in favour of the train.
More interesting is the train between Amsterdam and Paris. The train now only takes 3h 21 and by car, it would take approximately than 5h 20, again without taking road traffix into account.

Whether it's worth the price or not, that's of course up to you.
So there are no plans for high speed railway lines between Amsterdam and the airport and between Antwerp and Brussels?

I am comparing this line with the East Coast Main Line which was built 170 years ago and where the travel time is much shorter than the line between Brussels and Amsterdam - after the new train sets arrive in 2018 the distance of 393 miles between King's X and Edinburgh could be taken in 3h and 30 min which makes an average speed of 112 mph. In comparison to that, Thalys takes the distance of 130 miles in almost 2 hours (1:50) which makes an average speed of less than 70 mph.

Having in mind that this line connects 4 cities with population over one million people, and travels through one of the most densely populated areas of Europe and one of the most advanced in economic and general social aspect one too, maybe it's worth thinking how to achieve shorter travel times.
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Old May 30th, 2017, 01:29 PM   #1184
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So there are no plans for high speed railway lines between Amsterdam and the airport and between Antwerp and Brussels?
The distance between Schiphol and Amsterdam isn't that long and the route would require something like a tunnel, because there is a city in the way.
There was a plan for a HSL between Antwerp and Brussels, but the Belgians later decided to stick to upgrading the existing line and create a diversion via Zaventem airport.

Here is a cabride of a Thalys between Brussels and Amsterdam, which also shows the speedo. You will see that the actual time spent at high speed isn't that long.
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Old May 30th, 2017, 03:14 PM   #1185
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Yes, but mostly, the speed in the Brussels tunnel is disappointing. Of course they are limited by the infrastructure, many people stop at Brussels and it is still faster than street traffic, however, 50kph especially is pretty slow. Up to 200kph it would be worth to invest in between Antwerp and Brussels (and 160 pretty much became standard after some tweaks during the years), but for making the step towards 250 (pretty much the maximum of what would make sense on this distance if you will not scrap Antwerp which only will happen twice daily), a new tunnel should be dug underneath Brussels for all HST lines between Schaarbeek and Brussels South.

It would make sense however, as a relief for the six tracks in the tunnel is Welcome with the capital W
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Old May 30th, 2017, 04:13 PM   #1186
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Originally Posted by bench_mark_2 View Post
So there are no plans for high speed railway lines between Amsterdam and the airport and between Antwerp and Brussels?

I am comparing this line with the East Coast Main Line which was built 170 years ago and where the travel time is much shorter than the line between Brussels and Amsterdam - after the new train sets arrive in 2018 the distance of 393 miles between King's X and Edinburgh could be taken in 3h and 30 min which makes an average speed of 112 mph. In comparison to that, Thalys takes the distance of 130 miles in almost 2 hours (1:50) which makes an average speed of less than 70 mph.

Having in mind that this line connects 4 cities with population over one million people, and travels through one of the most densely populated areas of Europe and one of the most advanced in economic and general social aspect one too, maybe it's worth thinking how to achieve shorter travel times.


There is something you said well. There are two things however:
- The demand is somewhat moderated north of Brussels as being a spur of the bigger network. Amsterdam is not the biggest railway node, not even in its own country. Rotterdam is at the westernedge of the train network and north of Amsterdam is... cows in polders. Antwerp is also open on one side but you can expect that including some parts of the Netherlands there is a lot of demand from Antwerp as departure station to e.g. France. However, as you noted, these cities contain each a lot of inhabitants and their agglomerations are even more populated so despite their layout there is enough demand. Compare Kuala Lumpur-Singapore, the Singapore end is at its own, even though being independent, worth the investment for a line further to the mainland also noting Malaysia isn't as big as the hinterlands of Belgium and France (seen from the Netherlands) combined. And on a relatively small distance.


- So what holds us against finalizing the ends of the HST and a new HST East? Not our income, not our economic growth or potential, not even the price, it should be worth it and scraps a lot of flights to Germany and France. But there you got one of the points: France, the original HST consortium was partially with KLM who was taken over by Air France. It would be like shooting in their own leg. And there is massive political unwill: first we have to tweak a lot to our own network which is at the max of capacity almost anywhere while many people still deny the huge demand for quadrupling several hundreds of kilometers. Where the money goes to? Roads, asphalt, white elephants like the Sintrale As to Dokkum, the Victory Boogie-Woogie Tunnel in The Hague which will make four lanes end in the middle of the city which will serve the people to the middle of the city joining the jam and killing all traffic-calming solutions and eh... did someone ever check the fact that these CROW-norms about parking are overly car-facilitating for cities?


There you go. And our roads look like pool tables. So these excuses from especially the VVD are lame.
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Old May 30th, 2017, 05:02 PM   #1187
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Originally Posted by bench_mark_2 View Post
I am trying to understand why the line between Brussels and Amsterdam is so ineffective, but I could not find sufficient information in English. Does anyone know why, provided that the line was designed for speed of 186 mph, the journey tine is about 2 hours (I know that the trains are calling at Antwerp, Rotterdam and Schiphol) and at the moment it might be faster to drive between the two cities (ot between any two cities on the line) and 5-10 times cheaper than to take a train?
Only Schiphol (Amsterdam Airport) - Antwerpen is HSL.
After that concentional line until Bxl.
Thalys (TGV) uses the high speed line, Intercity Bxl a detour via Den Haag (in NL) and Brussels Airport (in BE).
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Old May 30th, 2017, 06:30 PM   #1188
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Yes, but mostly, the speed in the Brussels tunnel is disappointing. Of course they are limited by the infrastructure, many people stop at Brussels and it is still faster than street traffic, however, 50kph especially is pretty slow. Up to 200kph it would be worth to invest in between Antwerp and Brussels (and 160 pretty much became standard after some tweaks during the years), but for making the step towards 250 (pretty much the maximum of what would make sense on this distance if you will not scrap Antwerp which only will happen twice daily), a new tunnel should be dug underneath Brussels for all HST lines between Schaarbeek and Brussels South.

It would make sense however, as a relief for the six tracks in the tunnel is Welcome with the capital W
1200 trains per day in that tunnel... Increasing the speed would have too big an impact on the track capacity.

A parallel tunnel has been studied but because of géographic conditions it would have to be very deep and about 10 km long. Not affordable in the current economic conditions.
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Old May 30th, 2017, 10:54 PM   #1189
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I am trying to understand why the line between Brussels and Amsterdam is so ineffective, but I could not find sufficient information in English. Does anyone know why, provided that the line was designed for speed of 186 mph, the journey tine is about 2 hours
The line was not designed for a speed of 186 mph, it was designed for 300 kph...

And yes, it was not a good decision to build it. The money spend could have been used to upgrade the speed on quite a few lines, leading to shorter travel times for more people, and a sub 2h travel times on Brussel - Amsterdam should have been possible too.

Quote:
(I know that the trains are calling at Antwerp, Rotterdam and Schiphol) and at the moment it might be faster to drive between the two cities (ot between any two cities on the line) and 5-10 times cheaper than to take a train?
I doubt driving would be faster. By the time Thalys reaches Antwerpen you are probably still trying to get out of Brussel...
It definitely won't be 5 times cheaper. The distance is 220km, which at 0.5 euro/km 110 euro. That's the same cost as a full flex 1st class Thalys ticket...

The main mistake the railways are making is that they are trying to compete with airlines. They forget that their main competitor is the car. They should concentrate at making train travel convenient and comfortable, and comparable in travel time for as many origin-destination pairs as possible.
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Old May 30th, 2017, 10:59 PM   #1190
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NS have ordered new intercity trains at Alstom which will be capable of traveling at 200 km/h. They will enter service from 2021.
They should order a few Giruno's in stead. I think that train would be ideal for a Amsteram - Brussel IC service.
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Old May 30th, 2017, 11:07 PM   #1191
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Yes but the Alstom things will be largely for domestic traffic with just a few 3kV capable for the service to Brussels. A bit like what they did with the hondekoppen 50 years ago.
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Old May 30th, 2017, 11:35 PM   #1192
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Why is actually everyone ignoring the HSL between Mechelen and Scharbeek? This line is designed for speeds of up to 220 km/h and is the least densely frequented section between Antwerpen and Brussel.
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Old May 30th, 2017, 11:38 PM   #1193
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For thé moment this line is only 160 km/h and with the détour through the airport is much longer than the old line 25.
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Old May 31st, 2017, 12:01 AM   #1194
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For thé moment this line is only 160 km/h and with the détour through the airport is much longer than the old line 25.
But trains running over that line don't have to do the detour... NMBS could run all Antwerpen - Brussel IC services over that line, as well as Thalys...
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Old May 31st, 2017, 12:03 AM   #1195
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This will probably happen once the Mechelen by-pass is operational.
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Old May 31st, 2017, 12:28 AM   #1196
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The line was not designed for a speed of 186 mph, it was designed for 300 kph...

And yes, it was not a good decision to build it. The money spend could have been used to upgrade the speed on quite a few lines, leading to shorter travel times for more people, and a sub 2h travel times on Brussel - Amsterdam should have been possible too.



I doubt driving would be faster. By the time Thalys reaches Antwerpen you are probably still trying to get out of Brussel...
It definitely won't be 5 times cheaper. The distance is 220km, which at 0.5 euro/km 110 euro. That's the same cost as a full flex 1st class Thalys ticket...

The main mistake the railways are making is that they are trying to compete with airlines. They forget that their main competitor is the car. They should concentrate at making train travel convenient and comfortable, and comparable in travel time for as many origin-destination pairs as possible.
I have watched the video posted above and it seems to me that a new railway line between the South Station in Brussels ending north of Antwerp Central Station would resolve the speed problems in Belgium. Such a line would apparently require a new twin bore tunnel under Brussels with no intermediate stations (which will keep the construction costs low) and a new tunnel under Antwerp with a new station under Antwerp Central. This station might be constructed in compliance with the British requirements so that the Eurostar might be calling at it.

Then a second tunnel from the end of the high speed line in the Netherlands might be added, starting just before Schiphol and going to Amsterdam Central where a new Eurostar terminal adjacent to the present station (maybe to its North side) might be constructed.
This would allow for travel times of one hour to Brussels and less than 3 hours to London. This would also allow that all big Dutch and Belgium cities are connected directly with a modern high speed line to London and Paris.



With regard to the comparison with a car trip – the cost of the fuel between Amsterdam and Brussels is about 10 pounds and 3-4 people can travel much more comfortably, provided that you have a nice car (for example like the car below), than the first class offered by Thalys. This makes the cost per person 100 times lower.

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Old May 31st, 2017, 12:55 AM   #1197
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I have watched the video posted above and it seems to me that a new railway line between the South Station in Brussels ending north of Antwerp Central Station would resolve the speed problems in Belgium. Such a line would apparently require a new twin bore tunnel under Brussels with no intermediate stations (which will keep the construction costs low) and a new tunnel under Antwerp with a new station under Antwerp Central.
This station might be constructed in compliance with the British requirements so that the Eurostar might be calling at it.
Feel free to offer to pay for it...

BTw, there is already a tunnel under Antwerpen...

Quote:
With regard to the comparison with a car trip – the cost of the fuel between Amsterdam and Brussels is about 10 pounds and 3-4 people can travel much more comfortably, provided that you have a nice car (for example like the car below), than the first class offered by Thalys. This makes the cost per person 100 times lower.
No car is as comfortable as first class in Thalys. So far I know not a single make of passenger car offers toilets, or at seat meals, or standing head room...
And at least one person has to drive it. The biggest drawback of cars.
And a car that doesn't require maintenance and does not depreciate does not exist either, which is why just comparing fuel costs with a train ticket is comparing apples with something that isn't even a fruit...

For me the only comfortable seat in a car is the front passenger seat, so a correct comparison of prices would start with fuel+maintenance+depreciation+driver pay, and that all to transport one person. Now compare with a first class Thalys ticket...
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Old May 31st, 2017, 12:03 PM   #1198
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Then a second tunnel from the end of the high speed line in the Netherlands might be added, starting just before Schiphol and going to Amsterdam Central where a new Eurostar terminal adjacent to the present station (maybe to its North side) might be constructed.
There's already a tunnel being constructed underneath Amsterdam: the North-South subway line.

This will make it possibly for international trains like Thalys and Eurostar to terminate at Amsterdam South which will soon be expanded after the motorway running alongside it is put underground.

From Schiphol to Amsterdam South is only 7 minutes and the station sits right in the middle of Amsterdam's financial district. And as of 2018, it will have a direct subway connection to the historic city center.
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Old May 31st, 2017, 02:45 PM   #1199
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The line was not designed for a speed of 186 mph, it was designed for 300 kph...

And yes, it was not a good decision to build it. The money spend could have been used to upgrade the speed on quite a few lines, leading to shorter travel times for more people, and a sub 2h travel times on Brussel - Amsterdam should have been possible too.


I do not agree about the lack of necessity. Between Schiphol and Breda, the old lines make more than a few detours in order to get from one city to another: Dordrecht and The Hague. Even if the upgraded line was 4-tracked all over the place still then the voltage and safety system had to be upgraded which would have cost a lot at that time and would cause huge incompatibilities with the current system. And the railways would still be cramped at some points, near The Hague (Hollands Spoor etc) there would have been a shortage of space. Also, it would not have cut travel times between Rotterdam and Amsterdam and Rotterdam and Breda at all because of the detours. It is the only reasonable alternative for many people from the North of Holland to work in Rotterdam and the other way around, it also enables many people from Brabant to work in The Hague or Rotterdam reachable within an hour. The old train was slower than the car, the HST is much faster even more psychologically.


And because now there is this HSR with a second-hand train, cargo can be detoured from the Betuweroute and so we still have 4 trains an hour Rotterdam-Breda. Without it there were only two. And these four are FULL during peak hours. And because these lines, opposed to the Thalys are open trains, it saves 15-40 minutes of train travel for more than 50,000 people daily*, up to 100,000 including the Eindhoven-The Hague service, and yes, including me. At speeds that would never have been reached via either Dordrecht or The Hague.


The NS also realised that this line should continue to operate at all costs, because it not only provides the necessary relief for the existing network but changes to the speed that are able to be made on other lines would not be sufficient to the old lines here at all. And last but not least, the HST shortens the travel time of Amsterdam-Brussels by almost an hour. Those 30 minutes extra being saved seem nothing to the average neoliberal nimby, but the most important change that the Thalys on this line brings is not visible for the mad farmer, but is existential: economic growth, jobs, less traffic jams, ease of movement for foreigners who otherwise would go flying, we saved a damn lot of kerosene and space for flights to Bengaluru** from Schiphol.


*if it weren't for the unstable service
** not only Bengaluru, the number of potential flights to Paris and even Brussels is high, also because of the takeover of KLM by Air France. If this saves 32 air movements a day, this saves 25,000 ones a year. These take slots for potentially 5 million passengers with 200 passengers per flight demanding on the configuration. That is about the same as the size of EasyJet at Schiphol or Eindhoven Airport as a whole.
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Prohibit the construction of new single-family dwellings without stacking apartments in Amsterdam (A10), Rotterdam (motorway ring), The Hague, Utrecht (outer ring), Eindhoven (ring), Tilburg (ringbanen) and Groningen (provincial ring)!

And prohibit the use of agricultural land for new dwellings!

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Old May 31st, 2017, 02:53 PM   #1200
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There's already a tunnel being constructed underneath Amsterdam: the North-South subway line.

This will make it possibly for international trains like Thalys and Eurostar to terminate at Amsterdam South which will soon be expanded after the motorway running alongside it is put underground.

From Schiphol to Amsterdam South is only 7 minutes and the station sits right in the middle of Amsterdam's financial district. And as of 2018, it will have a direct subway connection to the historic city center.
This line has been under planning/construction for decades and it seems that it will eventually open in 2018. If the Eurostar and Thalys terminate at Amsterdam South, this would significantly deteriorates the level of services. Amsterdam Central has a great location, in the historic centre of the town, within easy access to the Central Square. Most passengers on the Eurostar and Thalys would like to go there, not in the Business District which is not even in Amsterdam (I believe it is no A10 which is the orbital motorway of the town, is it not?).

With regard to the necessity of additional tunnels, I believe that the future of the passenger transport in Western and Central Europe is the high speed rail. The new line in England is designed for speed of 250 miles per hour (400 kilometres per hour) which will allow amuch shorter travel times in the future, providing rail services from town centre to town centre at relatively low costs and environmentally friendly. This is why it is important that the lines that are currently being built are designed for higher speeds, preferably 250 mph.

Last edited by bench_mark_2; May 31st, 2017 at 02:58 PM.
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