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Victim of its own success…

Commuter train to Amsterdam, in Haarlem station (Photo: kris)

An article in Dutch News about crowded trains around Amsterdam.

So Amsterdam, Utrecht, Haarlem and even Hoofdorp are technically different municipalities. In reality, this is not the case: People are living in de Randstand. And especially for Amsterdam, people are commuting between the city of Amsterdam and the cities around it. Trains are running at a very high frequency, basically so often that people have stopped caring about the schedule and just show up at the platform, using the trains like one would use a tram or subway or anything else that runs more frequently that every 10 minutes.

Still, during de spits, trains are full enough that people not only have to stand, but some have left to be behind at the platform. Of course, a train system is flexible in capacity up to a limit, which is basically the limit of the rail itself. You can add cars to the train up to the length of the platform, you can more trains more often, up to the limit of traffic safety.

Once you hit those limits, it’s going to be complicated and expensive to add more capacity, because you’d have to build tracks, platforms or maybe even stations. Also, capacity added this way has a very high latency: it will be many years before it comes online.

So public policy in the Netherlands, which is trying to move people away from car traffic to non-car individual traffic, or even from that to any form of public transport, is very successful. But capacity apparently has not been scaled in time to match demand, hence the action by ConsumentenClaim.

NS on the other hand is handing out pamphlets on the train, showing train schedules and utilization, basically asking people to arrive 15 minutes earlier or later to spread the peak usage out. They have a point – leaving home 15 minutes earlier makes me arrive at work 30-45 minutes earlier.

The evening is worse: taking Tram 16 in Amsterdam toward the central station during the evening rush hour is basically useless. Walking to the central station is faster, because you will have to let multiple trams let pass before you can find one that is able to take you on.

That will only change when the Noord-Zuid-Lijn goes live, which will add multiple options for me to go from Vijzelgracht to Vijfhuizen: I will be at Centraal faster and can go via Haarlem to home, but I may also go to Station Zuid and use the route through Hoofddorp.

Published inAls Deutscher in den NiederlandenNederlandsPost Car Society


  1. Harald Wagener

    It’s a good problem to have!

    • Tobias Becker

      Indeed. Make a good offering and people will consider, so better be prepared for success. Similar thing in smaller scale happened in Hamburg when extending the S3 to Stade.

    • Markus

      No it’s not as this means something like a 1h commute.

  2. Devdas Bhagat

    But that frequency (< 10 minutes) is pretty much restricted to Sloterdijk, Centraal and Amstel for trains. Everything else is at an interval of 15 minutes or greater.

    • kris kris

      I find trains running Haarlem/Amsterdam running at 10min and less in de spits as well. So is Hoofddorp/Amsterdam.

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