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The Netherlands - Articles and news items

ProRail… on the right track!

Issue 3 2016 / 25 May 2016 /

ProRail is responsible for the Dutch rail network – the busiest in Europe. The organisation enables 1.1 million train journeys every day and 51 billion tonne-kilometres every year. Currently working on the biggest track renewal project in Dutch history, ProRail experienced an eventful 2015, as President and Chairman Pier Eringa reports…

Dutch operator Syntus awarded Zwolle rail contract

Rail industry news / 22 June 2015 /

Syntus, the Dutch public transport operator, has been awarded the Zwolle-Enschede and Zwolle-Kampen rail franchise by the province of Overijssel.

Limburg awards Arriva £1.4 billion rail and bus contract

Rail industry news / 11 June 2015 /

The Dutch province of Limburg has awarded Arriva Netherlands a 15-year rail and bus contract worth £1.4 billion.

Dutch State Railways signs contract for 58 Stadler FLIRT trains

Rail industry news / 23 April 2015 /

Dutch State Railways (NS) has placed an order with Stadler Rail to provide 58 FLIRT trains for delivery at the end of 2016.

OV SAAL project: Working on improving accessibility in the Netherlands

Issue 1 2015 / 13 February 2015 /

The OV SAAL project in the Netherlands aims to expand the railway system around Schiphol, Amsterdam, Almere and Lelystad, but not without serious challenges with respect to technique and accessibility. Christiaan Caan and Koen Ingels both Managers from construction alliances on behalf of ProRail, and OV SAAL’s Senior Communications Consultant, Kitty l’Abee, provide further information about this huge project…

Foreword by Wilma Mansveld: Improving before expanding

Issue 1 2015 / 13 February 2015 /

Every day, more than one million people in the Netherlands – out of a population of almost 17 million – rely on trains and railroads to get to work and back home again. This is no small feat considering the complexity of the country’s railway system and the length of its tracks; 7,000km. To give you some idea, that’s from Holland to Siberia, deep into the heart of Russia. For every kilometre the system counts one switch or crossing. Each day 9,000 trains ride from one place to the next, carrying those one million passengers and 115,000 tonnes of cargo. And every day, the railway system functions well, on average. Exclusively for European Railway Review, Wilma Mansveld, State Secretary of Infrastructure and the Environment for the Netherlands, explains that to keep the country’s railways and train operation fit for the future, averages are not enough…

Creating a ‘Green Wave’ on the Dutch railways

Issue 1 2014 / 12 February 2014 /

Forty different users and 3.3 million train movements. Every year, creating a master plan for capacity allocation on the busiest rail network in Europe poses a formidable mathematical challenge for the Dutch rail infrastructure management company ProRail. How does ProRail address this operational challenge in a way that is compatible with its ambitions for the future: record levels of safety, capacity growth, a well-maintained rail network and robust connections with the rest of Europe? For European Railway Review, Hugo Thomassen, ProRail’s Director of Transport and Timetables, explains the Dutch approach to these matters.

Moving people and cargo from A to B

Issue 1 2013 / 20 February 2013 /

As the principal government official for railways, it is my responsibility to offer the millions of people who use the Dutch public transport system the best service possible. Fortunately I am not alone when it comes to doing the hard work. Together with the various Dutch rail companies and ProRail (our infrastructure provider) we’re working day and night to move people and cargo from A to B.

This is no small feat considering the com – plexity of our railway system and the length of our tracks; 7,000km. To give you some idea, that’s from Holland to Siberia, deep into the heart of Russia. For every kilometre the system counts one switch or crossing. Each day, 6,000 trains travel from one place to the next, carrying more than one million passengers and many tonnes of cargo.

Our rail system functions well. Still, such a complex and heavily burdened network is prone to disturbances. Sub-zero temperatures, heavy snowfall and severe storms that disrupt the system in one place, can quickly cause havoc in a number of other places. It’s one of the drawbacks of such an intricate network; fall-out spreads rapidly.

We all expect a well-tuned railway on which reliable trains transport passengers comfortably and safely to their desired destinations on time. So, how do we do this?

First of all, our railway network should be better guarded to work in extreme weather conditions. Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) – the biggest Dutch railway company – adjusts train timetables when extreme weather is expected. Fewer trains mean fewer fall-outs when things do go wrong. As a result, more trains travel on time. Because commuters can check the adjusted timetables on their computer or mobile phone, this leads to less hassle and frustration.

Secondly, I want our national railway network to fit tightly within the other public transport networks such as trams, buses and the underground. People care about getting to their destination in a comfortable and timely fashion. They do not care about the mode of transport. This is why I want to focus on creating a national public transport network. Of course, provisions for cars (Park + Ride) and bicycles need to be optimal too. Especially since bikes are still our main mode of transport within cities.

Adjusted rail profile makes Dutch rail virtually free from Head Checks

Issue 1 2012 / 6 February 2012 /

Since 2006, infra-manager ProRail has been keeping the Dutch rail free from Head Checks by grinding the rails in an Anti Head Check profile. Head Checks (HC) are rail defects that are created by wheel-rail contact. These can be serious safety threats. I obtained my doctorate in 2010 with the dissertation titled ‘Design of an Anti Head Check profile based on stress relief 1,2. I designed a rail profile that saves ProRail €50 million of maintenance costs for the rails per year. This rail profile made the volume of HC decrease by over 70% since late-2008. Head Checks are becoming extinct in the Netherlands.

In the Netherlands, approximately 70% of the total annual maintenance budget is spent on rails, including foundation, sleepers, ballast, constructions and switches3. Rails may seem to be simple elements, but they deserve ample attention. The wheel-rail contact is the force that brings the degeneration of both separate systems together. All failing mechanisms can eventually be brought down to this dynamic contact system. This also played a role in the serious and fatal UK rail accident in 2000 at Hatfield, where rails affected by HC broke down.

Shocked by this, infra-manager ProRail took a look at the situation in the Netherlands. Inspections proved that here HC was a serious problem as well: 10% of the curves (rails) appeared to have been affected. The safety, reliability and availability of the rails was in danger. The problem increased and expo – nentially grew each year. In the peak year 2004, ProRail spent €50 million on fighting HC.

14 trains per hour on a 2-track rail section? The Dutch prove that it ISpossible!

Issue 1 2011 / 15 February 2011 /

Imagine: six intercity trains, six regional trains and two freight trains per hour in the morning and evening peak hours. In September 2010, the Dutch rail industry carried out a unique test named ‘Each ten minutes a train (ETMET)’ on a mainly two-track route. In a special interview for European Railway Review, Erik Sigger (NS) and Peter van Waveren (ProRail), Project Management of ETMET, explain that although this is the dream of every train passenger, is it really possible?

The answer seems to be yes, provisionally, because with a structural introduction of this metro-like system, there are a lot more factors than just arranging extra trains and staff, as was discovered by Dutch Railways (NS), infrastructure manager ProRail and the united freight railway undertakings Royal Dutch Transport Federation (KNV).

Triple A approach tested in practice gives valuable results

Issue 1 2010, Past issues / 28 January 2010 /

In Issue 1 2009 of European Railway Review, an article was published about how ProRail expects to realise a growth of 50% by applying a new approach. This approach is known as the Triple A. In this article, I will discuss the progress since January 2009, but I will first give a brief outline of the scope of Triple A.

A decade of growth and future ambitions

Issue 1 2009, Past issues / 23 January 2009 /

As Arriva Nederland moves into its 11th year, Managing Director Anne Hettinga reflects on a decade of expansion and delivery for its customers.