This was another venture based on a railtour - in this case the Branch Line Society's 'Double Dutch Docker', taking a serious look at freight lines around Rotterdam. Health warning - if you don't want to read about seriously heavy duty track bashing, click here to go on to lighter matters... If you're still with me I must apologise for the lack of photos of the Rotterdam metro (you might be grateful, of course). They've disappeared - but maybe I'll find them one day. It wouldn't surprise me.
More or less punctual departure on a BA AR40 from Gatwick after taking the opportunity to do the transit link between North and South terminals This is a tracked, rubber tyred three car vehicle seemingly collecting/returning current via a pair of bars in the centre of the track. An uneventful flight to Rotterdam, enlivened by a view of Ramsgate Harbour. Early arrival at Rotterdam, into town by 1040 even after waiting about ten minutes for the bus. Located the essentials of life around Centraal station - Visa cash machine, off licence (Westmalle Tripel Fl2.95, around GBP1.20 [how things have changed]), VVV office.
Purchased a 1 day RET pass, valid for all bus/tram/metro, for Fl12. Decided to start with the Metro out to Spijkenisse, knowing it to be mostly above ground, stopping off at Maashaven on the way back to do the isolated no 2 tram route. 6489 and 6406 were double heading a container train through Waalhaven (?) yard.
Decamping at Maashaven, caught the no 2 tram to Beverwaard. A branch goes off where the no 2 trams turn sharp right between Bredenoord and Akkenoord [I can't read my notes here, sorry if the spelling is wrong]. The curve from the Beverwaard direction on to the branch is certainly used. Does the branch go to the depot? 2 phots of tram (728) at Beverwaard. 3 RET staff were riding shotgun, for reasons unknown. Back to Rotterdam CS on the Metro from Maashaven, then off to the hotel to check in, enlivened by getting the wrong bus and having to walk nearly as far as if I'd walked from CS.
After wash and brush up, back to CS on the bus and down to Beurs on the Metro, then out to Ommoord. This line is more subterranean than the Spijkenisse route and doesn't emerge until Kralingse Zoom. Electrification on both routes is third rail bottom contact. There is a large depot on the left between Kralingse Zoom and Capelsebrug with a yellow RET diesel shunter. One road has overhead electrification, presumably to test pantographs etc. The branch to Capelle a/d IJssel departs to the right by a flyover after Capelsebrug, with catenary starting at the junction for Ommoord and Zevenkamp lines. Capel a/d IJssel is third rail. The platforms at Prinsenlaan are staggered either side of a level crossing. At Alexander there is an interchange with the NS line to Gouda. The lines to Ommoord and Zevenkamp diverge after Graskruid. Photo at Binnenhof, terminus of Ommoord line.
Back as far as Graskruid in order to do the line to De Tochtem (Zevenkamp). Junction at Graskruid is a conventional level one. Phot at Graskruid of unit 5245 going to Zevenkamp. Phot at Zevenkamp of 5271 departing. Back from Zevenkamp to Capelsebrug to do the shortest branch, that to De Tarp (Capelle aan der IJssel). Platforms at Schankel (Schenkel?) are also staggered either side of a crossing. At Capelsebrug the connection into the depot from the country end is via a diveunder which descends between the two platforms (island inbound, single outbound). The maps in the trains are 'handed'so that Ommoord is always at the top and therefore half of them show the Ommoord and Capelle a/d IJssel lines the wrong side of that to Zevenkamp. There is a flyover connection into the depot from the 'town' end.
Through to Marconiplein from Capelle aan der IJssel. This is underground all the way from Capelsebrug. Arrived at Marconiplein just in time (1745 - they finish at 1800) to get a no 4 tram to Schiedam which is the only service to do the loop at Schiedam Stadserf. Returned on the same tram in order to complete the loop and do the south side of the triangle at Marconiplein, then changed to no 9 for the short stretch from Nieuwe Binnenweg to Weena. Evening jollifications included no 3 tram from Stadhuis to Blaak and Blaak to Centraal Station.
Away from Rotterdam CS 15 minutes late (0905) on phase 1 of the Double Dutch Docker. Normal passenger route was followed to Zuidelijke Splitsing, just before Haarlem, where we took the avoiding line to Noordelijke Splitsing. The avoiding line crosses the Zandvoort branch on the level. At Santpoort we took the new alignment to Beverwijk, passing under the Noordzee Kanaal in Velser tunnel.
At Beverwijk we left the DE2 unit to join the Hoogovens Stoomclub train hauled by 0-8-0T no 57 'Bonne' built at Esslingen in 1943. This took us on a tour of the Hoogovens steel works, pausing to inspect their 1936 built EMU and the driverless radio controlled Orenstein & Koppel diesel shunters. Back at Beverwijk we changed back to the DE2 and continued to Uitgeest where we reversed and ran back towards Amsterdam, taking the goods line past the ultramodern Zaandam station.
We took the diveunder line towards the docks, reversing just after passing under the main line, then turned left and took the closed freight branch as far as the end of Amerikahaven. Returning to the main line via the other side of the triangle we turned left again to traverse the branch to Australiehaven, now cut short, En route back we diverged to the right to do the branch to Rietlanden at Amerikahaven. We continued on the freight line, diverging left just before Sloterdijk station, down to Westhaven yard just beyond Bosporushaven. Here we reversed, crossed over the former main line alignment, reversed again and took the parallel branch down to the Ij near the Hembrug ferry.
Amerikahaven, Amsterdam. One of the places the Double Dutch Docker couldn't make it to the buffers! 27-5-95
Returning to a point opposite Westhaven yard we reversed again and took the line round the end of Vlothaven to Coenhaven then reversed again to take the line to Fina at the bottom of the 'U' of Petroleumhaven [this comment refers to the tour map]. Returning to Westhaven yard we made a visit to the end of the old main line alignment, then back to Westhaven yard where we reversed again and turned south to go past the end of Bosporushaven and Suezhaven. We were unable to cross the road to get to Beringhaven so reversed and returned via Westhaven yard to Amsterdam CS, thence via Haarlem and Leiden to Den Haag CS (reverse) out to Binekenhorst carriage sidings (reverse) then back round the curve to Den Haag HS.
On to Rotterdam and round the avoiding line to Rotterdam Westerlijke Jn. The curve from Schiebroek Jn to Kleiweg Jn was used to get to Rotterdam Kleiweg - interestingly this crosses the Kleiweg Jn - Hillegersberg Jn curve on the level. We then took the short trip to Rotterdam Hofplein and back. Reversing again at Kleiweg we took the east curve to Hillegersberg and reversed at the far end of Rotterdam Noord yard before returning to Rotterdam CS.
Punctual departure at 0730 from Rotterdam CS for the branch to Parkhaven, serving the docks on the north side of the Maas. We reversed at the south end of Rechter Maasoever yard to do the line to Merwehaven. The line adjacent to the westernmost dock was blocked by wagons so we only got to the gate adjacent to the corner of the dock. Returning through Rechter Maasoever yard we continued to the end of the branch just before Parkhaven. Here we reversed to get down the branch to St Jobshaven as far as the dock gate. Following a train/tram photostop at Pelgrimsstraat we went a short distance down the Keilestraat branch between Keilehaven and Lekhaven. Returning to RMO Jn we paused for a photo stop at the end of the complex rail/road/tram layout at Marconiplein.
We paused in the through road at Rotterdam CS to pick up a guard then continued through Kijfhoek yard to Dordrecht and the De Staart branch where we were stopped short of the end due to broken sleepers. Back at Dordrecht we turned left on to the Zeehaven branch which we followed to its end on the quayside. A further branch diverges left just before the quay (connection used to face the other way) but there was insufficient time to do this.
We returned to Dordrecht, back through Kijfhoek yard and turned left at Barendrecht Aansluiting on to the Europoort branch which we took almost to the end at Maasvlakte. Unfortunately we were unable to gain access to the ore terminal. There now followed some really definitve trackbashing : back to Waalhaven yard then on to the branch to the east of Waalhaven, turning left into Sluisjesdijk and terminating adjacent to Barendrechtshaven. We reversed her and again at the top of Sluisjesdijk to take the parallel branch down Waalhaven-N-Z to the bufferstops. We then returned to Waalhaven Yard to take the left hand branch of the two on the west side of Waalhaven, down to Eenhavenweg.We then returned part way up the branch before taking the line down to Bunscholenweg. Finally we took the easternmost of the two branches on the west side of Waalhaven, to Rondolaan.
From here the tour returned to Rotterdam CS via reversal in Kijfhoek yard, because the east curve to Lombardijen Aansluiting was unavailable. [During our manoeuvres in the Waalhaven area we encountered the situation pictured left - no, Harry Enfield was not involved - were thwarted by a steel gate, and in proper BLS fashion reached the ends of as many branches as we could.]
After CT's two superb tours JR and I rejoined the real (well, gricers') world to go 'oop north'. We left Rotterdam on 0737 to Leeuwarden - 9 cars with 6 for Groningen and 3 for Leeuwarden. Several new flyovers were noted under construction, the first being at the junction with the line from Den Haag between Mordrecht and Gouda. At Utrecht a further 6 cars from Den Haag were attached - 15 in all, which nowadays is a strange sight for a Brit. At Zwolle the train split again, with 6 cars for Groningen leaving first, 6 for Leeuwarden second and 3 left behind.
Running was lethargic all the way with time being lost all the way to Zwolle. Fortunately the 9 minute connection for the Stavoren branch was held, and we joined 2 car DMU 3202 for the trip to Stavoren. This branch appears to be well used, with dozens of bikes at the intermediate stations. There is a picturesque small harbour at Stavoren with a number of restored sailing vessels. It's odd (again, for a foreigner) to look up at yachts sailing on Ijsselmeer near Molkwerum.
A beer break was taken at Sneek (pronounced Snake) on the way back; Duvel was on offer and greatly enjoyed at the Bonnema just opposite the station. The Leeuwarden - Sneek shuttle service was being operated by two single diesel units with built in booking offices, nos 3103 and 3110.
1250 Leeuwarden - Harlingen Haven consisted of 2 single car units leading a 2 car unit. The single cars arrived loaded with passengers - origin (of the train) unknown. The 2 car set was detached at Harlingen, presumably so that it could stay in the same diagram. Harlingen Haven is a small and very neat port used by the Friesian Islands ferry. There are buffers at the end of the single platform station and goods sidings bside the station.
Returning to Leeuwarden we joined another 2x1 DMU for Groningen, where we caught a bus into town, located accommodation at the Hotel Weeva, and cured some temporary faintness at the Groot Greet (Great Cannon it would appear) where Gulden Draak and draught Wieckse Witte were available, amongst many others.
Repairing to the station we set off on 1735 to Delfzijl, unit 3204. En route to Delfzijl we passed 6428 with a freight; on our return we overtook it at Bedum. The train was running slightly late so we decamped at Groningen Noord to be sure of catching 1901 Groningen - Roodeschool. While waiting for this 6428 appeared yet again but had to wait for the passenger train before gaining access to the single line to Groningen. At Roodeschool the Eemshaven branch appeared to have been relaid; also the depot across the level crossing from the station is still in situ. What is the traffic? Final return to Groningen was on 1947 ex Roodeschool in unit 3222.
First objective was the cross border line to Leer. We joined unit 3230 on 0721 Groningen - Nieuweschans to give us time to get tickets for the part of the journey outside Holland. This attempt failed as the booking office at Nieuweschans is in the local hotel and only sells Dutch tickets, so we dealt with the train conductor instead. The 0844 to Leer turned out to be a DB 4 car diesel unit with a Dutch crew; strangely we had passed a DB unit working towards Groningen earlier (ours being the first booked service of the day). There was significant freight traffic at Wener (several wagons in the DB yard plus a well used private siding) but little obvious reason for the line between Weener and Nieuweschans. If the line is closed it would seem likely to be cut back to Winschoten where there is significant passenger traffic.
Returning from Leer we had our passports checked by Dutch immigration - obviously intra-EC controls haven't quite been abandoned. A container train passed us near Martenshoek, presumably heading for Germany. A punctual return to Groningen allowed us 9 minutes before the 1037 to Amsterdam, with a Schiphol portion detached at Amersfoort. We caught this as far as Zwolle where we decamped to cover the short branch to Kampen; it's rumoured that this may one day be linked up to Lelystad on the other side of Drontermeer. Presumably this would give better access between Amsterdam and the 'far' north.
Returning to Zwolle we headed south east on the diesel service to Almelo, changing there to an electric unit bound for Enschede. The original plan to go to Enschede was abandoned to give us an extra hour later in the day so we dived into the bar at Hengelo station to sample Amstel's Meibock (sweet, but not bad) before catching the diesel via Lochem to Zutphen.
The next stop was Arnhem where we had hoped to use the services of the VVV to book us a hotel in Dordrecht or Roosendaal. This proved unsuccessful so we retired to t'Moortgat to ponder our future over a couple of draught De Konincks then booked into a hotel opposite the station and caught the 1620 to Roosendaal.
According to one guide Arnhem had only 150 habitable houses after the battles of WWII; it shows in the many 1950s and 60s buildings but you can't help admiring the effort that has gone into rebuilding the city. [This is the first of many such observations - most obviously in Germany but also in Holland and in Flanders where the damage from WWI was hardly repaired before it all started again. I find it fascinating and appalling at the same time and make no apology for the occasional emphasis - and this from a (just) post war baby!]
At Roosendaal one loco hauled Belgian set with 1192 was to be seen, and a triple headed freight went through hauled by 6477, 6493 and 6446. We took the 1814 to Vlissingen, noting the end of the preseved line at Goes. This appears to end in a triangle with a headshunt (not connected to the main line) at the eastern point, on the former branch, and the loco depot at the western point. Is this correct or is there just a back shunt into the depot and no triangle? At Vlissingen there was just sufficient time to photograph the unit and the outside of the station before returning to Arnhem with a refreshment pause at Tilburg.
Early breakfast was provided at 0645 so that we could catch the 0718 to Tiel. Electrification from Geldermalsen towards Arnhem has only reached Tiel so we changed from diesel to electric unit for the 10 minute run to Geldermalsen where we changed again for a well filled commuter train to Dordrecht. The layout at Dordrecht is currently being remodelled in a big way with single line working of the Geldermalsen line, two through platforms closed off and extensive trackwork going on at the eastern end of the station. At Dordrecht JR disappeared to Schiphol.
I caught 0927 to Eindhoven in order to cover the Dordrecht-Breda and Tilburg-Eindhoven sections. This was the first loco hauled (by 1638) train of the trip. The flyover at the junction of the Roosendaal and Breda lines just south of the Moerdijk bridge will need to be done westbound! Between Tilburg West and Tilburg a scrap line contains locos seemingly withdrawn up to 20 years ago. In Tilburg works yard are a number of NS2200 class locos renumbered in a 7600 series for SNCB/NMBS, plus many other locos waiting repair. A trip through Tilburg from east to west and a few minutes on the station is highly recommended, as is the Cafe Kandinsky in Telegraafstraat, 5 minutes from the station.
A well used freight branch (to Uden?) diverges to the left just south of Boxtel station. Utrecht CS is clean, modern and airy - typical of the sort of Dutch station which makes Derby or Plymouth (for example) look like something dreamed up by Hieronymus Bosch. Changing direction at Eindhoven (there seems to be some firm called Philips here) I took the 1037 to Utrecht CS behind 1616, to cover the Boxtel to Vaught and s'Hertogenbosch - Utrecht lines. The sidings south of s'Hertogenbosch [very wisely known to Dutch people as Den Bosch] contained SNCF and OBB sleeping cars, presumably from motorail services. At Utrecht 1604 arrived with DB stock on 1106 Amsterdam - Köln.
The next objective was the line from Alphen aan den Rijn to Gouda so I joined electric unit 810 on the 1410 to Leiden as far as Alphen. Woerden station was suffering major construction work with a new pedestrian tunnel being built and repairs to the main station building. At Alphen aan den Rijn the 1206 to Leiden obligingly connected with the 1207 to Gouda thus saving half an hour but depriving me of a lunch stop. A 4 minute connection at Gouda into the 1230 to Den Haag CS [another sensible abbreviation, of s'Gravenhage] did the same - though this was an amazing 6 minutes late away from Gouda.
Some major replanning then took place resulting in the 1305 Den Haag CS being taken to do the branch to Rotterdam Hofplein, returning as far as Leidschendam, the junction for the Zoetermeer loop. The Zoetermeer loop goes off by means of a flying junction and heads into Zoetermeer to Centrum West where it splits. My train took the right hand loop to Dorp and on to Driemanspolder which is 200 metres or so from Zoetermeer station on the Den Haag-Gouda line by a footbridge. The loop crosses over the Den Haag-Centrum West route at the eastern end of Voorweg station and curves round through Stadhuis station back to Centrum West.
Returning to the Euston-like atmosphere of Den Haag CS, I caught the 1510 to Rotterdam CS in order to do the Den Haag CS-Den Haag HS curve and complete the rail part of the trip. On returning to Rotterdam there was sufficient time for an Elfde Gebod at the Doelencafe before catching the bus out to the airport, for a punctual flight to Gatwick on the AR40. Gatwick broke all baggage handling records - it took a few minutes to get off the plane and after a brief pause in the immigration hall I found my baggage waiting. Plane to car park was no more than 15 minutes - then 20 more to get on to the M23 because of roadworks.
I only managed to last another two months before setting off for Belgium on 4th August 1995.
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