You wouldn’t say with all the complaints but the Dutch do actually love taking the train. Despite all the small delays, it’s one of the most effective, efficient and clean ways to get around the country. And there’s news from several stations as Holland is trying to improve the system.
“For the Grand Prize! Which Door Do You Pick?!” – ProRail will Tell You!
It’s all nice and well when the train arrives on schedule, grinds to a halt and you’ve got that ticket clenched into your sweaty fist but – where do you even board? Through the door, sure – thank you, genius, but which one? Most trains are made out of multiple “Classes”, sometimes stacked on top of each other with double decker trains. It’s not uncommon to get lost and once the train is moving, especially with luggage to drag along, you might give up soon and just sit down ‘somewhere’.
Then, five minutes later, some man or woman in uniform that ranges from ages mid-forties to mid-fifties opens the compartment door with a little pocket computer in hand. And they’re giving you that look. They know, you know – your wallet knows, f#ck everything.
Well, ProRail – the company that maintains the rail networks and stations – is trying something new at Amsterdam’s ultra-busy Schiphol Airport. Starting this Friday a big LED-screen will be hung over the train platform right where the steel caterpillar stops – all you have to do then is take a peak. Because from now on the screen will show you exactly which compartment, door and area to pick – thank God because that’s one less thing to worry about with a leaking suitcase full of exploded shampoo bottles, three crying kids, a grumpy husband, a screaming wife and some shady dude standing way too close to your teenage daughter…
It also means that the flow of passengers in and out of the train will be better regulated, and the trains will be able to stick to their schedules much better. And this is important because Schiphol is booming, in fact Schiphol is about to tear out of its skin in growth – the flow of commuters to and from Schiphol has become enormous and many of them are coming by train, ProRail and the NS (Netherlands Railways) are trying to keep up. The LED screen is one method, there will also be more NS personnel to spread passengers evenly across platforms – so people are boarding faster and less likely to drop off platforms onto the rails and becoming a squished, sun bathed water melon.
An extra escalator to the taxi-grounds is also in the works!
Amsterdam Central Station: “You Shall Not Pass!” (Without your OV-card)
No really, they’re serious – starting December 4th the NS has closed off most of the station for ‘the common people’, that’s right, scum – take a hike! So does this mean the NS and ProRail have built a wall better and faster than Trump? Well no, it’s not as bad as you think!
See, they’ve done a lot of work on the Netherlands’ busiest railway station, restoring it’s 19th-century beauty but also adding brand new parts and improving the station overall. One of those improvements is the addition of two, large, ‘pedestrian passages’ which means there are two large hallways for you to pass through if you’re just looking to get through to the other side of the otherwise massive Victorian-complex without delay.
Before this everyone was mingled together: Passengers, personnel, random passers-by, security and worse – troublemakers!
That’s why the NS and ProRail have decided to separate the areas much like an airport – there’s public spaces and ‘traveling spaces’ now, you may enter the public space freely (though you may need to use your Public Transportation “OV”-card and can’t stay longer than an hour for some parts!) and do your thing, but for the travel areas you will need at least an OV-card/ticket with a sufficient amount of money on it to enter.
So you can still visit a station-restaurant or store, or say goodbye to a loved one, if you enter with a card but you can’t go up all the way to the platforms. And, as we said, there’s a time limit now so you can’t hang around for more than an hour which is fair because it also prevents pick pockets, drifters, the mentally confused, drunk and angry people from having enough time to cause trouble and going in and out anonymously. From now on you’re welcome to visit – but the NS and ProRail will at least know you’re there and to make sure you can still go around the gates, there’s the aforementioned pedestrian passages.
So, from now on, either take one or the other pedestrian passage or just bring your OV-card and don’t forget to check back out on the other side of the station. You will probably also find the station to be much more organized, calm and effective – and it sure needed it!
Happy travels from and to Amsterdam!