This story about the Dutch Aunt Sally, just adds to the mess the of the high speed train.
But as Fyra doesn’t actually go to The Hague, where the Dutch parliament sits, they would have to change at Rotterdam or drive there anyway.
I’ve also had a look on the Eurostar web site. They’re saying this.
To travel to the Netherlands book your Eurostar to Brussels first and then your Thalys train from Brussels to Amsterdam, Schiphol or Rotterdam.
I suppose they’re only telling you what is possible.
Let’s face it London to Amsterdam is probably only a similar distance, as London to say Perth in Scotland. I haven’t done that journey but I know it would be one web purchase not two, as incidentally so would London to Geneva on Eurostar’s web site, changing in Paris.
It’s a complete mess and it seems to be getting worse, with little leadership or common sense being shown.
The launch on the Fyra trains between Brussels and Amsterdam, must rank as one of the worst launches of any train services in the last few years. We’ve had a few bad ones in the UK, where reliability has been questioned and we’ve also had problems with the wrong kind of snow, but nothing, which seems to have been hated by so many as this train has. The BBC tries to explain the mess here.
If we are going to go back to the future, let’s hope that Eurostar are able to reinstate their beautifully simple ticket to Any Dutch Station.
I will be first in the queue to buy one!
If they don’t I’ll just go by train to that jewel of the Essex coast; Southend, get in an orange aeroplane and hop across to Schipol. The Belgians, Brussels and the planet will all be losers.
We have had problems with trains including the wrong kind of snow, but the Dutch with their new high speed trains called Fyra seem to have got the wr0ng kind of everything, like politicians, strategy and trains. It’s all described here on a Dutch web site. This is the introduction.
The problems with the Fyra high-speed train service from Amsterdam to Brussels are as much to do with politicians as with the train manufacturer and railway operators, according to the main Dutch railway union chief.
Roel Berghuis of union FNV Spoor says the problems with the Fyra service go ‘well beyond the teething problems when a new train is brought in’.
So don’t knock Network Rail and the train operating companies too much, as it might happen here.
It was so cold today, that I joked to one of the driver/conductors on the 38 bus, that they were outsourcing them with Eskimos.
But seriously, on The One Show tonight, a doctor said that Eskimos shake their hands to keep them warm. I shall be trying it, if this weather persists.
I have heard from my friend in The Netherlands, that it could be as low as -13°C in Rotterdam with quite a bit of snow on the ground.
Hopefully, it won’t get that cold here tonight.
The instructions on my dinner tonight from Marks and Spencer are in English, French and surprisingly Dutch.
Does that mean their food shops are going to The Netherlands and/or Belgium?
This old news item in the Independent confirms that they are looking in The Hague and Rotterdam.
But then the CEO of Marks and Spencer is Dutch! Is that a form of nepotism to open in your own country?
In The Hague on Tuesday night, we went out to dinner to a restaurant called Sapori d’Italia in the Javastraat. It’s the second time, I’ve eaten in that road and although both weren’t cheap they were excellent and knew their gluten-free.
We had a lot of real Italian antipasti of which the most unusual was a very garlicky crostini on gluten-free bread. It was obviously, easy to make and surprisingly gluten-free toast makes a good crostini.
We also went for lunch on Wednesday to an Italian style cafe, where gluten-free was again no problem.
The Netherlands may have very quirky train ticketing, but their cooking for coeliacs is pretty good.
I think it is true to say, that Dutch train tickets and how you purchase them will be rather strange to many British travellers.
The use of credit cards is actively discouraged and for example, you’ll pay a surcharge if you can find a machine that accepts cash or credit cards.
No machine seems to accept notes.
At least at a few stations, like Den Haag Central and Schipol, there will be a ticket office, but I never found it at Den Haag HS.
I don’t know what you do there, if you haven’t got a debit card!
I did buy a ticket at Den Haag Central ticket office, but I was in a queue for twenty minutes. Just imagine, the flak a UK train company would get if you had to wait that length of time for a ticket. And we’re supposed to like queues!
I’ve used machines extensively in Italy and the Dutch system is certainly inferior. It’s also very foreigner friendly with several languages being shown. The Dutch use just two; Dutch and English.
On my way out at Schipol, I met a student from Delft University, who was researching the ticketing on Dutch trains. He was effectively being a ticketing advisor to all of the foreigners coming into the airport and wanting to take a train from the airport. When I last came into Gatwick, there were three Transport for London employees to make sure travellers got the right ticket advice.
Is it rather arrogant to expect visitors to your country to immediately know how buy tickets in a language they’ve never seen before, from a strange machine, which won’t accept cash or credit cards? A New Yorker wouldn’t be able to pop back to get his debit card!
This afternoon I was in Walthamstow Central station and gave the ticket machine a good once-over. The first thing you notice is that the UK machine, as are the Italian ones I remember, is very much bigger than the equivalent Dutch machine. but then it accepts coins and notes, as well as most credit and debit cards. It also deals with a lot more operations, like collecting tickets bought on-line.
The Dutch machine is a lot simpler and has much less glitz, so I suspect it was designed down to a price and as it looks cheap and nasty on the outside, I suspect the inside isn’t very bright.
After all it does the same thing as the British machine does and just issues you with a small piece of card.
The on-line tickets are all print yourself jobs on a sheet of A4 paper. In theory print at home tickets are one of those ideas that looks good on paper, but in practice could be a serious nuisance and especially at times, when it matters. Printers do run out of paper and ink and just suppose you book a ticket in a hotel room on your laptop.
When I bought the ticket for Brussels to Den Haag, I got one ticket for each leg of the journey. I didn’t have a problem, but the layout of the information like carriage and seat number is not good and I had to get someone to tell me the latter, as I got it wrong and was going to the wrong seat.
On the high speed train, you need a reservation and walk-up tickets seem very discouraged. Not having tried it, I wouldn’t know and if anybody has, I’d like to know.
But Dutch train ticketing seems to be a system designed to be cheap to run and easier for the company, than the customers. The very fact that two months ago, one ticket got me from London to The Hague and this week it was three tickets is surely a retrograde step.
They may be very last century, but I’m beginning to like the simple card tickets designed by British Rail more and more.
The Dutch and the Belgians have given the new high speed train linking Brussels and Amsterdam the name Fyra. Here’e what Wikipedia says about the origin of the name.
The name Fyra represents pride, and is derived from the Dutch and French words fier/fière, both meaning proud.
Pride or proud is not a name that would be high on an Englishman’s choice, as pride comes before a fall. I think it’s from the bible!
Saying that various ferries across the Channel have been named Pride of Dover, Calais etc.
I do suppose the Dutch and the Belgians had a problem here, with their various languages. But then in the UK, some of our fastest trains; Class 390 Pendolinos, keep their Italian names.
Someone has just told me that the Dutch have another name for the train. This is the first paragraph from the story.
The Fyra is actually a high speed of Aldi. If you have a cheapest possible train orders, you get those too.
I wonder what Aldi thought of the free publicity.