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Bye bye Beneluxtrein 9 December 2012

Posted by cooperatoby in Amsterdam, Brussels.
Tags: , ,

Brussels-AmsterdamOn Friday I made my last journey on the Beneluxtrein, the conventional train that has trundled between Brussels and Amsterdam every hour for the last few decades. It was an unexpectedly emotional experience. Today, the service has been replaced by the new-fangled but controversial Fyra. The good news is that it lops no less than an hour off the journey time, which drops at a stroke to two hours one minute. The bad news is that you have to book in advance and the fare is doubling. Till now, ditherers had the luxury of just turning up at the station and getting on whichever train one wanted, and if you had a Dutch voordeelurenkaart it cost €26-60 single. From now on, the full fare is €54 – over double – with advance booking bringing it down to €41 or even €25. The €25 ‘supersaver’ is a good deal, but there are two cracks on the rail. First, we depend on the quota of cheap seats, which is now 75%, being maintained. Secondly, we have to book at least a day in advance or in effect be ‘fined’ €27-40. It’s more flexible than the Thalys – €69 walk-on – but why make things difficult for everybody?
Another potential problem is capacity. The Beneluxtrein has been incredibly popular – at going-home time it is often standing room only from Brussels to the Hague and from Schiphol to Amsterdam. They have replaced 16 daily Beneluxes with just 10 Fyras, so where are the excluded 40% of passengers going to go?
The boss of NS smiled and placated his way through an interview on Buitenhof this morning, but there’s no escaping the own goals that NS has scored. It has unilaterally withdrawn the direct service between the Hague and Brussels, and the only other train crossing the border is the slow train from Roosendaal to Antwerp which stops something like 10 times. More treacherously, it has made season-tickets invalid.
Our conductress on Friday was valiant and inexplicably upbeat. She explained patiently in 3 languages why we were held up behind another train crawling from Leiden to Hoofddorp, why most of the toilets werent working (but surely they will be reusing the carriages?) and finally even coped with good humour when someone attending a rock concert in the Arena pulled the ccommunication cord just as we were about to enter the station. She thanked us for patronising the Beneluxtrein for all these years. It was a high point. I don’t know what I’m going to do with all those saved hours in the future.


1. Regained property | Toby at tipp(l)ing point - 14 May 2013

[…] Belgian railways, just for a change. Last week I rode from Amsterdam to Brussels on the reborn Beneluxtrein – or alternatively the proto-Lage Landen Lijn, which has now settled into a 2-hourly service. […]

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