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Hello Fyra – for your rail annoyance 10 December 2012

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

As Truus said, I’m a guinea pig. The ‘high speed’ Fyra, wouldn’t we have guessed it, is experiencing teething problems. To be fair the Thalys did too. I’ve just completed a ride on the “12:41” from Amsterdam, scheduled to arrive at Brussels Midi at 14:42. The trainset arrived in Amsterdam at 12:51 and then sat at platform 13 for a further half hour as a technical problem was sorted out. Meanwhile a competing Thalys loaded up at platform 15, and we pulled out together in perfect parallel formation. Unfortunately there’s only one track, and of course it was us who had to give way somewhere near the romantically-named Transformatorweg. The driver put his foot down through the groene hart and we made it to Rotterdam, but stayed there longer than expected as we broke down again. After that we really got moving and enjoyed a particularly fine view from 24 metres’ altitude (high for Holland remember) on top of the new 1.2 km long Moerdijkbrug over Hollands Diep, which marks the boundary between Holland and Brabant. We were an hour late but making up time…

Fyra at Antwerp

Fyra at Antwerp

But this was too good to be true, because sure enough the power cut out again somewhere near Breda and we cruised to a gentle halt in the middle of nowhere where we waited for a further 20 minutes or so. By the time we got to Antwerp we were 1 hour 16 minutes late and holding up the train behind us. We were eventually turfed out unexpectedly at Brussels North, where we should not normally have even stopped, so that the train could start its return journey only half an hour late.
NS had given me a coffee voucher – but there was no opportunity to use it. Even the catering cart gave up serving the row before it reached me, its operator lying to us that she would be back. There isn’t really enough light to read by – especially in the long stretches that out of respect for the neighbours and/or wildlife are in tunnel. And it’s going to get even less convenient: from 9th January you can only get the €25 fare if you book at least a week ahead.
I completed my journey by tram – but they were running late too, with 5 trams backed up in the North-South tunnel.

PS I sent in a compensation claim and at the end of January I received a 50% refund of my fare, along with a very courteous letter, so that was nice. Meanwhile out on the snowy rails the Fyra 250s are definitely out of service until Ansaldo Breda can ensure that bits don’t drop off them! The poor old passenger has the choice of paying €79 for a Thalys or a 4 1/2-hour journey via Roosendaal or even round via liège and Maastricht. Dutch parliamentarians are pressing for an enquiry into the procurement decision, and Finmecchanica’s credit rating has been slashed to junk status.

from Brussel Deze Week

from Brussel Deze Week

PPS The Belgian rail users’ group puts the Fyra fiasco down to the Dutch and Belgian governments suppressing competition and wanting the whole cake themselves. If Die Bahn had been given the concession, it argues, NS & NMBS would have had to try harder with their existing Beneluxtrein.

Moving on – 15 Dec 2013

Today, with the introduction of the winter timetable, the Fyra brand is finally interred. Henceforth it’s called Intercity Direct.


1. Perhaps one shouldn’t read too much into models | Toby at tipp(l)ing point - 6 May 2013

[…] its track, and no one has rescued it. This is inappropriate because the real-life Thalys (unlike a certain other attempt at a high-speed train in these parts) actually works rather well. Outside the gates, there is a jolly fairground […]

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