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Regained property 7 May 2013

Posted by cooperatoby in rail.
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I’m moved to tell a good news story about 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. It only goes as far as the Hague (the line north of there is apparently already full of trains) and takes slightly longer than in the ‘good old days’, about 3 1/4 hours from Amsterdam. But it’s very comfortable: the wait in the Hague is just long enough to buy a sausage roll and coffee, and you don’t have to scurry from platform to platform and miss your connections like you do on the other stupidly arranged services that make you change at Roosendaal and Antwerp. I say it’s comfortable – but it isn’t for the many passengers who just want to hop the 100 km from Rotterdam to Antwerp, because it was standing room only for that stretch. I really don’t see why cross-border collaboration in this busy and linguistically unified market is so difficult for the Dutch and Belgian railways to achieve.
Anyway, back to the good news I started to tell. In the mood for a stroll down through the Grand’ Place in the sun, I got off the train a stop early at Centrale – and going up the escalator realised that the bulge in my pocket where my phone should be wasn’t there. Drama – I must have left it on the seat. I got back on the next train to Midi and spotted the international train parked at platform 21 – but just as I got out, it pulled away to go to its sidings. I took the guard’s advice and went to the lost property office under platform 8. The clerk enquired when I’d left the Hague, looked up the train, filled in a form, asked for my phone number, phlegmatically dialled it (he had obviously done this sort of thing before)… and it rang out audibly! I could have kicked myself, and started to mumble my apologies and scrabble in my rucksack – fruitlessly. The clerk pointed over my shoulder. Right behind me stood the guard off the international train, holding my phone. He had done his duty of walking through the train, found the phone, and brought it to the lost-property office in the same 5 minutes it had taken me to catch him up. And so phone and I were reunited for the modest sum of €4 and we are both living happily ever after. Thanks to him and to NMBS/SNCB for being so efficient.
By the way I’m glad to note that after being stored for 50 days, things you lose on the railway are disposed of by my local social economy 2nd-hand shop, Les Petits Riens/Spullenhulp.

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