Transportation

Transportation (Or: Trains, trams and… shopping carts?)

It’s a random news day, I think.

The major train provider (NS) is in the middle of a strike. There are 5 days where workers will strike. Today was day 1, in the north of the country. Friday is this area’s turn (The Hague, Leiden, Rotterdam, etc.). There are three more regions set to strike next week, with national strikes possibly following in September. Hmmm.

Not to be outdone, there was also a news story about Scheveningen getting a new tram depot in a few years. This is needed because the newer Avenio trams (Dutch Wikipedia) are wider and don’t fit in the current depot.

And, as the final form of transportation:

Albert Heijn (a Dutch grocery store chain) has been using a coin deposit system to unlock carts since the mid ’80s. As you might expect, this was to prevent carts from going missing. But this system was suspended in the last few years due to corona and Albert Heijn noticed that even without the system the number of “missing” carts did not go increase. So they decided to scrape it entirely. Personally I am not really affected since I don’t have a car. No car = limited carrying capacity = shopping basket for me.

That was also the rule I lived by in the States, since I didn’t have a car there either. Did you know “never having to learn to drive” was in the “pro” column when we were debating if I move to the Netherlands or if Marco moves to the States, way back when? Yep, I hate driving that much.

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Trams in The Hague (Or: Colors and tunnels)

Here are two tram-related photos for you. First, a white Avenio tram:

Avenio is the newest type of tram available in The Hague. The big plus for this type of tram is that the there are no stairs to enter it – the door is at the same height as the platform. This is of course useful for people in wheelchairs, people with strollers, etc. Until this year the tram was black and red (see Dutch Wikipedia) but the white/red combination stands out more and is better for traffic safety. Each tram is being repainted as it comes in for a scheduled repair job, so it will take about a year for the black/red tram to disappear from The Hague’s streets.

This is a photo of the entrance to the tram tunnel which services the underground Grote Markt stop and the Spui stop. Trams coming in this direction are headed towards The Hague Central train station and trams going away from this direction are headed above ground, towards the Brouwersgracht stop.

While there isn’t a tram pictured, I thought the plants were nice to photograph. Perhaps I should take another photo in a few weeks to see if the trees still look green. About half of Europe is experiencing drought conditions at the moment. I hate to say it but we could use a bit of rain. Here is a map from the European Drought Observatory.

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Vroom vroom (Or: Louwman museum in The Hague)

Today Marco and I visited the Louwman museum in The Hague. I scheduled this as a surprise for Marco a few weeks back. Consider it a late birthday present. The museum’s collection started in 1934 and the museum has been in its current location since 2010.

On the one hand, it is kind of funny that I wanted to go to a car museum as 1) I don’t have a driver’s license 2) I don’t like riding in cars, even as a passenger 3) if I hear someone got a new car the first (and only) thing I ask is “What color is it?”.

The museum starts with horse drawn carriages and old cars like the one above. Otherwise known as death traps. An honorable mention not pictured in this blog is the Sunbeam-Mabley Motor Sociable. The driver sat in the back (on the right side of the photo) and the passengers sat in front of him (!), but facing sideways. The wheels were also deliberately not aligned, which made skidding less of a risk but falling over more of a risk. Hmmmm.

The car above is the reason why we visited the museum. They have an F1 legends exhibition on the ground floor. On its own I don’t think the exhibition was worth visiting (it features 8 cars on loan) but coupled with a visit to the museum itself it is worth it. The cars on display took part in the Dutch Grand Prix between 1948 and 1970. The exhibit runs through September 4, coincidentally the day of the 2022 Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort. The car above is Jim Clark’s Lotus 33 which won the Dutch Grand Prix in 1965.

The museum also had a display of car related toys (above). They also have a sizable display of art, including posters, sculptures, cigarette cases, miniatures and other memorabilia.

Here is a lovely blue car with wicker seats, because why not? Read more here. Another wacky example is the swan car and the boat car (not seaworthy, unfortunately).

Above is a 1965 Ferrari owned by the Dutch Prince Bernhard. The prince specifically requested the metallic paint color “Verde Pino”. It is a beautiful color, and apparently the car goes fast too (the name of the car being Superfast Speziale).

You can browse through the rest of the cars by checking out their online car collection.

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No transport for you (Or: Likely strike by HTM on Thursday, June 2)

Last week workers by HTM (The Hague’s public transportation company in this area) announced that they would be going on strike on Thursday, June 2. Among other things, drivers are looking for 5% extra pay and a solution for too much work.

Staking bij HTM: binnenkort hele dag geen trams en bussen in Haagse regio at omroepwest.nl in Dutch (Strike at HTM – in the near future no trams or buses in The Hague region)

At first I thought there might be a chance that the the news came out early because they were hoping to bring attention to the situation while negotiations continue, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. On Google I found a page over at cnvvakmensen.nl (a trade union): Oproep tot staking 2 juni HTM. This page explains what HTM workers should do if they are working in the morning, or a later in the day, or a night shift into morning that day, and more. Even what they should do if they want to show solidarity but not strike (take a day off) or what they should do if they don’t want to strike (contact HTM and work their shift in the the garage as HTM has also said no buses or trams will ride if there is a strike).

So at the moment it looks like the strike will happen, although the news hasn’t really been broadcast widely on The Hague’s news sites or on htm.nl – yet.

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Naked tram rails (Or: A look at tram 16’s construction)

This year the tram tracks for tram 16 are being re-done to allow for the new Avenio tram (htm.nl, in English). The Avenio tram is wider so almost the entire track needs to be re-done to accommodate this.

This area is not far from the Buitenhof / Hofvijfer / Dutch parliament. You can see the parliament buildings in the background on the right side. Due to the construction tram 16 is currently taking the route of tram 1 on its way to Statenkwartier. You can read more about the construction over at denhaag.nl in English. The end of the route, Statenkwartier, will be tackled in the second half of this year. At that point tram 16 will ride over the route of tram 3 for part of its journey. The expectation is that everything will be done by March 2023.

For the most part I am a fan of Avenio trams, especially as they are level with the ground so you don’t need to go up or down a few stairs like you do with the old trams. (That came in handy once when I bought something heavy. Distance wise I could have easily walked home but due to how heavy it was I decided to take one of the Avenio trams to get closer to my house.) It is of course also helpful if you have a stroller or luggage.

The only thing I don’t like about the Avenio trams is that both sides are two seaters. The old trams are a bit narrower and have 2 seaters on the left side and single seaters on the right. When I am traveling alone I always go for a single seat or I stand.

The color of the Avenio tram (omroepwest.nl in Dutch) will slowly be changing from red-black to white-red between now and the end of 2023. As each tram comes in for maintenance it will be updated. I did see one in the wild already last month but I didn’t have time to take a photo. The Hague’s public transportation company HTM is doing this because it is easier to see white-red than it is black-red, so it is a bit safer for traffic.

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Just how crowded is it? (Or: Sign in a tram in The Hague)

Earlier last month while on a tram ride I spotted a sign asking Is het rustaagh?!

Is het rustaagh?! is the equivalent of the Dutch saying Is het rustig? but spelled with an Hague accent. It means “Is it busy?” in English. It was a sign promoting HTM’s service to show how crowded a tram was in the HTM app or on the HTM website. The service was first introduced in September of last year, with occasional promotion popping up during the busier months.

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Who needs to get home? (Or: I thought my day was annoying)

After a long workday (one more day until the weekend!) I logged off around 17:00, glad to close the computer and rest my brain for a bit. Turns out it could be worse: there are no trains running at the moment in the country. There is a disruption with the train communication system. That means traffic controllers can’t speak with the conductors. This is deemed a safety risk so all trains have been stopped.

Dutch rail traffic shut down over train control telephone outage from nltimes.nl.

Rijdt niet = not riding

The crazy thing is that this is not the first time this happened this year. It also happened back in May (also nltimes.nl in English). It makes me glad that I don’t need to grab the train today – good luck to everyone who does!

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Through the centre of The Hague (Or: Tourist tram)

Side note: it is getting way too easy to use the British spelling for some phrases, like “centre” instead of “center”. Hmmm.

Below is a photo of the tourist tram riding through the centre (!) of the city. The Grote Kerk (literally “Big Church”) is off to the left, just out of the photo. I’ve posted a picture of this area a few times after its renovation a few years back. It looks a lot better with the greenery and stone walkways than it used to look.

Here is a photo of the church from the air (pre-renovation), from monumentenzorgdenhaag.nl. And here is information on the tourist tram, from denhaag.nl in English. Unfortunately it is a bit overpriced, but for tourists it could be nice.

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“New” check in machines in older Dutch trams (Or: No more gibberish)

In a sign that I no longer ride the tram every day, here is a photo of a new check in / out machine in the older Dutch trams. They were first installed back in January of this year in older red-and-beige trams (article in Dutch from omroepwest.nl).

The “no more gibberish” comment is in reference to a blog post that I did late last year where I showed how screwed up the older machines were getting. One of the bigger pluses with the new machines is the space for where you can put your card is much wider (basically hold your card against the screen or underneath). I still remember with faint embarrassment how I tried to put my OV chip card on the tiny green screen when I first moved here (see image in the blog post linked above). With the old machines you needed to put your card against the white part where the pink logo was. Opps.

And also public transportation related: Dutch trains to start return to old timetables within 2 weeks from nltimes.nl. If all goes according to the government’s plan the advice to only travel if strictly necessary will also expire next week, which means trains will get much busier.

But we will see how the coming days play out. On the one hand the government wants to ease restrictions to help the economy (among other things), on the other hand we had over 9,600 corona cases today, the most since early January. It will be an interesting few weeks, that’s for sure.

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Brushing up on the Dutch (Or: A new podcast)

I decided to start following a new Dutch podcast a few days ago, a slightly nerdy one in fact. The name is Spoorcast (Apple | Spotify). It is about Dutch trains (spoor being Dutch for track). Actually, my favorite hobby has always been to read up on The Hague’s tram system, but trains are second best. However I don’t follow as much public transportation news since the pandemic started.

I listened to an old episode of Spoorcast from last year and learned that Rotterdam is working on their own sort of High Line, re-using elevated railroad tracks as a park. I also felt a bit nerdy when I realized I was actually enjoying one of the more recent episodes about the interior of a train. I was glad to hear they also think the current mini trash cans by each seat area are way, way too loud. I jump every time someone slams the lid down…

When I first started listening I was dismayed to hear that it was very difficult to understand what they were saying, as each episode featured three or four people talking to each other. They kept interrupting each other and talking over what the other was saying. I was starting to wonder if this was actually a Belgian podcast (wouldn’t be the first time!) or a Frisian podcast since it was so difficult to comprehend. And then I realized I had it on my default speed setting for podcasts (1.4x). I reduced it to 1.2x and suddenly it was much more bearable. Strange I guess. I usually don’t have issues with the speed, even with the other Dutch podcasts I listen to like Echt Gebeurd. Who knows.

Photos from the “most loved” Dutch station, Klimmen-Ransdaal. See also this Dutch article from ns.nl: Waardering voor stations stijgt naar recordhoogte which talks about the most loved stations in 2020.

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