August 20, 2018

Sprinter train finally being fitted with toilets

Filed under: General,Health by Orangemaster @ 7:35 pm

Back in 2011 we told you about the Sprinter trains, short distance train that stop at ‘every big tree’ as the Dutch say, that didn’t have any toilets, but claimed to have ‘pee bags’ for anybody needing them. Of course, nobody knows anybody who has ever used them.

We also told you we’d update you if that changed, and it finally did.

Two weeks ago – seven years down the tracks – existing Sprinters are finally being fitted with bathrooms. Dutch railways also admits it was stupid not to have toilets on these trains. There will also be a large wheelchair-accessible toilet, a place for two bikes and a slide-out platform at the door.

It’s not over yet though: the first two trains are on the rails now and all 131 trains should be fitted with proper facilities by 2021.


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July 20, 2018

Dutch Railways deceitful about separating its waste

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 1:41 pm

Train travellers have the option of throwing their waste in separate bins at Dutch train stations, but apparently it all gets pick up together in the end at most stations, including Amsterdam Central Station.

The only notable exception is Rotterdam Central Station where they make extra efforts to pick up the rubbish in several rounds, something that apparently cannot be done in Amsterdam due to having some 250,000 travellers passing through the station. I don’t quite understand that excuse: if it wasn’t possible to start off with, deceiving the public is not the best PR.

Berlin’s train station, which, without checking must get the same if not more travellers than Amsterdam does, manages to separate its garbage into four categories: waste, paper, packaging and glass, and, I’m guessing they make sure it’s not all thrown together in the end. My recent travels to Berlin as well as Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Mannheim, Karlsruhe, Munich and a few other Germany cities showed me that it can be done, so why is Dutch Railways failing so hard?

The separation and reduction of waste at stations, on trains and in retail (shops) are part of the Green Deal agreement between the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and NS [Dutch Railways]. The goal of this agreement is to reduce the waste produced by passengers by 25% and to separate 75% of waste on collection so that it can be recycled by 2020.

Dutch Railways’ excuse is that it costs too much money to pick it up separately and in practice, it doesn’t really work. I still want to know why other European countries can do it and I also want to know how they plan to achieve their goals the way they are going.

(Links:, NS sustainability)

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August 31, 2015

Dutch trains to run on 100% wind energy by 2018

Filed under: Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 3:04 pm


As of 2016 Dutch Rail claims that 50% of all electric trains in the country will run on wind energy. In 2017 that figure should be 95% and in 2018 it would go up to 100%. If successful, it will mean a serious decrease Dutch Rail’s CO2 footprint, something it says is important to passengers.

Some 50% of the wind power needed to run the trains will be generated by new wind parks that will gradually be put into operation in the Netherlands, while the other 50% will come from wind parks in Norway, Sweden and Belgium, managed by power company Eneco and VIVENS, an energy procurement cooperative. “Drawing upon sources outside the Netherlands to source the railways means they avoid decreasing availability and also avoid increasing prices of green power for other parties.”

A total of 1.4 TWh of electricity for the rail system, equivalent to the amount of power used by all households in Amsterdam, needs to be generated.


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January 6, 2014

Belgian train tickets cheaper for Dutch destinations

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 11:04 am

A one way train ticket from Roosendaal, a border station between the Netherlands and Belgium, to Brussels costs 6,50 euro less when buying it from Belgian railways (NMBS) than Dutch railways. A one way ticket from border station Maastricht to Brussels is even 8 euro cheaper, according to Metro.

The NMBS offers a ‘Go Pas’ pass, with which people can travel from either Roosendaal or Maastricht to Brussels for 14,60 euro there and back on the same day. With NS Hispeed (Dutch railways’ international travel company), a day trip from Roosendaal to Brussels costs 26 euro.

The Belgians consider Roosendaal and Maastricht inland stations keeping the price down, while Dutch railways recently hiked its prices to Belgian destinations.

Since saving money is all the rage, there’s always The trend of sharing unstamped train tickets through Facebook.


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January 1, 2014

Dutch railways leans on net neutrality law to block sites

Filed under: IT,Online by Orangemaster @ 8:00 am

The Dutch Authority for Consumers & Markets has approved Dutch railways’ move to block YouTube and Spotify which use a lot of bandwidth in order to provide better quality Wi-Fi in some of their trains. Even though the Wi-Fi is free, the net neutrality law force ISPs and telecom operators to ensure access to all types of content, services or applications available on the network.

Much in the same way as Christian Internet access providers let clients filter the Internet to respect religious beliefs, the Dutch railways has blocked certain ‘data-heavy sites’ to avoid Wi-Fi congestion in trains. As long as the blocking is not selective, it is allowed, although one could easily argue that it is selective, as blocking YouTube and Spotify but leaving out Daily Motion and Deezer is indeed making a selection.

A lot of people in the Netherlands already use Internet mobile on their phones and computers and don’t really need the free service, the service is quite slow and probably won’t improve dramatically, and when something is free, many people don’t expect much of it anyways. However, watchdogs are worried about telecoms like T-Mobile who run the Wi-Fi in trains trying getting around the law to suit its purposes. After all, it’s companies like them who tried to up their prices when they started losing major ground to Skype and WhatsApp, and led to pushing through net neutrality laws in the first place.

The Netherlands made international headlines after being the second country in the world and the first European country to embrace net neutrality. The idea of companies chipping away at it will surely be watched very closely.


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December 11, 2013

Dutch railways to exhibit weird lost and found items

Filed under: Art,Weird by Orangemaster @ 7:00 am

Dutch railways (NS) plans to put on display the oddest items of the past couple of years from its lost and found collection in an exhibit entitled – you guessed it – Lost and Found, starting this Thursday, 12 December until Saturday 14 December on platform No. 2 at Amsterdam Central Station. 24oranges plans on being there when it starts and will report back to you with pictures. Some of the items featured in the exhibit include a prosthetic leg, a 1950s dress, a suitcase full of fake cash and the key to a Porsche.

On average 80,000 items are left in trains and at train stations, and 45% of the time, they are returned to their rightful owner. The Dutch railways lost and found collection piles up in Utrecht, the country’s biggest train station.

They’ll also be a pop-up store where you can actually buy lost and found items that have been restyled by art students from Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The money will go to the nature and environment foundation, Natuur & Milieu.

(Link:, Photo by Jason Rogers, some rights reserved)

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November 8, 2013

The trend of sharing unstamped train tickets through Facebook

Filed under: General,Online by Orangemaster @ 11:09 am

Sharing unstamped train tickets started with a Facebook page for Utrecht Central Station, the country’s biggest train station, with 9,400 likes and counting, and is spreading like wildfire to the rest of the country. Although many people now use a public transport chip card for train travel, paper tickets are still available until next year, and this trick works with paper tickets. It all started with a girl who took a picture of her train ticket and put it on Facebook to share it. Then three guys picked up the idea and started Facebook pages to do the same, with rumours of developing an app.

I plan to go from Amsterdam to Utrecht and back the same day. I buy a paper train ticket, get in the train, travel, and go back to Amsterdam in time for dinner. The train staff didn’t stamp my train ticket, so it can be used again for the same trip. The goal of the Facebook page is to share these tickets by leaving them somewhere at a train station, making someone’s else day, with a small treasure hunt as a bonus.

Technically a train ticket cannot be used twice and it is illegal to do so, but if nobody checks, nothing can be proven, and it’s been like that for ages. So why is it trendy now? Social media makes it easier to share these tickets and the prices keep going up, but not the service, so people are getting creative. As well, finding out that Dutch railways (NS) has been evading taxes to the tune of 250 million euro by buying trains through Ireland will make you stop your moral questioning since the NS is not burdened by any such feelings.

Then again, these Facebook pages are encouraging people to commit fraud, which won’t get the NS to check train tickets more often as they simply do not have the staff for it. The sharing is also not very convenient for one way tickets.

Either way, the message is clear: train tickets are too expensive and people are not happy with the NS.

(Links:,, Photo of train by Flickr user UggBoy hearts UggGirl, some rights reserved)

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July 31, 2012

Commuters watching the Olympic gymnastics program at Leiden railway station

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 4:20 pm

On other days, the central area of the Leiden railway station is a funnel through which the Dutch railways tries to hurry its customers as quickly as possible past fast food concession stands while at the same time relieving them of as much money as possible.

Yesterday, however, people took a few minutes between trips to catch an event of the London 2012 Olympics as shown on two big screens hung by the rail road operator from the ceiling. Wooden benches, fake grass, cheerful umbrellas, and table cloths had turned the place into ‘London Park’, as Dutch railways call it.

Metro notes that the railway stations Utrecht Centraal, Den Haag Centraal, Eindhoven and ’s Hertogenbosch have also received the London Park treatment, albeit at a smaller scale.

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May 15, 2012

Cellist thrown out of train because of cello

Filed under: General,Music by Orangemaster @ 10:17 am

Young Frisian cellist Dana de Vries who studies at a conservatory in Paris was kicked off the train in Groningen a few days ago because she didn’t buy an extra ticket for her cello. The female train attendant, the media specifies, said that the cello was too big and was not hand luggage, which is complete nonsense according to her employer’s house rules. She’s being travelling to Paris for years and this is the first time this has happened.

Dutch railways apologised for the incident, letting the cellist and her cello ride first class for one day.

The part I dislike is Dutch railways calling this a ‘misunderstanding’. A misunderstanding is when someone doesn’t understand someone else or when there’s a disagreement. Neither applies here, as the cellist didn’t misunderstand anything. The term ‘misunderstanding’ is far too often used to spread blame between two parties so that the one that screws up doesn’t feel as bad about doing so. Sometimes, you’re 100% wrong and need to say sorry like an adult, which I am glad Dutch railways did.

And if you though her cello is big, imagine if she was a double bass player.

(Links:,, Photo of Cello by Grumbler %-|, some rights reserved)

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October 7, 2011

Dutch trains to hand out bags to pee in

Filed under: General,Health by Orangemaster @ 6:41 pm

The new current Sprinters, trains for short distances, don’t have any toilets, and that’s a problem for many people. Knowing that these trains jam up in the winter (half of them froze up last year during a storm), going to the bathroom is a real issue.

So what have the Dutch railways come up with? Weeing bags, or ‘plaszakken’ (‘pee bags’), which is a trending topic in the Dutch Twittersphere, if not, it’s just plain trendy. The pee bags are the kind you would buy at an outdoors equipment shop. Oh, and you have to ask the train conductor for one, so you have to find him or her first.

The idea is to take a pee bag and wee in the empty train conductor’s office. They could put a bathroom in there, but no.

Train passenger organisation Rover calls the pee bag “better than nothing” and “an emergency solution.” I say it’s crisis time, and I hope nobody ever needs to do a Number 2 in the train.

UPDATE: When any new Sprinters will be in use, they will have to have toilets. Stay tuned.


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