Dutch Rail has announced that on 14 December it will be changing the name of the train station Schiphol, the national airport station often pronounced ‘Skip-pole’, to Schiphol Airport which will help travellers identify it better as an airport, including a wee airplane pictogram to make it perfectly clear.
One wonders why Dutch Rail didn’t think of that ages ago, as Schiphol is more often than not referred to as Amsterdam Airport Schiphol just like it says on the building or Amsterdam Airport. After all the Netherlands has Eindhoven Airport and Rotterdam The Hague Airport, and many more with that formulation.
The history of the name Schiphol (literally ‘ship hole’ or ‘ship grave’) is interesting as it is unclear and based on theories. No ship wrecks were found when the land was reclaimed. The name could have possibly been related to the portaging of ships, dragging them from one body of water to another or having to do with a ‘hol’ that is a ‘low lying are of land’, as in ‘Holland’.
Using the name Schiphol for airplanes in Dutch is as amusing as using the word ‘shipping’ for sending parcels nowadays that doesn’t involve any ships.
The recently restored former passenger liner SS Rotterdam will stay in the city it was named after, DutchNews reports.
The ship was bought in 2005 by housing corporation Woonbron which wanted to turn it into a hotel and restaurant complex after renovations. Renovations, however, cost 230 million euro, which is 224 million euro over budget. Woonbron started capsizing and had to let go of the monumental steamer, and at the same time of its board member Martien Kromwijk.
NRC adds that the high cost was partially related to the unexpected presence of asbestos on board.
In 2009 the cost overrun was still limited to ‘merely’ 169 million euro, as 24 Oranges reported back then.
The new owner Westcord Hotels, a Dutch hotel chain, paid almost 30 million euro.
Our first video report. It’s got a few glitches as we are trying to get used to a new medium. Enjoy.
Today Sail Amsterdam 2010 started with the traditional parade of tall ships. Led by the clipper Stad Amsterdam, 30 tall ships and a lot of small boats entered IJ harbour, which is wedged between Java Island and Piet Heinkade.
Sail Amsterdam was first organised in 1975 and has since been held every five years. The festivities will continue for the next three days, and include live music and theatre. On Friday a parade of barely floating home-built boats will be held in the canals of Amsterdam, the so-called Pieremachocheltocht. Most of the tall ships can be visited for free between 10 am and 4 pm.
This year’s event drew criticism from ship owners, who feel they have to pay the organisers too much money. They think it is wrong that so much of the proceeds of an event that is heavily sponsored by the government disappear in the pockets of a nebulous agency, Sail Arrangementen. The latter replied in newspaper De Pers that they do not understand what all the hoopla is about, as the ships’ owners still sell a lot of tickets.
The SS Rotterdam, a beautiful 50-year-old steam ship is now fully renovated, but instead of costing the original EUR 25 million, it turned out to be a whopping EUR 175 million. The reasons for this major cockup include lack of expertise, lack of direction, language issues and an underestimation of the project’s complexity. In other words, the people on this project were apparently not competent enough to get it done properly, although I’m sure it looks great.
When I saw this item on television, some Dutch man ‘dared to say’, as the Dutch would put it, that they suck at large-scale projects. Why do we take them on if we can’t get them done right and within budget? Are the Dutch that bad, are the projects way too ambitious or is this just a run of bad luck? Language problems? I can’t even imagine that was an issue.
If you add the SS Rotterdam to the list of recent and ongoing disastrous large-scale projects, such as the high-speed train (not a single train ran on time the day they went high-speed, according to the telly), the North-South metro line in Amsterdam (budget is running into the EUR 2 billion), the cargo train route known as the Betuwe line (among the most costly and most controversial large–scale government projects ever built in the country), you wonder why the country likes to bang their heads against the wall like this.
Don’t we ask for help abroad? Are politicians making all these insane decisions? I’m trying to understand as I can’t seem to explain it away to friends, family and tourists.