August 6, 2019

Biggest bicycle parking in the world in Utrecht

Filed under: Bicycles,Dutch first by Orangemaster @ 7:40 pm

Back in 2013 we told you that the world’s biggest bike garage was to be built in Utrecht. Although it was open for use in November 2018, we never talked about it again, so it’s time to do that.

Located under Utrecht Central Station, also the country’s biggest train station, there’s a huge bicycle garage that can fit 12,500 bikes, but does not already. In 2018, when 7,600 spots were opened, the garage was full in no time and people couldn’t park their bikes.

In the summer of 2020, if all goes well, the garage will add another 4,900 spots to the now existing 7,600 for a total of 12,500. There are now 22,000 public places to park your bike around the station, and another 11,000 will be added in nearby businesses and the former post office a few hundreds metres away with another 700.

The three storey bicycle garage was part of a wider redevelopment of the Central Station area, which is really impressive and so much nicer than the Hoog Catharijne shopping mall annex train station used to be.

(Links:,, Photo:

Tags: , , ,

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)

Tags: , , , ,

March 1, 2018

Germans pass on naming train after Anne Frank

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 2:30 pm


German railway company Deutsche Bahn has decided not to go ahead with plans to name one of their Intercity trains after Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who was deported by train to the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944 and whose diary is world-famous. Frank was German until 1941 when she became stateless while living in Amsterdam.

Last September, Deutsche Bahn asked people to suggest names for trains, and along with Anne Frank, they suggested first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Konrad Adenauer and scientist Albert Einstein. Both Jewish and non-Jewish organisations pounced on the railway company with ‘this is a terrible idea, don’t do it’ and the original reply from the railway company was ‘Anne Frank stands for tolerance and reconciliation’.

Following the criticism, Deutsche Bahn is going to go the ‘IKEA’ route and give the trains names of German rivers and mountains.

A lot of companies and organisations seem to get Anne Frank wrong: as a Halloween costume, an espace room or even as a Spanish musical.


Tags: , , ,

August 25, 2017

Days before the Thalys train incident of 2015

Filed under: Film by Orangemaster @ 11:12 am


It’s been two years since the shooting and stabbing incident that took place on board a Thalys train going from Amsterdam to Paris, where a Moroccan gunman was foiled by three Americans, two of which just happened to be off-duty US Armed Forces servicemen.

On 18 August 2015, a few days before the incident, the two servicemen were cycling around Amsterdam. They approached an Italian friend of mine and asked how to get to the Amsterdam Arena. My friend said “It’s quite a ride away”.”Not a problem, Sir!”, said one of the Americans and my friend proceeded to explain how to get there from downtown. “They thanked me profusely using the over-polite language typical of the USA┬ámilitary”, which is all too often the polar opposite of what one normally hears in Amsterdam.

On 22 August 2015, the morning after the incident, my Italian friend read the news that the brave guys prevented a carnage on the Amsterdam Paris train. “Two years ago I wrote the story on Facebook about giving directions to stranded American tourists who days later turned out to be heroes. My Facebook post was even picked up by local media”.

“The whole story is now being filmed by Clint Eastwood, but my bit of course not in it”, he said jokingly. And that’s too bad, it would work in the film. The funny thing is, my friend’s been in the film business for over a decade if not two in both Italy and the Netherlands, and works with major international directors. The announcement of the film was made months ago, but Facebook’s memory posts brought this all back up for him recently. And to add even more plot to the story, The Guardian wrote that one of the men who foiled the attack, Spencer Stone, needed open heart surgery after being stabbed in late 2015 in an unrelated attack.

(Link: Thalys train attack of 2015, Photo from Facebook)

Tags: , , , ,

January 31, 2017

Musician fined 380 euro for jamming on train

Filed under: General,Music by Orangemaster @ 12:07 pm


Klezmer clarinettist Nathan Dillen and his brother were on a train from Amsterdam to Kampen, Overijssel when he was fined 380 euro for noise nuisance for playing the clarinet.

Unlike many other European countries, the Netherlands rarely has begging musicians in trains, and this was definitely not the case. A few passengers asked to hear the guy play his clarinet and then they checked with everyone else in that carriage if that was OK, which it was.

According to friends who posted the video below online, it was a nice happening until a ‘special investigating officer’ (‘buitengewoon opsporingsambtenaar’ or ‘BOA’) stopped the guys on the platform where they were changing trains and after which the BOA called over the police who fined the musician 380 euro for noise nuisance. And yeah, they missed their train connection and getting home was even less fun.

Music made by begging musicians, which is a rare sight here but does happen, is a no-no and maybe seen as more of a nuisance because it is imposed on people, which was not the case here. There’s also the fact that most begging musicians aren’t Dutch and often illegally in the Netherlands, which doesn’t help public perception. And if I can go out on a limb, the few times I’ve heard begging musicians, it has been clarinet and accordion players playing similar music.

So technically this was noise nuisance, but then it didn’t bother anyone. Dillen is planning to ignore the fine as well.

(Link: waarmaarraar, Photo by Flickr user Kismihok, some rights reserved)

Tags: , , ,

January 22, 2016

Airport baggage car gets lost in Antwerp

Filed under: Aviation by Orangemaster @ 11:46 am

I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of jokes and less funnier stories about lost bags, but this fine film should make you smile: a baggage car from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport gets lost like a tourist in Antwerp.

It’s an advertising stunt for Schiphol because “Schiphol, is closer than you think.” The baggage car is driving through the main square, attracting all kinds of attention. The Dutch driver goes around asking how to get to Schiphol. Some people were helpful with instructions like “drive along the Schelde”, the river that runs in Antwerp, and “keep on for two kilometres then ask again”.

The makers also claim that Antwerp is only an hour train ride way, but that’s with the expensive Thalys train, as there are no normal trains running between Antwerp and Schiphol, a well-known headache for years now. The normal train service between Brussels and Amsterdam that also includes Antwerp and Schiphol is not a direct service and is still a mess (dated article, but gives you an idea).

Then again, Brussels Airport, aka Zaventem, is closer, so why go to Schiphol I wonder, especially if your baggage gets lost in a foreign country.


Tags: , , , ,

October 2, 2014

Dutch Rail sings to shafted train travellers

Filed under: Music,Weird by Orangemaster @ 12:18 pm

Why say sorry if you can sing it, make people smile and rip them off even more? That is exactly what Dutch Rail decided to do when they apparently hired jazz singer songwriter Baer Traa to pose (!) as fictitious train conductor Job van Gils.

Dutch Rail has been making a veritable fortune by not paying back any money owed to people who forgot to check out with their public transport chip card. Now subscriptions holders who forget their pass card and have had to pay a fine cannot ask for their money back either. Even the Dutch Rail employees are appalled and somehow somewhere Baer Traa dressed up as a train conductor got a gig telling people ‘sorry’, or in less polite and more accurate terms, how Dutch Rail is screwing them over easy.

Traa gives ‘peddling excuses’ a whole new meaning at Amsterdam Central Station in this video. He starts singing again at 1:08, as the beginning of the video was the end of one song. He actually tries to explain that Dutch Rail has a new policy that shafts more people than even before.

(Link:, Photo by Flickr user UggBoy hearts UggGirl, some rights reserved)

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.


Tags: , , ,

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)

Tags: , ,

May 31, 2013

Charging your phone at the train station in Rotterdam

Filed under: Dutch first,Technology by Orangemaster @ 7:00 pm

The folks at Dutch Rail (NS) are currently testing a post called the ‘ChagR’ (pic with complicated instructions) that would allow two commuters at a time to charge up their mobile phones for free while they wait for the train. Some 110,000 people take the train every day from Rotterdam Central Station, so if this were to be implemented, more posts would be a must.

Although Dutch Rail has said to be thrilled about the idea, commuter response has been apathetic, with only 40 people having used the post, which works for micro USB, iPhone and even ordinary batteries. The instructions are apparently long-winded and more testing is needed, but the idea is not bad.

I would rather charge my phone in the train and ideally plug in my laptop there as well. I picture easy smartphone theft as well and two people at a time is way too little charging power.

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

Tags: , ,