June 2, 2019

Guinness record for tall people in Utrecht

Filed under: General,Weird by Orangemaster @ 9:58 pm

A few days ago, some 850 tall people in Utrecht broke the world record for the most tall people in one place, a record previously set by Australia, with 136 tall people. The Guinness Book of Records still needs to approve the Dutch attempt – they had three observers going around measuring people’s height.

Tall is meant to be about 1,80 metres for women and 1,90 metres for men. Knowing that the Dutch are the tallest people in the world, I guess it was just a case of getting them a lot of them together in one place. People came from all over Europe and even the United States and Canada to participate.

The record attempt was organised by the Klub Lange Mensen (the Long People Club) who have 3,500 members, and who recently made sure the minimum height of entrances to building in the Netherlands was increased. The club also works with Dutch Railways to make sure tall peole can sit comfortably in their trains.

(Link: nos.nl, Photo of Dom Tower, Utrecht by Massimo Catarinella, some rights reserved)

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February 11, 2019

Train app to find a seat in real time rolls out

Filed under: Dutch first,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:19 am

For years, there’s been a Dutch Rail app called ‘NS reisplanner’ (‘NS travel planner’) that helps you sort out train travel. Soon enough, the app will also let you find an actual place to sit in the train, in real time.

After a successful trial that started last year in April, the ‘find a seat’ feature will be integrated into NS reisplanner, with specific trains gradually added, such as Utrecht-Nijmegen. The app uses a sensor per train carriage to see if there’s anywhere to sit and displays the information in the app using the colours green, orange and red. As of next year, the whole country should be covered, according to a spokesperson from Dutch Rail.

The app is available for both iPhone and Android in Dutch and in English.

(Links: rtvutrecht.nl, androidplanet.nl, Photo by Flickr user UggBoy hearts UggGirl, some rights reserved)

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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.

(Link: nos.nl)

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January 22, 2018

Hanging off a Dutch train is dangerous

Filed under: Weird by Orangemaster @ 3:58 pm


There’s possibly (but hopefully not) a new trend in jackass land, and it’s about hanging onto a moving train on the outside like James Bond, but then for real and purely for shock value.

The Climbing Dutchman is pissing off Dutch rail operator ProRail with his extremely dangerous stunts, but he couldn’t care less, and has done it before. While ProRail says that this is ‘intolerable behaviour and against the law’ and has filed a complaint with the police, The Climbing Dutchman’s answer was, “go ahead and complain to the police again”, implying that he doesn’t think he’ll ever be caught.

ProRail is trying to have this video deleted from YouTube, but of course, it can still easily be found, which says a lot about YouTube.

Update December 2018: new video, as the old one had been deleted.

(Link: ed.nl,Photo by Flickr user Kismihok, some rights reserved)

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November 5, 2017

Do not break our trains, please — a visit to the Dutch Rail workshop in Amsterdam

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 2:08 pm

The Amsterdam onderhoudsbedrijf Watergraafsmeer, the workshop of Dutch Rail in Amsterdam and one of a few dozen in the country, opened its doors to the general public yesterday.

The workshop is part of a large classification yard in the east of Amsterdam and can be tricky to reach, which is why Dutch Rail had borrowed the Mat ’54 (a hondekop, dog’s head) electric train from Stichting Hondekop to shuttle visitors between Central Station and the yard.

The Mat ’54s were in service between 1956 and the mid-1990s. They were replaced by the very similar looking Mat ’64, which lacked the distinctive ‘dog’s head’ (introduced to better protect the driver) and which were used into the 2000s.


Also on display were a German ICE high speed train, a postal train, several regular trains that may or may not be in service still (sorry for the dearth of details, I am not a train geek) and Dutch Rail’s executive train, De Kameel (The Camel).


The latter’s official designation is NS20. Only one was ever built, in 1954 by Rotterdam train builder Allan. It was scrapped for spare parts in 1991, but brought back in 2008. The train consists of two rooms with a clear view of the tracks front and back, a toilet and a kitchenette, with dual cabs built in the roof.



The whole event, mostly taking place in what Nedtrain claims is the largest plastic building in Europe, was a rather charming affair with engineers still working (behind barricade tape) on trains, necessitating house rules such as “leave our tools alone”, “never stick your fingers in machines” and “please leave our trains the way you found them”.


Scrapped train parts such as signs and emergency brakes, familiar to anyone who has commuted on Dutch trains, were sold for 20 euro each, the proceeds going to a good cause.


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November 25, 2015

Schiphol train station to be renamed in December

Filed under: Aviation by Orangemaster @ 11:36 am

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.

(Links: www.rtvnh.nl, en.wikipedia.org)

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November 19, 2015

Arnhem picks up concrete award for train station

Filed under: Architecture by Orangemaster @ 1:25 pm


After ages of construction work and trying to find one’s way through and around during the construction, Arnhem’ Central Station is being officially opened to the public this afternoon. It was designed by Amsterdam’s UNStudio who spent almost two decades working on this modern train and bus station with a heavy use of really big metal pillars and seriously twisted concrete. In fact, architect Ben van Berkel of UNStudio wanted to use even more concrete, but the city considered it too risky.

The concrete itself won the station the ‘Betonprijs 2015’ (‘Concrete Award 2015’), so it’s safe to say enough concrete was used to make a splash.

(Links and photo: www.dezeen.com, www.gelderlander.nl)

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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.

(Links: techxplore.com, www.dekoepel.org)

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August 16, 2014

Rail companies to experiment with lasers against leaves

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 3:54 pm

ProRail is planning to use lasers to burn off the leafy mulch that coats rails in the autumn, Z24 reports.

The experiment is a collaboration between ProRail (network), Dutch Rail (operator) and Delft University of Technology. In another test, suggested by a train driver and also held this autumn, ProRail will wet rails to prevent leaves from sticking to them.

A similar trial with lasers was done in 2006 in the UK. At the time, ProRail felt the technology was not good enough. Industrial Laser Solutions has an interesting article about the technology.

In the autumn falling leaves form a mulch that cause train wheels to slip and slide. As a result, both braking and accelerating go slower, causing delays in the service.

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April 21, 2014

Dutch Rail’s slow replacement for high speed train keeps breaking down

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 3:14 pm

traxx-roel-hemkesIf you’ve followed the drama with Dutch Rail’s showpiece train Fyra, you’ll remember that they had to replace it because it kept embarrassing them by dropping parts on the rails and by not running as often as one would expect from a regular train service.

The replacement came in the form of Bombardier’s Traxx locomotives. According to Metro, the new train is not without its own problems. Last Friday the paper wrote that a Traxx train breaks down about 4.8 times a day on average. As a comparison, the Thalys, a high speed train run by a consortium of European countries that uses the same tracks, only breaks down once a day.

The malfunctions of the Traxx system are partially caused by a failure to connect the train to its overhead lines. A spokesperson for Dutch Rail told Metro that Thalys trains are more capable of restoring a connection to the overhead lines than Traxx locomotives.

A plan by transport company Arriva to operate an Amsterdam – Brussels connection on the high speed track was flat-out rejected by junior transport minister Wilma Mansveld last October. She sees no reason to take away the lucrative connection from state-owned Dutch Rail.

(Photo of a Traxx locomotive at Amsterdam Central Station by Roel Hemkes, some rights reserved)

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