Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Training for hours

Still better here

I would still contend after my experience of getting to work this morning that train travel in the Netherlands is still considerably better than travelling in the UK.

Cost, comfort, convenience and consideration are keys elements of why that service here is better, I have not had to travel 1st class and share my leg room with a German shepherd dog or seen my full price ticket completely devalued by an announcement that anyone could upgrade with a paltry GBP 10 supplement.

However, when the trains get messed up in the Netherlands, they really do get messed up big time.

That 7:57 jinx

I have the choice of 2 direct trains to Apeldoorn from Amsterdam at 7:27 and 7:57 every morning; I prefer the first and sometimes end up on the second which also means I am able to pick up the morning paper without stress.

Looking back over 12 weeks of making this journey, I think the 7:57 seems to have the most problems, it is probably jinxed, I only have problems with this train being cancelled, the journey cut short, the train delayed and sometimes it takes 50% longer to get to my destination.

If I did my assessment of train services based on the 7:57 to Enschede which calls at Hilversum, Amersfoort and Apeldoorn my stop, and to other stations beyond, I could conclude that the service in the Netherlands is absolutely rotten, unreliable, and inefficient, below par and not value for money.

The fat train can’t move

Today, I got the 7:57 train and just managed to get a seat, something seemed to be wrong and how right I was, the train had fewer coaches that most people were standing, in fact, a lady or rather a woman was sitting on the floor. Perhaps, if it were a lady, chivalry would have allowed to give her a seat.

An announcement was made which had an excuse and an apology that the train is so full and advised people to get off at the next stop and catch that later train.

There are usually 2 stops to my destination – Hilversum and Amersfoort, but a few minutes later, another announcement expressed the danger in travelling on such a fully laden train; the fact that speed limits would be lower and hence cause backlogs for other trains – we were told we would all have to get off at a minor stop - Weesp, take a stopping train to Hilversum, then board another stopping train to Amersfoort and then change for one going on to Apeldoorn and further.

The colder breeze of Amersfoort

When I took the stopping train from Hilversum to Apeldoorn, I had to stand and even suffer the discomfort of standing in the rudimentary class carriages to an intermediate stop.

So, when I should have arrived in Apeldoorn at 9:04, I was waiting for the connecting service from Amersfoort which would have left at 9:10 but was running 15 minutes late.

In the middle of November, the weather is hardly sunny and warm so one would expect a short wait in the station waiting rooms only to find that some bird-brained idiot had allowed for a full floor buffing service in the middle of the rush-hour on a cold November morning.

We all had to stand outside for the 20 minutes it took for the train to arrive and it was just coasting 7ÂșC – Brrrrrrgh!

Red lighting taxi

I finally got to Apeldoorn at about 9:50 and took a taxi to the office which was without event till I had to upbraid the driver for running a red light – “That was a very bad thing to do”, I said, he laughed it off and much as it resulted in a cheaper fare, what is the cost of getting caught if it really went wrong?

I cannot bear to think of the consequences, but work resumes with the dramas that makes you feel you could not find a better place to get stressed out.

It is going to be a fine day – at the races.

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