Fifteen minutes

Commuting by train in the Netherlands is usually no problem. Yesterday, however, Nederlandse Spoorwegen—the state-owned rail operator of the Netherlands—had to delay some of its services. Back in the UK, I wouldn’t even consider writing about delays on the railways: it would be a waste of my time. Everyone[who?] knows the UK suffers from the worst rail delays in Europe[citation needed] and, in my experience at least, encountering delays on the British railway network is anything but unusual. Dutch railways on the other hand: that’s a different story. I wrote the draft of this post on a reasonably-packed (ten people standing in the aisle of a seventy-five-ish-seat-carriage; 113% crowded) intercity naar Enschede; the stoptrein I usually get home from the office was delayed by… well: the announcements said five minutes, but 18:04–17:55 is nine minutes. Anyway, I’m used to a much quieter train—I don’t care for men talking loudly about “the datas [sic] in the clouds”and how “[in] the future, the normal PC will disappear”; people coughing and sneezing on the blue and striped carriage moquette; at least there aren’t any chavs on-board and I haven’t heard a screaming baby sinc– (Out at Hilversum and there’s a shitcake screaming and whaling in a pram on spoor 2.)

Yesterday morning, the stoptrein to Leiden did arrive, fifteen minutes later than scheduled. I arrived at Duivendrecht with perhaps ten minutes to go before work so instead of risking arriving late by walking, I hopped on the Metro—what a foul and disgusting one-stop journey that was. I’ll have to research, but I swear those carriages were from the 70s, complete with an 8-bit ‘hammers’ voice announcer. Then, after running off the train and elbowing everyone London-style, …I fell down a fifteen-step staircase on the way out of the station: where was this sign when I needed it?

I wrote this post over the course of about an hour-and-a-half yesterday evening and, while waiting for a stoptrein south via oo-treɣt oa-fer-veɣht, in front of me was something I don’t think I’ll ever get used to—a DB service to Hannover Hbf, with announcements for its service in no less than three languages. It’s an odd thought seeïng a train to Germany. I think you need to book a seat reservation in advance, but there’s no glass security fencing like at St Pancras International; no customs or passport control to stress over. It’s an alien idea, this ‘free movement between countries’ thing and that is what I don’t think I’ll get used to.


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