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 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.