Fyra Trains Netherlands, suspended, & banned from Belgium!Back to Forum
Anonymous20 Jan 2013
Fyra the “Hi-Speed” trains introduced from Amsterdam to Brussels (Via Schiphol & some major Dutch stations) in December 2012, have been suspended. This is due to safety concerns.
In recent days, ice forming on the front nose of the train engine, forming into blocks, has been falling away, causing damage to the undercarriage. Belgium has banned the Fyra trains from its network at this time.
NS Rail, who ordered 16 trains, have cancelled the remaining order for 7 others. Engineers are being sent by the Italian Company producing them, to look into the various safety concerns. Belgium Rail is considering cancelling the whole Fyra project. A Belgium student is taking legal action against NS, as student discounts only apply to Dutch and not Belgian students.
Seats must be booked in advance and cost more than the original services, hourly run by Dutch and Belgium Rail jointly.
Thalys runs hi-speed services already between Amsterdam – Schiphol – Rotterdam – Brussels – Paris. These must be also reserved in advance, but are reliable, inexpensive, better seating and F & B, as fast as Eurostar. They run several times a day rather than every hour, and are well established, with no technical problems.
Details have also been reported widely on Dutch and Belgian TV news. Both Parliaments are questioning the service currently.
It leaves no regular services between Amsterdam and Brussels, normally provided, prior to the confusion of Fyra being introduced in December by the National Rail Companies.
There is also mass confusion, for those travelling to / from Schiphol to Amsterdam Centraal, as you may only travel having pre-paid a supplement. This does not apply to every train, and is not notified until you are actually on the platform!20 Jan 2013
The Fyra trains that pull in and out of schiphol, are empty!
Few people will pay a supplement, or know about it.
Who can predict which train to catch from The Airport if you incoming from a flight?
The mixture of the Belgian and NS hourly service was fine before, running hourly, calling at major cities. At 20-30 Mill Euros for one train, it is a failed project. The Dutch for sure, do not like it or support it. The trains remain empty, always late, and very slow They run today with the old carriages, and an NS old locomotive, Amsterdam to Rotterdam, at a no greater speed than the NS modern trains.
I am sure the Belgian and Dutch Governments will see reality, the other new train orders already cancelled.21 Jan 2013
The news re Fyra is a shame because these trains would better utilise the high-speed line linking Brussels with Amsterdam.
This line, recently opened, cost billions of Euros to construct because it had to be routed through congested areas of Belgium and Holland.
Before Fyra came along there was only a single Thalys train every two hours which could take full advantage of the high-speed track between Brussels and Amsterdam.
So would the expenditure of billions of Euros for a two hourly train service have been a wise investment ?
Even the UK’s under-utlised high-speed line sees better use.
There are plans for through running of high-speed trains between London, Brussels and Amsterdam by both DB and Eurostar which will bring more traffic to the Belgo-Dutch line.
But as we have reported, the DB service is delayed indefinitely while the Eurostar service (assuming it goes ahead) is some years away.
In the meantime, let’s hope that Fyra sorts itself out.
By the way, Thalys trains are also suffering because of heavy snow in mainland Europe.
Right now, according to thalys.com there are significant delays of between 30 to 90 mins on Thalys trains running between Paris, Amsterdam and Cologne via Brussels.22 Jan 2013
The Fyra service has not been cancelled, nor are the orders by Dutch and Belgian operators cancelled. Currently the service is supended and the orders for additional trains are put on hold awaiting the current problems to be resolved.
At this moment out of a total order of 19 trains AnsaldoBreda, the Italian manufacturer, has delivered 9 trains to the Dutch operator NS, out of 16 ordered. None of the 3 ordered by the Belgian operator NMBS have been delivered.
Under the contract the manufacturer has to fix any reported problems within 3 months. AnsaldoBreda has indicated that between 30 and 40 engineers are currently in the Netherlands working on these problems.
NS and NMBS are heavily criticized at this moment at their inability to provide any replacement service in the mean time. Members of the Dutch paliament are looking into the procurement process.
So far very few have spoken about the project management issues such as replacing an operational system with a new one apparently without a decent fall back scenario.
You are correct that the trains have been running fairly empty, mainly due to the fact that you had to book your seat in advance. A practice not very common in Dutch or Belgian public rail transport. According to a spokesperson from NS this is due to safety considerations beacuse of the high speed these trains run at. Travellers are required to have a seat to minimize the chance of injuries when a train has to brake hard.
The plan for restoring this service seems to be to repair the trains and apply fixes to any flaws at the cost of the manufacturer. To test the trains during the night time and gradually restore the service. I fthis is going to work and within which timeframe? Nobody seems to know.
Was it wise to select AnsaldoBreda as the supplier? Probably not. It looks as if they where the cheapest from the start. Media reports show that experienced competitors with a high speed train product like Alstom of France (Thalys and TGV) or Siemens of Germany (ICE) have not even submitted an offer during the procurement process.
The Dutch parliament has announced that they will investigate this at a later stage.
From experience I know that the Dutch like to complain a lot during projects like this. It is always too late or too expensive, or even better: both. It’s in their genes.
In the end mostly they embrace it and have come up with what is a quality solution that works at a reasonable price.
I still have some hope left that sometime during the first half of this year they sort it out.22 Jan 2013
I indicated clearly that the Fyra service had been suspended.
It was reported on the Dutch News channel 1 in the NL’s, that NS had cancelled the remaining orders for 6 more trains. The CEO was interviewed on the news and confirmed this. I watched it, as did my Dutch colleagues. NS also issued a statement which was published.
The link above has expired unfortunately, but I am sure if you search the net, you will find plenty info.
The Belgium Rail Authority Operations Director, was also on the news, after the Government there have “Banned the trains from the Belgium network due to the safety concerns”. It was also stated that no delivery would be taken of any of the trains for the Belgium side.
Both Governments are debating in Parliament, and meetings between the two rail authorities are currently taking place. There are also some legal challenges as mentioned.
Even if the technical problems are fixed, Being partly in Amsterdam, I like many locals, avoid Fyra. Some trains have a supplement, others do not. You do not know as it could be the same train, a different day. Often there are 6 or more inspectors at the beginning of the platform in Amsterdam blocking access even to those of us who have the NS Chip card, for National Rail travel!
On Monday returning to London via Schiphol, I took the train, from Amsterdam Centraal, and in came “a version” Fyra train mixed of different carriages and an old NS Electric engine pulling it (as the new trains are suspended). It was 25 mins late, and it had to go out of the station, change the engine round one end to the other. It ran from AMS- Schiphol-Rotterdam.
It pulled out with not one passenger on it, i watched each and every carriage go past empty!
Unless they change this situation (You could always turn up and if a seat is available at the ticket office use the train), it will not work.
NS National Rail OV Chip cards (pre-loaded from your Dutch Bank account and topped up, also used for trams nationally) cannot be used for it, even if you pay for a supplement. A tiny minority of Dutch residents do NOT hold this card, so they cannot use the Fyra services.
These issues need to be addressed.
The brand new triple floor Dutch carriages are far better, just as speedy, have internet access, more spacious, on board security cameras. The Decor with Light wood panel flooring, grand designed glass doors, with grand Bronze Handles, and across seating downstairs, with a great deal of artwork and expense added in. they are quieter and much faster and more comfortable than Fyra.
It also does not come near The Thalys standards, on board facilities, or speed.23 Jan 2013
@amcwhirter, who wrote: “The news re Fyra is a shame because these trains would better utilise the high-speed line linking Brussels with Amsterdam.”
Perhaps I’ve misintepreted what you wrote, but if by that line you imply that Fyra does not already use the newly-built high speed line, this is incorrect. Fyra operates on the same new high-speed section (built between Schiphol and Rotterdam, thereby removing the need to pass through Leiden, Den Haag and Delft – though these trains only stopped at Den Haag out of these intermediate waypoints) that the Thalys uses. In fact, a Fyra broke down on Sunday evening and delayed a Thalys by over 3 hours.
The real disgrace in all of this (and I’m surprised it hasn’t been mentioned before in this thread) is that the venerable and much loved “Beneluxtrain” that connected Amsterdam and Brussels (calling at Schiphol, Den Haag HS, Rotterdam, Dordrecht, Roosendaal, Antwerp and Mechelen) hourly, which needed no seat reservation, and for which tickets could be bought, on the day, valid on any service, and at much cheaper prices than Fyra, was unceremoniously scrapped with the start of the new train timetable on 9 December despite many calls for it to be kept.
Particularly given the disaster that Fyra has now become, it certainly seems an incredibly stupid move – though for Fyra to have had any chance to thrive, the rail operators clearly understood that they needed to remove the Beneluxtrain as competition.
I just hope that they reinstate that service now that Fyra has shown itself not up to the task.23 Jan 2013
@MarcusUK “Unless they change this situation (You could always turn up and if a seat is available at the ticket office use the train), it will not work.
NS National Rail OV Chip cards (pre-loaded from your Dutch Bank account and topped up, also used for trams nationally) cannot be used for it, even if you pay for a supplement. A tiny minority of Dutch residents do NOT hold this card, so they cannot use the Fyra services.”
There is no longer a supplement required for taking the Fyra between Amsterdam Centraal and Schiphol in either direction. This is not just for now (during the chaos on the Fyra network), but a concession made given that the old Beneluxtrein no longer plies the route. (http://www.ns.nl/reizigers/producten/producten/losse-kaartjes#toeslag-ice-fyra)
You can therefore use an OV chipkaart that has been enabled for travel on the NS rail network on ANY train service between Amsterdam Centraal and Schiphol (except Thalys) without payment of any supplement. For those that do not have an OV chipkaart – and this includes the many tourists that travel the route – a regular paper ticket can be purchased from the machines or the ticket desks, and can be used on ANY service between Schiphol and Amsterdam Centraal (excpet Thalys) – it doesn’t matter if you travel on a Sprinter, Stoptrein, Intercity, or Fyra. The same ticket is valid on all of these services.
(Note that the Fyra will not be travelling any faster than any other type of train on the short segment between Schiphol and Amsterdam Centraal).23 Jan 2013
Thanks for all the feedback.
I am sorry if you misunderstood me. What I meant was the fact that here we have a brand new high-speed line between Brussels and Amsterdam (not all is high-speed but much of the track is now fit for 300 kph running) which, before Fyra started, was being used by only one train (a Thalys service) every 2 hours.
This line, because it passes through congested areas of Belgium and Holland, cost many billions of Euros to construct.
Here in the UK we have HS1 running between London and the Tunnel. That too is not being used to anywhere near its proper capacity but at least there are several trains an hour thanks to Eurostar and the local SE Javelin services so its costs are being covered up to a point.
By the way, I did refer to the former InterCity trains in the piece written for this website last December. Please bear in mind that I wrote the news item before Fyra started so was totally unaware that it would encounter so many technical problems.
After all, Fyra was five years late in starting so one would assume any glitches would have been sorted out.
The link was posted by SiteAdministrator above. But here it is again:
Interestingly we had the same situation in the UK when the SE Javelin Trains started running between E Kent and London St Pancras.
The existing slower, stopping trains with their cheaper fares continue to run into London Charing Cross.
But to boost Javelin’s chances of success, SE Trains slowed its older (ie the original) trains by adding more stops and so on which increased the journey time by up to 20 mins.23 Jan 2013
It seems no quick fix for Fyra.
The NS services, and Junior Minister for transport are having InterCity services returned to this line and destinations with Pro-rail being asked to “free up line space”, for these to return.
If Government order an intercity service to return by the end of January, it is doubtful given the acceptance of mistakes in Contracting, that it will return in the same form, with those trains from Italy!26 Jan 2013
New direct services (“intercity”) between Roosendaal and Antwerp have been introduced. This ends the bizarre situation whereby the affected Fyra passengers travelling between the two countries had to cross the border on stopping services (“stoptrein”) between Roosendaal and Essen/Antwerp.
The Dutch Minister for Infrastructure and the Environment said last Tuesday that they hoped to re-instate a proper intercity service between Amsterdam and Brussels “on the old track” – i.e. reinstating the Beneluxtrain. However, no more has been heard since, so it appears that the solution will be this changing twice in both Roosendaal and Antwerp.27 Jan 2013
An update for BT readers.
Also seems NS are placing the Italian manufacturers in default, and so legal action could follow. No decision has been made governmentally on the future of the service. Belgium still refuse to allow these trains to operate on their rails.7 Feb 2013