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High-speed train service Fyra problems 'due to political choices'

Monday 21 January 2013


The problems with the Fyra high-speed train service from Amsterdam to Brussels are as much to do with politicians as with the train manufacturer and railway operators, according to the main Dutch railway union chief.

Roel Berghuis of union FNV Spoor says the problems with the Fyra service go 'well beyond the teething problems when a new train is brought in'.

Fyra services have now been suspended after three trains were damaged by snow and ice last week. The new service started in December, replacing slower intercity trains, but has been beset by delays and breakdowns since then.

On Friday Belgium said it would not allow Fyra trains to use its railway tracks until all the problems had been ironed out.


Berghuis told news agency ANP on Monday the Dutch and Belgian government made a number of mistakes when developing the high-speed service. For example, price was the only criterium used in assessing tenders to supply the trains.

This led to the choice of Italian factory AnsaldoBreda, which had no previous experience in high-speed train construction.

The trains have also been hit by problems with the infrastructure, such as broken cables and point failures.


Meanwhile, a spokesman for Dutch rail company NS told Radio 1 plans are under way to bring back intercity services between the two capitals.

'We want a structural solution until Fyra is up to scratch,' the spokesman said. The NS has now asked rail operator ProRail to free up track space for intercity trains.

Junior transport minister Wilma Mansveld said at the weekend she wanted to see an alternative train service to Fyra by the end of the month.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

Please bring back real "Public" transport for public. Train service is not a toy for politician.
We don't care political aspect, we care punctuality.

By tom | 21 January 2013 4:18 PM

Complete incompetence!!!

By larry | 21 January 2013 5:00 PM

Let us hope that they'll keep the original Intercity service running. The Frya ticketing is overpriced, inflexible and inconvenient to purchase. Additionally, they get a lot of marketing and tracking data for free. They should pay us for the last two points.

By si | 21 January 2013 5:50 PM

Can't the Thalys service take over Amsterdam-Brussels? They have been running this service on the same tracks since years (as part of the Amsterdam-Paris connection) and have been doing this reasonably well. They "just" need to buy some extra trains.

By Hans | 21 January 2013 7:33 PM

Steam train anyone? ;)

By The visitor | 21 January 2013 8:31 PM

Like most public tenders for a new project, price seems to be 99% of the decision. Price is important, of course, but should not be so heavily weighted in the decision. Here we have a train manufacturer who has never built hi-speed trains. They can can underbid the more experienced vendors (who may have more insight into real costs and issues) and deal with issues after the fact. The point is, the won the business. What is it wisdom says? Better to ask for forgiveness than permission? I disagree when it comes to our trains. They simply need to work.

By Rick Kane | 21 January 2013 8:46 PM

Name and shame time. Those individuals who were involved in this scandal using public money should be named. This smells of incompetence linked to corruption and bribery at the highest level.
These officials shuld now be suspended from their jobs together with all pension rights and be prosecuted accordingly.

By notnef | 21 January 2013 11:26 PM

Fyra is just the name of the service operated by NS (HiSpeed) and its Belgian counterpart NMBS/SNCB .

It is amazing that the NS will give such an assignment to a company that has never built a high speed train... What about (passenger) safety testing and records?
Of course the NS now is seeking for compensation for damages from AnsaldoBreada. What is even more ironic is that this train is colloquially known as ...Albatross!

By The Greek | 22 January 2013 3:56 AM

just a bit embarrassing huh ;) ?
Rick, good comment, I agree.

By Z | 22 January 2013 7:26 AM

This is exactly the point that disproves Aynn Rand's theories on privatization: Some things are too important to be entrusted to capitalism and market forces. Utilities, public transportation, security and defence, and banking, to name a few.

By Pannekoek | 22 January 2013 8:05 AM

The Hague cut off, Amsterdam and The Hague almost an hour apart, cancelations and delays are the norm... Political choices? This is just pure incompetence!

By Phantom | 22 January 2013 8:50 AM

While visiting the Netherlands last Autumn, my wife and I decided to take a day trip to Antwerp for a bit of site seeing. We booked on a Thalys hi-speed train. What a wonderful experience; one hour and eighteen minutes, and right on time. I wish we had this kind of service in Canada.

By andrew b. dikens | 22 January 2013 9:04 AM

@Hans: for Thalys to buy new trains it would take at least 2 years.

By A.L. | 22 January 2013 12:24 PM

Bring back the intercity service, the FYRA is not a a replacement service. With the intercity service trains used to run every 30 mins from The Hague to Brussels - no booking or advance ticket required. For the FYRA advance booking is the only option - not an option for the commuter. Since the service intercity stopped travel to Brussels involves changing to a Stop train between Roosendaal and Antwerp making a journey time of over two and half hours.

By Mike | 22 January 2013 3:57 PM

@Mike: you are surely wrong. Trains to Bruxelles run every hour, not every 30 minutes. Moreover, the HSL is a nice shortcut, travel times from Rotterdam to Bruxelles were reduced by 47 min, travel times from Amsterdam were reduced by 59min (over 4 hours). That is A LOT of a reduction. People from Den Haag might change in Rotterdam, which has a brand new station almost complete. If you commutes, just buy single tickets for a whole month! Simple. And have a seat GUARANTEED, ALWAYS (so you NEVER travel standing)

Of course the trains must be in good condition to operate for that to happen

By A.L. | 23 January 2013 4:18 AM

It's not completely true that AnsaldoBreda has no experience in high speed trains. They actually build also the high speed trains for Italy where they never had such problems and the service is actually pretty good.

By Dave | 23 January 2013 6:09 PM

Would like to have the IC back. It was every hour flexible, you bought a ticket and could take any train so if you missed one you just take the next. The Fyra was expensive and the options were too few.

By Sunny | 4 February 2013 6:10 PM

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