Monday, July 11, 2016

Maastricht, Liège, Brussels

Today I will travel around Netherlands and Belgium with starting point Amsterdam. My original plan was to include part of Germany as well, but due to major railroad works, I had to change my plans.
 I start the day of taking Intercity to Maastricht, but also in Netherlands there are railroad works, so I will have to change trains in Utrecht. Here is a view from the train between Amsterdam and Utrecht, road E35.
 VIRM double deck EMU, second floor.
 I have arrived to Utrecht, the largest and busiest station in Netherlands. It has recently been modernised in order to meet the increased amount of passengers.
 Time to fill in the Interrail diary. Even though the dutch trains does not have a restaurant coach, there is a possibility to buy a coffee from on-board sales person.
 Common sight in Netherlands
 's-Hertogenbosch station
 Arriving to Eindhoven
 Bridge over Vestdijktunnel
 Eindhoven station
 DB Class 23 steam locomotive from dutch heritage railway company Veluwsche Stoomtrein Maatschappij
 Weert station
 Roermond station
 NS Class 1600 from DB Schenker Rail Nederland
 Sittard station
 NS FLIRT based on Flirt 3 version. The train will enter the regular service at the end of 2016. NS has ordered 58 sets (33 three car and 25 four car versions).
 Stadler was able to provide a quick delivery of these trains due to expected sharp increase of passengers from January 2017.
 Stadler GTW operated by french Veolia Transdev

 Last stop for this Intercity train is Maastricht
Just like on French train stations, it is now possible to play piano at Dutch stations
 The piano is chained
 Beautiful train station of Maastricht, which i also visited last year.
 Stained glass windows at the station representing 11 provinces and contain Limburg municipality weapons.

 The old city centre - Binnenstad

 13th-century Dominican church converted into a bookstore

 Vrijthof square
 Sint Janskerk, Westwerk St-Servaasbasiliek, Basiliek van Onze-Lieve-Vrouw, Apsis en Barbaratoren
 Sint Servaasbrug
 From Maastricht I'm taking belgian Stoptrein to Liege. It is a AM 80 EMU manufactured 1980-1983.
 Railway in Netherlands has 1,5kV DC power system, while in Belgium it is 3kV DC. The railway from Maastricht to Liege is thus considered as Belgian, it is equipped with "Crocodile" train control system from Belgian border to dutch city of Randwyck. Dutch train control system ATB is missing on this route, thus Belgian trains are tolerated from Maastricht to Randwyck.
 Liège-Jonfosse station
 Liège-Palais station is where I get off. The train continues to Hasselt.
 Close to Liège-Palais station is one of the sights in city of Liège - stairs of Mount Bueren.
 The staircase has 374 steps and was built 1875-1880.

 The view from the top of the staircase. To the right is the Liège-Guillemins staion, to the left is Église du Sacré-Cœur et Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes
 A balcony from one of the houses along the stair

 Belgian beer is available in many places
 I'm now walking to Liège-Guillemins, which is the main train station in Liège
 "Dali meets Calatrava"

 The new station created by Santiago Calatrava opened 2009.

 NMBS/SNCB AM 08, aka Siemens Desiro ML. The trains are in service from 2011.
 I'm now taking Intercity service to Brussels. This train has M6 double deck coaches which are used for service Welkenraedt-Kortrijk.
 The coaches are allowed to be used on HSL2 (High Speed Line 2) between Liège-Brussels and they can reach 200km/h on the Leuven-Liége part. The success of M6 is followed up on order of M7 double deck coaches from Bombardier, they will enter the service in 2018.
 HSL2 is equipped with Belgian cabin signalling system TBL2 and unlike the French high-speed lines, access is not restricted to the TGV/ICE. HSL 2 is used by 300 km/h Thalys PBKA sets, 250 km/h ICE 3M EMUs and 200 km/h domestic InterCity services run by sets of Class 18 or Class 13.
 Arriving to Brussels nearby Schaerbeek.
 Train World in Schaerbeek
 My train has arrived to Brussels Nord, one of the three major stations in Brussels. The train on the photo is a similar one to the one I took, powered by SNCB Class 18 locomotive and carrying M6 coaches.
 Class 18 is a Siemens EuroSprinter ES60U3, and it is a derived model of "Taurus". 120 locomotives of this type were delivered between 2008-2011.
 M6 double deck coach, from 2013 certified for 200km/h.
 Class 18 locomotive with advertisement for railway related employment.
 M6 BDx driving coaches for puch pull compositions.

 AM08 Desiro ML train used both as Intercity, L-trains (Stoptrein), S-trains and P-trains (Peak hour trains).
 In the background is Église Royale Sainte-Marie
 Desiro ML is double traction.
 ICE train service Frankfurt-Brussels is arriving to Brussels Nord

 Thalys (to the left) service to Dortmund.
 Thalys service is the only train without stop at Brussels Nord.

 SNCB serie 21 locomotive from the 80's

 Desiro ML train to the right and NS International service Amsterdam-Brussels with ICR coaches.

 Traxx F140 MS (SNCB class 28) locomotive used for Intercity Brussels service.
 SNCB Class 18 with maximum speed of 200km/h
 Here is Class 18 locomotive with an I10 coach (SNCB International).
 I10 coach (first) is mixed here with I11 coaches. I10 was manufactured in the 80's, while I11 was manufactured in the 90's.
 I'm taking Intercity Brussels-Antwerpen which is operated by Desiro ML train. The trip takes only 30min.
 Some seats in Desiro ML have not view.
 I have arrived to Antwerpen Centraal, underground -2 level.
 AM96 (to the left) and AM75 (to the right), at the upper +1 level.

 New generation meets the old at Antwerpen.
 The beautiful entrance hall of Antwerpen Centraal.
 AM 08
 AM 80
 Since the terrorist attacks in France in Belgium the security level is on top.

 My final train is a Thalys to Amsterdam. Interrail travellers have to pay an extra fee for using Thalys (15€ 2nd class or 25€ 1st class). In 1st class food and drinks are included. The trip Antwerpen-Amsterdam takes 1h less with Thalys compared to Intercity service (which is on the other hand without extra fee for Interrail pass).
 Travelling first on HSL 4 and later on HSL Zuid at 300km/h.
 Arriving at Rotterdam Centraal.
At Rotterdam the train is standing still for almost 15 min due to a police action.
 I can see on Thalys webpage the latest information.
After 15 min delayed stop, the train is leaving Rotterdam.

 The view of Den Haag from HSL-Zuid high speed line.

 The train has arrived to Amsterdam Schiphol airport, where I make a short stop.

 NS Sprinter train at Schiphol
 A roof terrace in the airport demonstrates Fokker 100 plane

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