Thalys to Amsterdam is way too slow

In 1987 it was decided that a high-speed train connection between Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam and Köln would be built. Ten years later, the Thalys train already achieves a travel time of 1h25 to Paris (over 200km/h). So the Thalys is this High-Speed-Train? Well, not always, as I experienced recently. While travelling to Paris is fast enough for daily commute, the train to Amsterdam is even slower than driving.

I actually had to go to the Hilversum Mediapark, the nerve center of the Netherlands’ broadcast industry. Apparently you’re supposed to take your car there, because the only train connection from Amsterdam to it is a small stop-everywhere train that only runs twice an hour. That combined with a Thalys that only runs once per two hours, is the reason it took me almost six hours to get back to Brussels in the evening. When I had to wait for an hour and a half in the Amsterdam station, I went to the only reasonable restaurant there, and when I asked the waiter for the non-smokers zone, he frowned and said “This is a restaurant designed like a ‘grand café’, sir, smoking is just part of that”. So I had to take a table next to the toilet, to be able to enjoy my meal without disgusting smoke in my face. As you might guess, it was not the best of evenings.

I wondered if it was just an idea or if the Thalys to Amsterdam is really that slow. It actually is:
High speed train

While the Thalys to Paris reaches an average speed of 214 km/h, a speed we can safely say is improbable to do by car, travelling to Amsterdam does not even go above 80km/h. You’re even faster in London (366km), under the Channel and everything, than in Asterdam (210km). I will not be using that train again until they finally get it up to a decent speed in 2007: 1h30 from Amsterdam instead of 2h39. About bloody time.

6 thoughts on “Thalys to Amsterdam is way too slow”

  1. I have had the same experience!
    There was a time 3 years ago when I had to be in Amsterdam (actually Shcipol) every 2 or 3 weeks.

    The only choices were a 3h:45min Thalis a 4h:15min IC train or the car which could vary from anything between 2h10 to 5h30 depending on the horrible dutch traffic.

    I have to say after having driven around most countries in the EU that the dutch are probably among the worst drivers I have ever found. 😉

    Maybe one day we will be able to go from Bxl to Ams in 1h30!
    Peace
    AF

  2. Ever did it by car? On numerous occasions, Schiphol-Rijk (closer than A’dam) to Brussels cost me over 4 hours.
    Traffic in the Netherlands is just a nightmare. Then again, we all know that the Thalys is not a high speed train to Amsterdam, i.e. the train is, but the tracks aren’t finished yet 😉

  3. @Pascal: the Thalys reservation you have can only be transfered to a next Thalys train 2 hours later. For the other train you need to buy a new ticket.

  4. I recently travelled to A’dam as well, and decided for the ‘normal’ Intercity service – one per hour and just a few minutes slower than the Thalys – a choice even the ticket seller in Brussels Central recommended as being the best one, since it is a lot cheaper.
    On the other hand, I once drove to A’dam with a few colleagues a few years ago, and this is still much slower than by train due to constant traffic jams in Holland and on the highway north of Antwerp.

  5. I see that in November 2006 Peter was looking forward to a faster service in 2007. It’s now November 2007 and I just clicked his link (above). It now promises that faster service (90 minutes between Brussels and Amsterdam) for 2008! So it’s always due next year …

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