Thursday, 4 September 2008

Train Facts

Today's mail included a newsletter sent to all subscribers of a discount rail ticket scheme here in the Netherlands.

I've commented before about the extent to which cycling is integrated with public transport here in the Netherlands. This makes many journeys possible by bike / train / bike. The item on the right, taken from the newsletter, is titled "Fietsfeiten" (Bike facts) and lists the following facts about bicycles and the Dutch Railways:
  • 40% of all rail passengers (nationally) arrive at the station by bike.
  • 30% of those who cycle put their bikes in the watched cycle parking.
  • There are 200000 normal and 95000 watched cycle parking spaces at the railway stations (as there are 386 stations in the country, this is an average of about 500 normal and 250 watched spaces at each station in the country, obviously there are more spaces in towns than at country stations but all stations have some cycle parking).
  • The railway company has 17,349 cycle lockers ( an average of 45 per station).
  • 86 stations have a closed cycle park, of which 44 are automatic and the rest manned.
  • The watched parking will by 2010 open 15 minutes before the first train leaves and close 15 minutes after the last train arrives each day.
  • In the watched cycle parks, 2,285,000 day tickets, 32,000 year, 191,000 month and 35,000 week subscriptions are sold each year.
  • 20 stations have a Fietspointwinkel offering repairs, new bikes for sale and hire bikes (there is a video showing what these are like - it's a new initiative with upgraded bike shops over what already exist at most stations).
  • Public Transport-Bikes can be hired at 170 stations and there are now around 5000 Public Transport Bikes. These "Public Transport bikes" are the second rental bike scheme at most stations, and are aimed at regular commuters who need a bike each day.
  • In the NS cycle parking at Den Haag Central there are now also 6 scooters to hire.
  • Finally, look at www.nsfiets.nl for more information.

The picture on the right shows some of Assen's cycle parking.

When the photo was taken there were 750 spaces for bikes here, and more spaces on the other side of the tracks. In addition there were hundreds of spaces are in the indoor watched cycle park. This has now increased). The bicycles shop at the railway station has recently become a Fietspointwinkel (see above), and as well as being a competent cycle shop for sales and repairs, they also have normal hire bikes and OV-Fietsen.

This is quite normal for a city of this size (65000 residents). This video shows the route from the railway station platform to the cycle parking:

(note that since I wrote this piece, the cycle parking at Assen station has been doubled in size). This video has explanatory captions which are only visible if you view it on a computer and not on a mobile device.

Now a short note for those who might be considering coming here for a cycling holiday. You can take folding bikes on any train for free, but for non folders you need a pass which costs €6 per day, and you have to travel outside the peak times of 6:30 - 9:00 and 16:30 - 18:00. Commuters are encouraged to use the OV-Fiets system, which works out very much cheaper than paying for a pass every day.

Helpfully, the restriction on peak times does not apply in the "Holiday Months" of July and August when many people use the trains to take their bikes on holiday with them.

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