Meetings in Rotterdam today, since I’m sans-auto it was a good chance to try out the new train pass and make the appointments by rail and public transport.
Journey planning starts with the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) Rail website, determining the best way to get from Maastricht up to Rotterdam (a two-hour car drive). The query engine is straightforward but was broken this morning, returning “No route found” to all proposals. No matter, there are only two main rail junctions to the north, and the information kiosk at the main station confirmed one change at Eindhoven. They said the train left at 8:37, and it was already 8:33, so I did a (slow) sprint over to Track 3, only to find an empty train that didn’t leave until 8:54.
Launch errors aside, I enjoy taking the blue and yellow Dutch trains. The Sneltreins and InterCity coaches run fast and on-time, and the connections are always impressively coordinated. I generally find that I only need to walk across the platform to find the next train waiting for me. The trains are quiet (electric) and smooth, so I catch up on writing, typing, or reading with little difficulty. The cabins are clean and moderately full of students and older commuters, surging on and off at major stops. The round-trip fare, 25 euro at 40% discount, was reasonable considering the total four-hour trip out and back. The discount is supposedly good Off-Peak hours only, but nobody has been able to tell me what that includes yet. The platform helpers tell me that there are no “peak hours” in summer, but that almost every weekday minutes is a peak hour in winter. I’ll find out soon.
Once I arrived at Rotterdam Centraal, the next jump was to Erasmus MC. Not physically far on a map, but there are a bewildering number of options to get to the institution. Metro, tram, bus, are all outlined on the Rotterdamse Elektrische Tram (RET) website.
Local transit uses strippenkarten for access, but they are encouraging use of the new OV-chipkaart. I got a yellow OV-Kaart from NS, but it didn’t look like the blue RET-style one that I needed. Further, it turned out that my Maastricht strippenkart wasn’t transferable to Rotterdam’s local system. Although tram 8 looked like the best bet, I arrived in the city center with only ten minutes to spare before the scheduled meeting and I could have spent an hour figuring out the last bit. So, regretfully I cheated and flagged a taxi for the last leg (10 euro).
Nonetheless, an encouraging trip, and it will get better with practice. And I managed to stay on the correct side of the train-split in Sittard, avoiding the side trip to Heerlen. ‘A good day, overall.