Brutal late rush hour anticipated in Netherlands; Planes, Trains, and Automobiles affected

Traffic builds up towards Schiphol's departures, 18 Jan 2018
Traffic builds up towards Schiphol's departures, 18 Jan 2018Photo: @KMar_PenB_SPL / Twitter

A difficult Thursday rush hour was expected to cap an annoying work day for many in the Netherlands. Trouble on the railroad, confusion at the airport, and traffic jams were likely to continue well into the evening.

Dutch rail company NS stopped all train traffic at 12:20 p.m. and the trains are still halted. ProRail is working on removing trees and branches from the tracks, cleaning up other storm debris and repairing damage. When train traffic can restart is not yet clear. "Even after the storm, time is needed to repair the severe storm damage", the rail manager said on Twitter.

Cancellations and delayed flights were still increasing at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on Thursday afternoon. Delays announced at the airport were to continue past midnight and into the first few hours of Friday morning.

There were 180 departing flights canceled at Schiphol by 2:30 p.m. Some 161 arriving flights were also scrapped, and several others were diverted to other airports at least temporarily, an audit of airport information showed.

Even though the winds were predicted to further settle down by 4 p.m., Dutch infrastructure agency Rijkswaterstaat cautioned drivers that problems on the roads would persist past evening rush. Significant storm damage was difficult to reach when the winds peaked in the west just before noon, and the gales were still heavy in the east at 2:45 p.m.

That meant the already-taxed road workers had trouble clearing debris, especially as many were dispatched to deal with over 30 overturned trucks on the motorways. Many lane closures were predicted, including the shutdown of some sections of highway.

“There are quite a few highways closed or narrowed by overturned trucks and fallen trees,” travel association ANWB said. There were still highway closures reported on the A2, A5, A6, A9, A20, and A50.

“Just like in the morning, we also expect a lot of inconvenience in the evening due to the bad weather,” traffic information firm VID stated. “Strong winds, a lot of rain and the darkness during the evening rush hour have often been a recipe for multiple accidents.”

The Amsterdam tram service is getting back on track. At 1:55 p.m. Amsterdam transport service GVB announced that tram traffic is gradually being restarted. More problems may occur, GVB warns. Travelers are advised to check the GVB website for up-to-date information.

Trams and buses in Den Haag were all still halted at 2:45 p.m. "Unfortunately the storm still does not allow us to run our trams and buses safely. As soon as we can, we will of course let you know immediately", transporter HTM said on Twitter.

Rotterdam's subways and trams kept running throughout the storm, though with several disruptions caused by fallen down trees and the weather conditions. Transporter RET reports that problems are being sorted out and some trams and subways are running according to schedule again. 

Utrecht reduced the maximum speed of its trams during the storm. Trams and buses are running in the city, though public transporter U-OV warns that delays are still possible. 


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