Automated trains could make 30 hourly trips between Amsterdam and Schiphol

Train passengers looking for the next train to Schiphol airport at Amsterdam Centraal, 28 March 2019
Train passengers looking for the next train to Schiphol airport at Amsterdam Centraal, 28 March 2019Photo: NL Times

ProRail wants to run automated light rail trains between Schiphol and Amsterdam with extreme high frequencies - 30 times per hour. To achieve that, railways need to be cleared for this type of train. ProRail director Pier Eringa believes that these automated trains, which he compares to a city rail line like the S-Bahn in Berlin, will be needed to accommodate the increase in passengers between the Netherlands' capital and its main airport, Het Parool reports.

This will require major adjustments to the train tracks. Currently all tracks in the Netherlands have the same infrastructure systems, so that all types of trains can use them. "One size fits all. That is expensive, laborious and inefficient", Eringa said. Slow-moving sprinters now often hold up faster intercity trains, and more security is needed to make sure all types of trains can run safely. 

ProRail therefore wants separate various sections of the railways, in order to be better able to respond to the traveler's needs, Eringa said. "This makes it possible to develop fast trains, international trains and S-Bahn-like trains on existing tracks independently of each other." 

The light rail trains form part of ProRail's broader package of measures to prepare the Dutch railway for the future. The expectation is that the number of train passengers will grow by between 30 and 40 percent in the next decade, with the Randstad area facing up to 60 percent growth. In order to cope with this, ProRail thinks it necessary to put more tension on overhead lines, implement a new security system, and use self-driving trains. 

According to Eringa, it is necessary to start adjusting the railway faster than expected. "Where we assumed 2040, the adjustments must already have been made ten years earlier. We think that it's possible, but after 2030 we will have to be more innovative." Separating the tracks into different sections must be part of that innovation, as is using trains that run automatically, he thinks. According to ProRail, "reducing human activity" will result in trains running more punctually, more evenly and more comfortably. Eringa wants to run automated light rail trains between Schiphol and Amsterdam by as early as 2030.

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