Amsterdam to Berlin train will be 30 minutes faster by December 2023
A series of adjustments and investments will cut 30 minutes off the Intercity train route between Amsterdam and Berlin by December 2023. That will bring the travel time in either direction down to less than six hours, said the country’s railroad infrastructure firm, ProRail.
“The 2024 timetable, with this reduced travel time, will take effect on 10 December 2023. The journey between Amsterdam and Berlin will then take 5 hours and 50 minutes,” ProRail stated. The improvement effectively cuts the travel time by 8 percent, and adds more space to the timetable for additional passenger and freight trains.
The NS first announced the idea in August 2020, with a commitment to improve the Intercity Berlin service by the beginning of 2024. A year later, the Cabinet said the project was at risk of stalling. The plan is now back on track, ProRail said, but several improvements will be needed over the next 15 months to make the time-saving plan a reality for the Intercity Berlin.
The first is a new section of track and an additional temporary platform at the station in Oldenzaal, Overijssel, which is due east of Amsterdam near the German border. The additions will allow the regional trains to turn out of the way, giving the Intercity Berlin space to zip past the station at a higher rate of speed on a through track. The new platform will be on the north side of Oldenzaal station, near the bus stop. Construction will begin in about a year, ProRail said.
To prepare for the faster connection, German rail operator Deutsche Bahn ordered new locomotives and carriages that can operate in both the Netherlands and Germany, where the railroads use different voltages. This means that the trains can continue without requiring a locomotive change at Bad Bentheim in Germany, but the delivery of the trains was delayed.
To make up for the problem, the Dutch railway’s NS International unit will rent locomotives that work both on the 1,500 volt Dutch system and the 15,000 volt German system.
For now, the section of the route from Amsterdam to Deventer will continue at a limit of 100 kilometers per hour because of the quality of the soil underneath. Trains should still be able to run at 130 km/h from Deventer to Oldenzaal, but with an increase in the frequency of trains and their mass, the ground will be monitored for safety issues.
“More permanent measures are needed for the future, partly due to growing freight and passenger transport. ProRail is conducting research into more future-proof measures,” ProRail said.
In addition to ProRail, NS, and Deutsche Bahn, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, German government officials, and infrastructure partners cooperated to make the faster train connection possible.