Friday, 15 April 2016

A Minor Metro Mystery

Confusing the Old Man!
Here is a picture of a route 51 Metro train at Overamstel station in the southern district of Amsterdam.
And here is a picture of a route 51 metro train running on reserved track alongside Beneluxlann (Belelux Avenue).
Alternatively, here is a picture of a route 51 Metro train at Oranjebann station.
But what is this? A picture of a route 5 TRAM at Oranjebann station!
And, to add to the fun, a picture of route 5 trams at their southern terminus, Amstelveen Stadshart.
 Well, there is definitely third rail electric at Overamstel ...
... high platforms at Oranjebann ...
 ... and low pavement level access at the route 5 tram terminus! At Centraal Station you board from the roadway ...
... just ambling unconcernedly amongst moving trams. Think what horrors would burst into the minds of UK's Health and Safety loonies if this were common here.

But an explanation is in order.
The city of Amsterdam decided on the construction of a metro system in 1968. Under the original plan, four lines were to be built, connecting the entire city and replacing many of the existing tram lines. The following lines were planned: an east-west line from the southeast to the Osdorp district via Amsterdam Centraal railway station ( yellow ); a circle line from the western harbor area to the suburban town of Diemen ( green ); a north-south line from the northern district via Amsterdam Centraal to Weteringplantsoen traffic circle, with two branches at both ends ( blue ); and a second east-west line from Geuzenveld district to Gaasperplas( red ). The system would be constructed gradually and was expected to be completed by the end of the 1990s.

It didn't quite happen like that. There were vehement protests at the possible loss of traditional tramways and, of course, the inevitable financial reviews. The present network has part of the 1968 plan still recognisable.
The  yellow (54)  line goes no further than Centraal Station.

The  red (53)  joins it.

A third route  orange (51)  uses the same tracks, turning right to Amsterdam Zuid station and then south the Amstelveen.

The circular route  green (50)  only circles part way before joining the 54 to the south east.

A remnant of the  blue (52)  north south service will be opened in 2017.
Which brings is back to our mysterious friend, Metro 51 in a fruity orange colour on the maps but with a colour coded route box in the destination screens ...
... just like a tram.

And that's the answer. For political reasons, all about not getting rid of trams, the 51 Metro (with third rail pick up) gets to Amsterdam Zuid station ...
... where it changes to pantograph pick-up, drops down to road level and, effectively becomes tram 51 running with tram 5 for a while. The stations have double-height platforms; low for tram 5 and high for tram/metro 51. This little video clip shows a new-ish tram on line 5 passing the high platform and stopping at the tram level bit.
Line 51 is sometimes referred to as the Sneltram, the fast tram.

Usually the tram and Metro system functions like clockwork; but occasionally there is the odd prang. Here a Metro 51 collided with a tram 5.
But it is the headline that fbb liked. The chubby one struggles with understanding written Dutch and finds the spoken tongue impossible. But you would never mistake this headline.

 Sneltram botst op tram 5 
         vier gewonden         

Not a good idea for one tram to botst op another. But none of the vier was seriously gewonden.

 Next blog : Saturday 16th April 


  1. Andrew Kleissner15 April 2016 at 08:20

    Of course both Metro and mainline services operate on the South Shields line of the Tyne and Wear Metro - I think though they both use full height platforms (and the National Rail lines aren't electrified).

    The Great Northern electrics out of Moorgate change from third-rail DC to OLE AC at Drayton Par (and have for many years); similarly North London line trains used to swap over at Willesden Junction (perhaps they still do). Quite a number of British trains have dual voltage/pick-up systems (including Eurostar!) but in many cases it has been removed or is not used.

    Tram/train running will begin between Sheffield and Rotherham next year. In this case though the units will only pick up from the OLE although they will be dual-voltage.

  2. Traction changeovers have been happening for years on Thameslink trains at Faringdon. As I understand it, third rail collector shoes are always considered to be 'live', even when the train is operating on the overhead power. For this reason, trains/trams with third rail collector shoes are never allowed on street sections of route, where passengers intermingle freely.

    Only this week, an accident inquiry report was published involving a tram in Manchester hitting a pedestrian, who had alighted from the tram and was walking along the tracks in the street. See