Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Hey! Which Way to Cross the IJ, Eh?

Let's Start at Newcastle upon Tyne

From only £3.80 per person each way, you can ride the DFDS Seaways Bus from Newcastle Bewick Street (opposite Central Station) to the International Ferry Terminal (and back). The easy way to get to your cruise ferry.

There are two DFDS Seaways bus departures for each sailing; the first one leaves at 14:45 and the second leaves at 15:45, 1 hour 15 minutes before departure. Book in advance or pay the driver when you board.
And your cruise? It takes you overnight, from South Sheilds (sometimes called Newcastle-upon-Tyne) ...

... seven days a week to IJmuiden, sometimes (a bit like airports served by low-cost airlines) called Amsterdam.

Our Amsterdam mini cruise is our most popular break and it’s not hard to see why. You get 2 nights onboard one of our cruise ferries​ and the best part of the day to explore Amsterdam – a perfect combination.

2 nights onboard in an en suite cabin
Coach transfers to & from Amsterdam
Up to 5 hours in Amsterdam
Free live entertainment onboard​​​​​​

Two sleepless overnights for 5 hours in Amsterdam? Not for fbb! But between IJmuidin and Amsterdam runs the North Sea Canal.

It is s a Dutch ship canal from the North Sea at IJmuiden to Amsterdam, constructed between 1865 and 1876 to enable seafaring vessels to reach the port of Amsterdam. This man-made channel terminates in the closed-off IJ Bay, which in turn connects to the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal. The drainage of the canal to the North Sea is done through the Spui Locks at IJmuiden ...

... augmented by the largest pumping station in Europe. This system is vital to the groundwater management of the Western Netherlands.

A short distance inland from IJmuiden is Velsen ...

... split into Velsen-Zuid and Velsen-Noord via the Canal. Here we will find two tunnels and a ferry.

The Velsen Tunnel opened in 1955 with a parade of cars old (and for 1955) new.
Nearby is the Velsen Car Ferry of a similar design to several others as you sail "upsteam" (?) to Amsterdam.
The newer Tunnel carries the A9 motorway
De Wijkertunnel is een tunnel onder het Noordzeekanaal. De verkeerstunnel bevindt zich in de A9. Hij werd tussen 1993 en 1996 gebouwd om de Noord-Hollandse Velsertunnel te ontlasten, waar de A9 tot de opening van de Wijkertunnel door liep. De A9 is hiermee ook een stuk korter geworden. Voor het bestemmingsverkeer rond IJmuiden en Beverwijk is de oude A9 (hernoemd in A22) nog te gebruiken. Deze snelweg loopt nog steeds door de Velsertunnel.

So now you know!

Next en route to the capital is the Spaarndam ferry, complete with a splendid wind turbine.
Then, we are in Amsterdam's docklands and another car ferry, the Hempontplein.
Note the electronic time display in the centre; these are ferries as modern in operation as any tram, train or guided bus.

A tunnel next, part of the Amsterdam equivalent of the M25.
Road tunnels on the A10 "ring" motorway link north and south Amsterdam.

But, possibly more fascinating is the collection of passengers ferries running between Amsterdam and North Amsterdam.
They leave from Westerdooksdijk and from the waterside side of Centraal Station.
They are always busy and very popular. Full timetables are published.
The "green route" runs every FOUR minutes! The NDSM ferry ...
...is as infrequent as every 30 minutes.


The former NDSM (a ship-building company) Amsterdam ship wharf is a stunning hangout. Just 10 minutes by ferry and a large area is there to explore. Restaurants, bars, terraces, skatepark, new and old architecture, all with the amazing view onf the IJ-waters. Many of the old buildings that were in use for the making of large ships are still there, housing creative enterprises.

So trendy arty stuff ...
... or just plain weird!

This blog has only been a taster of the variety of IJ crossings (extending along the North Sea Canal). Fascinating and well worth further study.

But, fbb, you haven't told is about tolls and fares.

That is because there aren't any. All the tunnels are free and ALL THE FERRIES ARE FREE for foot passengers; which might explain why they are so popular. On the car ferries, your motor will go for €1.20.

And fbb hasn't told you about the "Flying Ferry", a hydrofoil service between Velsen and Amsterdam ...
... because it ceased running in 2014. Pity, that would have been extra specially special. So to conclude this blog, enjoy a ride on the Hempont Ferry and watch the Connexxions hydrofoil whizz past.

fbb last visited Amsterdam in 1959 with hs father who was on a business trip. He was there for one night and can only vaguely remember a ride from the hotel by taxi to Centraal Station. Of course much of this infrastructure had not been built then or was much more primitive.

But there were oodles of trams. And there still are.

 Next tram blog : Wednesday 13th April 


  1. Boat goes from North Shields, not South. It would need another tunnel or bridge to get to the latter

  2. Thanks anon - a slip of the brain!

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