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Amsterdam opens North-South Metro line 52 – Noord/Zuidlijn

Amsterdam Metro 52

Amsterdam’s long-delayed, problem-plagued new North-South metro line — the Noord/Zuidlijn — officially opened July 21, 2018.

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People who, for one reason or another, wish to travel from the Northernmost station at the Boven ‘t Y Shopping Center to the Zuidas business district, will be able to do so in 15 minutes.

The Noord/Zuidlijn is only 9,7 kilometers (9.3 miles) long, of which 7,1 kilometers (4.4 miles) underground.

Initially the costs for the new line were estimated at 681,000,000 million euro (at the time, 1.5 billion guilders). In the end, the project cost 3.1 billion euros. That works out to some 3500 euro per Amsterdammer.

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Amsterdam Public Transportation Rail Map 2018. Click to download the full map as a PDF (2mb)

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Major changes in Amsterdam’s public transport system

The new line, Metro 52, is accompanied by a host of drastic changes to Amsterdam’s public transportation network. Those of you who are still using old tourist guide books and maps can toss them out now.

The city’s tram and bus network has been overhauled to ‘encourage’ travelers to use the new line. The familiar ‘spiderweb’ model has been replaced by a fish-bone model.

GVB, the city’s municipal transport service,1 admits that many people will have to transfer more often in order to reach their usual destinations. However, the GVB also claims that most people will nevertheless reach their destinations faster than before.

Meanwhile many Amsterdammers (ourselves included) belief we are merely being ‘forced’ to use the new subway line so that the city can ‘justify’ the project’s enormous cost overruns.

Amsterdam metro station Noorderpark

Metro line 52 — the Noord/Zuidlijn — enters the Noorderpark station in Amsterdam Noord

Costs

The Noord/Zuidlijn project, for which planning started in 1996, was originally scheduled to be completed by 2007, at a cost of 681,000,000 million euro (at the time, 1.5 billion guilders).

A series of mistakes and other setbacks — including a faulty tender process, administrative problems, and shoddy construction work, and the subsiding of historical monuments — has repeatedly led to later opening dates and skyrocketing costs.

By the time the new subway line officially opened, in July 2018, the costs will have exceeded 3.1 billion euro.

After a series of setbacks, in June 2009 a special committee concluded that the project should go ahead as planned, as stopping it would cost more than finishing it.

A second committee in December, 2009, slammed the City of Amsterdam saying that the municipality should never have approved the project.

Forecasted number of passengers

When the city of Amsterdam approached the Federal Government in The Hague for financial aid toward the development of the new metro line, it optimistically forecast that the Noord/Zuidlijn would be used by 200.000 passengers a day. That number helped secure financial aid.

Later the forecast was adjusted several times, and currently the municipality expects that 121.000 passengers will use the new subway line. That is 39.5% fewer passengers than initially suggested. Guido Bruggeman, an independent urban transport consultant, believes even fewer passengers will actually use the Noord/Zuidlijn.

He has claimed that the bus and tram network in Amsterdam is being trimmed to prevent the costly North/South line from having too few passengers.

Amsterdam’s public transport system: from Spiderweb to Fishbone

Indeed, the GVB is introducing drastic changes. On July 22, 2018, the current ‘spiderweb’ network of trams and buses will transform into a ‘fishbone’ model instead, with the ‘bones’ (the bus and tramlines) feeding the ‘backbone’ (the new metro line).

The GVB is trying to put a good face on it. While admitting that most people will have to make more transfers in order to go from A to B, GVB claims that overall they will get to their destinations faster. Time will tell, but nobody here is holding his or her breath.

Writer/Director S.G. Collins puts into words what many Amsterdammers think about the situation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qg5XTl-qlb0
Video: ‘Service cutbacks disguised as progress!’ Collins mouths off about the new public transit plan for Amsterdam.

Notes:

  1. The Gemeentelijk Vervoersbedrijf (GVB) is the primary municipal transport service of Amsterdam. It is a independent corporation wholly owned by the city of Amsterdam. All trams and most buses you see in Amsterdam are owned and operated by GVB.
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This post was last updated: Aug. 2, 2018