2024-01-27 To the North East

Being in the last days of my working life, and therefore in the last days of my free travel railway card, I thought I'd better make good use of it while it lasts. I visited Groningen as far back as in 2001 and decided to come back but never got round to it. So that was the first destination on my list.
2024-01-27 06.51.27  -->  I set off early. NL Map  -->  ...because I had a long way to go 2024-01-27 06.51.32  -->  Certainly not the best quality but in that sense almost artistic: a Stadler GTW of Qbuzz approaching Sliedrecht 2024-01-27 07.39.17  -->  Which took me to Geldermalsen. At the far left the GTW is still visible before its return trip to Dordrecht. The morning quiet is disturbed by the rumbling of the coal train headed bij a Railpool TRAXX (if I remember correctly)
2024-01-27 07.39.29  -->  A new day is dawning over Geldermalsen. It makes me a bit melancholic that my working life is to end soon. Retiring has its advantages and I am certainly looking forward to a new period in my life but putting an end to my working life after 44 years and having known so many beautiful moments and still loving the work I do makes me, well... a bit sad. 2024-01-27 07.39.42  --> 2024-01-27 07.40.00  -->  After all those years I still appreciate Geldermalsen's beautiful station building. I must have passed here around 8000-9000 times during my entire career. 2024-01-27 07.43.00  -->  An SLT will take me to Utrecht
2024-01-27 07.52.15  -->  Passing the Waal at Culemborg 2024-01-27 08.12.06  -->  Utrecht Centraal is a tasteless modern nothing, like a dying jellyfish on the beach. It only sports a ginormous hall, but has no station building. A headless monster. 2024-01-27 08.12.14  --> 2024-01-27 08.12.35  -->  My ICM waiting. It will take to Leeuwarden without changing trains
2024-01-27 08.13.00  -->  The office building where I spent the second half of my working life 2024-01-27 08.13.30  -->  Coupling up. 2024-01-27 08.13.37  -->  The ICMs are soon to leave active service. Being built from 1983-1994 they are now approaching their economical life span, their retirement only  awaiting the arrival of the ICNG, which has been severely delayed. 2024-01-27 08.21.28  -->
2024-01-27 08.21.56  -->  ICM is one the most luxurious train classes in the Netherlands. I consider them the best class NS ever had, and I still enjoy them every time I travel in them. I hate to see them go. 2024-01-27 08.22.10  --> 2024-01-27 08.42.13  --> 2024-01-27 09.05.06  -->  Passing the IJssel near Zwolle
2024-01-27 09.59.38  -->  Somehwere in Friesland, shortly before Leeuwarden DSC01876  -->  Arrival at Leeuwarden, capital of the Friesland province. DSC01879  --> DSC01880  -->  My two ICMs basking in the early morning sun. Despite appearances it was cold, with temperatures just below zero and a good deal of wind.
DSC01881  --> DSC01882  --> DSC01883  -->  I love repeating patterns and station canopies offer them more often than not. DSC01903  -->
DSC01886  --> DSC01901  -->  "Modernised with pride" (from a time when pride meant something completely different). When I worked at the Haarlem refurbishment and overhaul plant this modernisation was nearing its completion. NedTrain as a working company of NS has since vanished. DSC01887  -->  Leeuwarden is home to a private TOC (Train Operating Company) Arriva, which oprates the lines Leeuwarden-Groningen, Leeuwarden- Stavoren, Leeuwarden-Harlingen as well as Groning-Roodeschool and Groningen-Delfzijl. The fleet consists mainly of Stadler FLIRTs supplemented with the older Stadler GTWs DSC01888  -->
DSC01889  --> DSC01890  --> DSC01891  -->  The arriva service to Harlingen leaving Leeuwarden DSC01893  -->
DSC01895  -->  A GTW trying to hide behind a catenary pole. DSC01896  --> DSC01897  -->  The NS rolling stock form a stark contrast to the cleanliness of the Arriva-trains DSC01898  -->  Even the brand new SNG are not up to par.
DSC01904  -->  I returned from the platfom to have a look in the station hall and building. DSC01905  -->  Well that looks good. I knew nothing of Leeuwarden, but it turns out to be a standard state architecture building. In the 1870s the Dutch State Railways designed standard station buildings to speed up construction. There were four classes that all sported the same design elements. A first class was for the largest stations only and was effectively a free design, but the classes 2 to 5 were standardised. Leeuwarden is of the third class. Nine stations of the third class were built of which five are still in existance. DSC01906  --> DSC01907  -->
2024-01-27 10.39.15  --> DSC01908  --> DSC01909  --> DSC01910  -->
DSC01911  --> DSC01913  --> DSC01914  -->  War memorial for railway staff members that died in active service DSC01915  -->
DSC01916  --> 2024-01-27 10.31.50b  -->  I never had an idea of Leeuwarden station so this hall did not fail to impress me. Leeuwarden was built in 1863. 2024-01-27 10.31.59  --> 2024-01-27 10.32.14  -->
2024-01-27 10.32.27  --> DSC01917  --> DSC01918  --> DSC01919  -->
DSC01922  --> DSC01923  -->  Typical for the Staatsspoor architecture are the romanesque arched windows, and the central station building with wings, either one or two, depending on the station class. DSC01924  --> DSC01925  -->
DSC01927  -->  The ubiquitous flying wheel as a symbol of the railways DSC01930  --> DSC01931  --> DSC01932  -->
2024-01-27 11.37.52b  -->  This railway map dates from between 1888 and 1919. The yellow arrow tells you where I am. DSC01933  -->  Making my way to the Arriva train that wil take me to Groningen DSC01934  -->  My train to Leeuwarden DSC01935  -->  Boarding
DSC01938  -->  In Leeuwarden the sun was on the wrong side of the train and I had no time to spare to walk around, so it was not until arrival in Groningen that I was able to take a decent photo of the train I travelled in, a Stadler GTW. An outdated design by now but certainly clean and kept in good order both externally as internally. A diesel by the way, as the Leeuwarden-Groningen line is still not electrified. The line dates from 1866. DSC01939  --> DSC01940  --> DSC01941  -->
DSC01943  -->  The station of Groningen was a disappointment for me. Admittedly it is one of the most beautiful station buildings in the country but he whole station is currently undergoing reconstruction. The whole old canopy has been demolished. The signal box is one of the few remains. DSC01946  -->  And most of the station was a deep hole and the station building itself was largely hidden by scaffolding. DSC01950  --> DSC01953  -->  Two SNG waiting for things to come
2024-01-27 11.38.52  -->  The station main building is simply impressive. In the early 2000s alle modernisations and "improvements" had been undone and the great hall was restored to its former glory. 2024-01-27 11.39.16  --> 2024-01-27 11.39.23  --> DSC01957  -->
DSC01959  --> DSC01960  --> DSC01962  --> DSC01964  -->
DSC01966  --> DSC01967  --> DSC01969  --> DSC01970  -->
DSC01971  --> DSC01972  --> DSC01973  --> DSC01974  -->
DSC01975  -->  The exterior in all its splendor is a bit forlorn in the midst of the modernisties in front of it DSC01977  --> DSC01978  --> DSC01979  -->
DSC01980  --> DSC01981  --> DSC01983  -->  Waiting room 3d class DSC01985  -->
DSC01986  --> DSC01987  --> DSC01989  --> DSC01991  -->
2024-01-27 12.17.05  -->  I walked the city. It is certainly a beautiful city and well worth a visit. If you come to the Netherlands, of course visit Amsterdam, but do not skip Groningen. I lunched in De Drie Gezusters (The Thee Sisters), very much recommended 2024-01-27 13.52.53  -->  The Martinikerk (St Martin church) 2024-01-27 13.19.15  -->  Later I climbed the bell tower 2024-01-27 13.19.53  -->  View down through the floor
2024-01-27 13.21.17  --> 2024-01-27 13.22.17  --> 2024-01-27 13.23.31  --> 2024-01-27 13.25.45  -->
2024-01-27 13.26.04  --> 2024-01-27 13.26.13  --> 2024-01-27 13.26.21  --> 2024-01-27 13.26.35  -->
2024-01-27 13.26.42  -->  At 13:30 the bell actually rang, signifying the half hour. Everybody jumped a meter!! 2024-01-27 13.27.21  --> 2024-01-27 13.29.42  --> 2024-01-27 13.39.11  -->
2024-01-27 13.40.55  --> DSC01993  -->  After an extensive city walk I returned to the station to catch my train home. 2024-01-27 14.48.16  -->  ....and was warmly welcomed! DSC01995  -->
2024-01-27 15.05.51  -->  The two ICM's that would take me to Rotterdam DSC01999  --> DSC02000  --> DSC02002  -->
DSC02003  --> 2024-01-27 16.21.07  -->  Passing Zwolle, part of the former NS depot 2024-01-27 16.22.18  -->  Passing a new ICNG 2024-01-27 16.22.57  -->  and passing the IJssel again
2024-01-27 16.23.04  --> 2024-01-27 16.23.07  --> 2024-01-27 17.57.43  -->  Bye bye ICM, maybe this was the last trip I made in you! 2024-01-27 18.00.34  -->  The ICM seems be crying over its impending scrapping, but that's the way how things go
DSC02006  --> DSC02008  --> 2024-01-27 18.01.37  --> 2024-01-27 18.13.16  -->  Another class that is to be relieved from its duties by the ICNG, the temporary international train to Brussels
2024-01-27 18.13.24  -->  On the other end there is a similar locomotive. This pair have the cars sandwiched between them and forma good push-pull set between Amsterdam and Brussels. DSC02011  -->  The ICM's successor, the ICNG with all its teething troubles 2024-01-27 17.59.42  -->  But a nice design it is! I am proud to have worked on this train! DSC02010  -->
DSC02017  --> 2024-01-27 18.35.13  -->  Well, that was a nice day out. A first of a few more trips that I intend to do