Thursday, December 24, 2015

Amsterdam Centraal Railway Station

Date: 11, 12 & 13th October 2015

When one arrives in a new city, they would be in a hazy state not being familiarized with the new situation. The same situation happened to me when we arrived in Amsterdam Centraal railway station on 11th October. What I pictured in my head was a grandeur, old looking station as I've seen a photo of this station before. From the point where we arrived till the place where we waited for a cab, I could not figured out where was that building has gone as everything that I've seen that morning has a modern features. The story behind the evolution (what I prefer to name it) is finally discovered when I did my read from the wikipedia yesterday. I copied those important facts and paste in this entry from wikipedia website for my future reference and for your knowledge too, should you too interested to know more.

The best that I captured on 12th October 2015

Station Amsterdam Centraal is the largest railway station while being a major national railway hub of Netherland. It is used by approximately 260,000 passengers daily and is the 2nd busiest railway station in Netherland after Utrecht Centraal. The train station has been recorded as the most visited national heritage site of the Netherlands. The station principal rail operator who managed a national and international railway services is NS. Amsterdam Centraal is the northern terminus of Amsterdam Metro Routes 51, 53, and 54, operated by municipal public transport operator GVB. It is also served by a number of GVB tram and ferry routes as well as local and regional bus routes operated by GVB, Connexxion and EBS. We had a chance of taking a GVB trams seated only at the station main entrance on the 12th October and please take note that you may buy tram ticket from the tram operator without a need to look for a machine outside. Remarks: International routes and intercity train is usually entered a back entrance which explains my confusion. 

The day we arrived on 11th October 2015
The day we departed from the city on 13th October 2015

The beautiful Amsterdam Centraal building was designed by the Dutch architect, Pierre Cuypers and was first opened in 1889. It features a Gothic/Renaissance Revival station building and a cast iron platform roof spanning approximately 40 metres. Since 1997, the station building, underground passages, metro station and the surrounding area have been undergoing major reconstruction and renovation works to accommodate the North-South Line metro route, which is due to open in 2017.

The architect, Pierre Cuypers is also known for his design of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam which explains the similarity of their facade design and reminded many regarding contemporaries of medieval cathedrals. While Cuypers was the principal architect, it is believed that he focused mostly on the decoration of the station building and left the structural design to railway engineers. The station was built by contractor Philipp Holzmann. The new central station replaced Amsterdam Willemspoort Station, which had to be closed down in 1878, as well as the temporary Westerdok Station that has been used from 1878 to 1889.

Snapped this photo before we boarded the canal cruise

The idea for a central station came from Johan Rudolph Thorbecke, then the Netherlands Minister of the Interior and responsible for the national railways, who, in 1884, laid two proposals before the Amsterdam municipal council. In the first proposal, the station would be situated between the Leidseplein and the Amstel River. In the other, it would be built in the open harbour front allowing for the station to be connected to the existing main lines in the area to the west and the south, but also to a projected new northern line.

The station building was completed in 1884, but the commission to the architect, Cuypers did not include the roofwork of the platforms. The roof, consisting of 50 curved trusses and a span of almost 45 meters, was designed by L.J. Eijmer, a civil engineer with the private railroad company Staatsspoorwegen. The roof was manufactured by Andrew Handyside and Company of Derby, England. Cuypers did design the decorations for the trusses and the gable ends. In October 1889, the station was officially opened, drawing a large numbers of crowds. The visitors were charged 0.25 guilders to see the magnificent station. The opening of the central station marked the city's transition from a waterfront city to an inland city, spurring further redevelopment activities in the city centre which included the realignment of streets and the filling up of canals.

In the 1950s, a pedestrian tunnel was created between the station and the road in front of it, which terminated inside the station. With the construction of the metro tunnel in the late 1970s, both the pedestrian tunnel and the road in front of the station disappeared. In the early 1980s, the central hall and middle tunnel were considerably widened and modernized. In the 1990s, a new signaling post was built on the western side of the station. In addition, the number of tracks on that side was expanded in order to increase capacity in the direction of Sloterdijk station. In 1996, a third, 'centre roof' designed by Jan Garvelink, architect at Holland Rail Consult, was built between the two existing roofs, whereby all platforms at the station were now covered.

Since 1997, the station has been continuously under construction because of the development of the North-South Line of the Amsterdam Metro, which was originally planned to be completed in 2014. Due to several setbacks, some at the Amsterdam Centraal building site, the line is now expected to open fully in 2017. Construction works at the station include a renovation of the station building, including the reconstruction of original station features which had disappeared over the years, a redevelopment of the Stationsplein (Station Square), and a new bus station on the north side of the station. In 2000, the new western passenger tunnel opened replacing the main tunnel in the centre of the station which was shut down enabling the construction of the new metro line.

In 2004, platforms 10-15 were extended to accommodate international high-speed rail services. Construction works for the bus station commenced in 2003 and were projected to be finished in 2014. It includes the construction of a fourth station roof and a station hall with space for shops and restaurants. It replaces 5 small bus stations and several isolated bus stops across the Station Island. In 2009, the partially finished bus station took into service. With all buses eventually moving to the new bus station on the north side, the Station Island should only be accessible to pedestrians, cyclists and trams. You may read a relevant entry what I wrote about taking an international train from this station, i.e. on 13th October 2015, "Train ride 2015 - Amsterdam to Hamburg".

The three passenger tunnels underneath the station were upgraded and provided with convenience stores and kiosks. In addition, two new passageways were created enabling the hosting of larger retail stores, geared towards passengers who have more time to spend at the station. The enormous size of Amsterdam Central is quite similar to the Hamburg station which I'm going to share the details of it when I begin writing about interesting places that I've covered while in Hamburg. This would be my last entry for Amsterdam, leaving 2 entries under "Food" categories that I wish to continue in future.

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