|• Land||8,287 km2 (3,200 sq mi)|
|• Urban||4,300 km2 (1,700 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||69 m (226 ft)|
|Lowest elevation||-6.76 m (−22.18 ft)|
|• Urban density||1,500/km2 (4,000/sq mi)|
|Demonym||Randstedeling (inhabitant), Randstedelijk (adjective)|
The Randstad (Dutch: Randstad, pronounced [ˈrɑntstɑt]) is a conurbation in the Netherlands. It consists of the four largest Dutch cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht), and the surrounding areas. With a population of 7,100,000 it is one of the largest conurbations in Europe,[b] comparable in size to Milan or the San Francisco Bay Area and covers an area of approximately 8287 km² [a].
The Randstad's main cities are Almere, Amersfoort, Amsterdam, Delft, Dordrecht, Gouda, Haarlem, Leiden, Rotterdam, The Hague (Den Haag in Dutch), Utrecht, and Zoetermeer. Other centres include Alphen aan den Rijn, Amstelveen, Barendrecht, Capelle aan den IJssel, Hilversum, Hoofddorp, Hoek van Holland, Houten, Katwijk, Leidschendam, Maassluis, Nieuwegein, Oostzaan, Purmerend, Rijswijk, Schiedam, Spijkenisse, Vlaardingen, Voorburg, Zeist and Zaanstad.
Randstad is an industrial and metropolitan conurbation occupying an area of peat and clay lowlands in west-central Netherlands. Randstad consists of major Dutch industrial cities extending in a crescent (open to the south-east) from Utrecht in the east to Dordrecht in the south and to Lelystad in the north. Randstad is one of the most important economic and densely populated areas in the northwest of Europe. The regions form a ring of four large urban agglomerations (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht), as well as a number of medium-sized and smaller towns, such Almere, Delft, Leiden and Haarlem. These closely linked agglomerations are situated around the green heart of Holland; a green area, which provides the region not only healthy fresh air but also, room for agricultural activity and for rest and recreation. This combination of space for business activity, residential areas and recreation makes Randstad Region an attractive region both in which to live and to locate businesses.
Over the last few decades, a major topic in the Randstad is the conflict between the cities and the towns in between. These towns and the surrounding countryside, known as the Groene Hart (Green Heart), are usually much greener than the cities, they house many commuters that work in the cities and the former strongly depend on the latter for facilities such as hospitals and large scale entertainment. Cities need more space to expand, yet the towns fear losing their identity and autonomy.
An issue regarding the Randstad is the question of its borders. The Randstad's borders have never been officially specified. Some consider only the four biggest cities of the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht) part of it, others would say that areas such as Alkmaar (which is representing itself as being part of it), Hoorn and Lelystad are also part of this conurbation. The publication "Randstad 2040", released by the Dutch government, reveals that the Noordvleugel (North Wing, Amsterdam and Utrecht region) is already growing parallel to the A1, A2, and A4 motorways, as well as into the northern part of North Holland (Alkmaar region) and Flevoland (Lelystad region). There is also a trend shown that the Noordvleugel are expanding parallel to the A2 (Amsterdam towards Eindhoven) and A12 (Utrecht towards the WERV (Wageningen-Ede-Rhenen-Veenendaal)) motorways. This region is called the 'Zuidoostflank' (Southeastside).
The Randstad has a history of competition. For instance, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, the two main cities, compete in many ways, from football to art. Lately, the cultural sector has tried to limit this rivalry and look for mutual strength. Major cultural organisations in Amsterdam, such as the Concertgebouw and Holland Festival, have joined forces with similar organisations in Rotterdam via A'R'dam. In 2007, these organisations published a manifesto with plans for co-operation. One of the goals is to strengthen the international position of culture and art in the Netherlands in the international context.
Recently, Dutch planners have started to refer to the Randstad as Deltametropool. Deltametropolis actually consists of two large metropolitan areas:
1. The Noordvleugel (North Wing, with a population of around 3.6 million people), consisting of the Haarlem and IJmuiden conurbations in the west, Amsterdam at the centre and Almere and the Gooi area in the east. The conurbation of Utrecht (pop. around an extra 1 million) could also be considered to be part of this wing. Its cultural centre, however, is clearly Amsterdam, which could – as such – be considered a classical centralistic metropole. Amsterdam recently started to present itself as the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (Metropoolregio Amsterdam). The expectation is that the use of the Noordvleugel and the Randstad will become less as a result. This part of the Randstad is expected to grow more in population than the Zuidvleugel and the Groene Hart/Green Heart areas, with the growth of population also being in effect for a longer period of time, compared to the other two areas.
2. The Zuidvleugel (South Wing, with a population of around 3.5 million people), stretching some 60 kilometers from Dordrecht in the South East to Leiden in the North. The main conurbations are the Rotterdam and The Hague areas. The virtual centre of the Zuidvleugel lies in between these two major cities, near Delft. The first steps toward this development are currently being taken with the construction of a new fast light-rail connection between Rotterdam and The Hague: RandstadRail. A long delayed extension of the western A4-motorway from the south of Delft to Rotterdam has also been put back on the administrative agenda, creating a second connection between Rotterdam, via The Hague, to Amsterdam.
A possible new area would be the Zuidoostflank; parallel to the A2 motorway (from Amsterdam to Eindhoven) and parallel to the A12 motorway (Utrecht to WERV (Wageningen, Ede, Rhenen and Veenendaal)), as this region has much potential to strengthen the knowledge economy of the Randstad.
Knowledge and Innovation Community
The Governing Board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) met on 16 December in Budapest to designate the first three Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs).
The Randstad possesses a large infrastructure system, with many railways, motorways, trams and subways in various cities. Home to various mainports, transport is an important issue in the Randstad, with the port of Rotterdam, and Schiphol airport. There are various smaller ports and airports in the Randstad, like the ports of IJmuiden, Amsterdam and Dordrecht, as well as Rotterdam-The Hague Airport.
The Randstad has various motorways, most of them starting around Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Many international corridors start in the Randstad, including the A1, A2, A4, A7, A12, A15, A16 and A20 motorways, as well as various commuter routes.
Most motorways suffer from severe congestion, and are home to many bottlenecks, mostly outdated tunnels, viaducts and bridges. The Randstad, like much of the Netherlands, has a large number of waterways, and motorway tunnels and bridges are usually the only way to cross major bodies of water. Additionally, the canals in the Randstad are often spanned by raising bridges, including bridges carrying major roads and motorways. Problems are commonly found at the Coentunnel, Ringvaart Aqueduct, Vechtbridge, Moerdijkbridge, Heinenoordtunnel, Beneluxtunnel and Brienenoordbridge.
Traffic jams can occur at any time of the day; however rush hour lasts from 6.00 am to 10.00 am and from 3.00 pm to 7.00 pm.
Major bottlenecks can create traffic jams up to 30 kilometers in length. The Randstad network of motorways carry some of the highest traffic volumes in Europe. Most motorways used to be no wider than 2x2 or 2x3 lanes, but in recent years capacity has been expanded to six, eight or ten lanes on some parts. A 14-lane highway is projected near Utrecht. Some hard shoulders are in use as peak hour lanes – traffic is allowed to use the hard shoulder as a third or fourth lane during periods of congestion, when signs indicate. Because of the lack of sufficient minor roads, a lot of local traffic also uses the motorways.
There are a few missing links in the motorway network of the Randstad, especially on the A4 motorway, where construction has been a topic of debate since the 1960s.
Another growing issue is the number of trucks on the radiating motorways from the Randstad; truck volumes can be as high as 20,000 trucks per day, occupying the entire right lane on some motorways.
The Randstad is the keystone of the Dutch railway network; most intercity connections terminate in one of the key cities in the Randstad. The railway network in the area is dense and heavily used. Delays used to be common, but in the last few years services have improved; together with the Swiss Federal Railways (#1), and the Belgian railways (#3), the Dutch Railways is in the top 3 of Europe. Larger cities in the Randstad have many railway stations, as well as light rail, subway and/or tram networks.
Much effort is being expended in increasing the cycling rate of the Randstad. The campaign Fietsfilevrij exists to encourage cycling as an alternative to waiting in traffic jams on the motorway. Bicycle superhighways have been built on which cyclists have priority for long distance, high speed cycle commuting. For instance, one of these stretches the 50 km distance between Amsterdam and Utrecht.
- ^ Randstad is not an official statistical area. The 'land area' figure is the sum of the areas of the 4 member provinces. The Randstad is normally not considered to cover the whole of any of these provinces.
- ^ Estimates range from a conservative 6.6 million to 7.6 million (full population of the 4 member provinces). The figure of 7.1 million is used in various official publications.
- "Approximation of area on Google Maps". 2010-10-16. Retrieved 2010-10-16.
- "Randstadmonitor 2010". 2010-01-01. Retrieved 2011-07-21.
- Deutsch-Alkmaar – Gemeente Alkmaar. Alkmaar.nl (2012-11-14). Retrieved on 2013-07-16.
- Alkmaar – Who or What is Alkmaar? Find out more. Encycl.opentopia.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-16.
- http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/randstad/documenten-en-publicaties/brochures/2007/06/01/randstad-2040-startnotitie-naar-een-duurzame-en-concurrerende-europese-topregio.html | Randstad 2040, page 9 (in Dutch)
- http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/randstad/documenten-en-publicaties/brochures/2007/06/01/randstad-2040-startnotitie-naar-een-duurzame-en-concurrerende-europese-topregio.html | Randstad 2040, page 25 (in Dutch)
- "DELTAMETROPOOL". Deltametropool.nl. 2000-09-27. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- Cohen, Job (2008-01-22). "Metropool Regio Amsterdam". City of Amsterdam. Retrieved 2008-07-25.
- http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/randstad/documenten-en-publicaties/brochures/2007/06/01/randstad-2040-startnotitie-naar-een-duurzame-en-concurrerende-europese-topregio.html | Randstad 2040, page 28 (in Dutch)
- "European Institute of Innovation and Technology: Home". Eit.europa.eu. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- http://www.treinreiziger.nl/kennisnet/punctualiteit/punctualiteit_ns_internationaal_vergeleken | Treinreiziger (in Dutch)
- http://www.treinreiziger.nl/kennisnet/andere_wisselverwarming_kan_spoorchaos_voorkomen-142138 | Treinreiziger (in Dutch)