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Lightrail train Alphen aan den rijn 2003.jpg
Light rail train
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Minimum radius (?)
Line from Leiden
0 Alphen a/d Rijn
Line to Utrecht via Woerden
6 Boskoop
9 Waddinxveen Noord
10 Waddinxveen
A12 Motorway
A20 Motorway
Line from Den Haag
Line from Rotterdam
18 Gouda
Line to Utrecht
Station showing high and low level platforms, viewed through cab of train
Light rail train at the swingbridge across the Gouwe river

The RijnGouweLijn (English: The Rhine-Gouwe Line), or RGL, is a proposed light rail project in South Holland, Netherlands, that uses some new tracks and some existing tracks from the Gouda–Alphen aan den Rijn railway and the Woerden–Leiden railway. However, the new section may use bus rapid transit (BRT) instead.

From 2003 to 2009 light rail vehicles have operated on the Gouda–Alphen aan den Rijn railway, sharing these tracks with regular NS stock. As of 2013, only NS stock is used on the railway.

Original plan[edit]

It will be the first system in the Netherlands where light rail vehicles will share heavy rail tracks with heavy rail trains, similar to the tram-train systems around Karlsruhe and Saarbrücken, Germany.

This shared track is from Gouda through Alphen aan den Rijn to Leiden. The existing heavy rail track will be adapted and seven additional stops will be added.

For Leiden, the plan was to have new track through the centre (Breestraat) at street level (alternatives that have been proposed were around the centre on existing track, or in a tunnel through the centre). The province of South Holland is in favour of this, but based on a referendum in March 2007 among the Leiden population, the municipality is against it. The province has threatened to force the municipality to accept a trajectory through Leiden. Following that, the municipality agreed to accept the RGL through the city. The province and municipality have now agreed that this will be the route through Hooigracht and Langegracht.

The proposed line passes through Leiden Centraal railway station and then uses the new tracks to Katwijk with a branch to Noordwijk.

The light-rail vehicles used are of the Flexity Swift model, produced by Bombardier Transportation in Vienna. The LRVs were originally meant for SL (lines 12 & 22) in Stockholm, Sweden (hence the usage of the designation A32).

They are used in the regular railway service between Gouda and Alphen aan den Rijn in the beginning. The stations have been adapted: new low level platforms have been added, either as extensions to existing high level platforms or by building them on the opposite side of the track of the high level platforms.

From 2003 to 2009 there was test traffic with light rail vehicles on the heavy rail track from Gouda to Alphen aan den Rijn. The RGL is divided into two subprojects: RGL-East (Gouda - Leiden Transferium 't Schouw A44) and RGL-West (Leiden Transferium' t Schouw A44 - Katwijk / Noordwijk). The completion of both sections is planned for late 2015. Completion is dependent on financial support from the national government. The decision came about in the autumn of 2009. State Secretary of Transport Tineke Huizinga indicated that the line to Katwijk will cost € 45,000,000. The line to Noordwijk will be served by buses in the meantime.


Long before there was light rail, some of the tracks had tram traffic. In the 1960s, Leiden had the Blue and Yellow Tram lines.

In the 1960s, 70's and 80's there were often put forward plans for the tram to return to the previous sections of the Blue and Yellow Tram. The first ideas for the RGL were presented in the early 90s by Leeuwenburgh Baldwin, the former district chief of NZH. The tram system was initially intended to be a much larger set light rail network, with branches to Leiderdorp, the district Ridderfeld in Alphen and Schiphol. There are also suggestions of linking the RGL to Randstadrail, for example by establishing the trajectory of Leiden - Zoetermeer and/or Leiden - Leidschendam-Voorburg via Voorschoten. None of the ideas have been implemented yet.

People soon began to oppose the RGL. Tram traffic was seen as a hazard for cyclists and pedestrians. There was also criticism of the high construction cost of the project. In the 90s it was budgeted for 450 million guilders, but by 2007 the amount had risen to 470 million euros. There were fears of cuts in city and regional bus networks. Furthermore, there was doubt about the effectiveness of the RGL. The critics were in favor of extending the rail line from Leiden to Utrecht, and investment in dedicated bus lanes on the route from Leiden to Katwijk and Noordwijk.


In the 90s it was projected that approximately 78,000 passengers a day would use the RGL (total number for the system Gouda - Katwijk / Noordwijk). Despite the negative impact on the bus network in favor of the RGL it was expected that the accessibility of the Leiden center would be greatly improved. A track through the center of Leiden would mean that the travel time for people who have a destination outside Leiden would be significantly extended, and this course has repercussions for passengers forecast. These estimates were repeatedly reduced. The most recent forecasts a ridership of 50,000 passengers — 42,000 more than in the busiest tram line in Amsterdam (number 5). On the route Leiden - Katwijk / Noordwijk the number of passengers would only be slightly higher than on the current bus network.

Eastern section (Gouda - Alphen aan den Rijn - Leiden)[edit]

The section between Gouda and Leiden, was originally scheduled to be inaugurated in 2005. This was later postponed to 2007. The current schedule is that the eastern section will open in 2015, simultaneously with western section. From 2003 to 2009 light rail vehicles were being used on the existing railway between Gouda and Alphen aan den Rijn. The future RGL will then continue to Leiden Lammenschans railway station. In the period 2012-2014, the whole section will be upgraded to double track.

Through Leiden[edit]

The original plan was that the RGL should continue from Leiden Lammenschans railway station as a city tram to Leiden Central Station. This process is controversial, especially regarding safety, cost and impact on cyclists and the bus network. Especially controversial was a single track section through the Breestraat. Therefore, in addition to the original plan several alternative plans were developed. In one of those alternatives the RGL would follow the existing route of the railway line all the way to Leiden Centraal, or to a point near the station. The railway would be doubled, and perhaps be moved to a concrete overpass above the current track.

These alternative plans were shown to be three to four times more expensive than the originally proposed route through the city centre. On March 7, 2007 a referendum was held in Leiden, on the arrival of the RGL to Leiden (a specific route is not mentioned in the referendum question). 69% of the Leiden inhabitants voted 'no' to the proposal. Accordingly, the town rejected the RGL, but the province threatened to impose the tram line anyway. This led a majority of the politicians in Leiden to accept, in 2008, an alternative route of the RGL, through Hooigracht/Langegracht.

Whereas the tram in the initial proposal would go through Steenstraat/3e Binnenvestgracht Stationsweg to the station, it will now go through the Lammermarkt and Schuttersveld.

According to the latest urban vision, the tram will cross the railway in the Rijnsbruger Tunnel instead of the Joop Walenkamp tunnel. The bicycle lane and taxi stop will have to be removed.

After Leiden Centraal Station, the line will pass the Leiden University Medical Center and the Bio Science Park, reaching Transferium 't Schouw.

Western section (Leiden - Katwijk / Noordwijk)[edit]

From Transferium 't Schouw A44, the RGL will go as light rail to Katwijk aan den Rijn, after which the path forks into one branch to Katwijk aan Zee, and one to Noordwijk. In 2005, an agreement was signed between all municipalities except the municipality of Leiden to distribute the costs of the project. The national government covers a large part of the construction costs, as well as the province. The distribution of possible cost overruns in the cost of various government contracts. The county bears all risks for the operation of the line. The western branch of the RGL is also important for the opening of the new building located on the former Valkenburg Naval Air Base.

In Katwijk and Noordwijk there was much opposition to the tram plans, both among the general population and in the town councils. Neither community wanted tram traffic in the town centres. For Noordwijk it will end at the European Space Research and Technology Centre on the border with Katwijk. The municipalities presented an alternative alignment of the RGL. The RGL Noordwijk-Binnen would run to Voorhout station and the NS station Sassenheim. In Katwijk there was oppostition against the branch to Katwijk aan Zee. In both communities the tram line will be imposed by the provincial government, as had happened earlier Leiden. In the autumn of 2009 the national government provided 45 million euros for the line to Katwijk, but not to Noordwijk. There is a gap of 55 million euros, for which a solution must be found.

In June 2009, the preferred route by the Provincial Council of South Holland was approved. Both Katwijk and Noordwijk get a tram to the coast. However, the province address the concerns of Katwijk to the line not to ride on the Boulevard but to finish in the Badstraat.

Test traffic with light rail vehicles[edit]

In March 2003 test traffic was started between Gouda and Alphen aan den Rijn with light rail equipment on existing railroad tracks. Since then, the NS traffic on this route was largely performed by RGL vehicles. These are the type of Bombardier A32, a model that is also used on the Tvärbanan light rail in Stockholm. The grey and blue trams were fitted with yellow stickers to look somewhat similar to the color of the "sprinter" train from NS. On December 13, 2009, the trial ended with the equipment and "sprinter" train took over the line. The A32 trams were sold to Stockholm.

Lower platforms[edit]

In North Waddinxveen the existing platform was extended with a low wooden platform. At Boskoop the island platform has been considerably extended and this is the only concrete platform apart from the platform at Gouda. In Alphen aan den Rijn the new 4LR wooden platform constructed along the old freight track. There is a fence between the two separate tracks, to improve the safety of the driver as the door of the cab opens directly to the trackside located at Alphen aan den Rijn, not on the platform side.

Because trains are wider than the A32 trams, extra warning stripes have been placed along the platforms to warn passengers of the height/width difference in alighting and boarding.

The operation was mainly characterised by many in the early signal interference caused by malfunctioning axle counters and / or ATP-NG-train security. Soon the RGL got a bad reputation because of the failure of a large part of the schedule. The number of passengers per day, around 5000, during the period 2003-2009 is also stable, despite a large increase in many other rail routes in the Randstad. The six light rail vehicles purchased for the test eventually proved inadequate, also because of the large amount of problems they face.

End of test[edit]

In August 2009 it was announced that the proposed precursor of the RGL on the route Gouda - Alphen as of December 13, 2009 would disappear because with only Sprinter the train timetables could be improved. More direct train service between Gouda and Leiden Centraal was introduced, decreasing the travel time by 8 minutes.


With the route through the Hooigracht / Langegracht in Leiden decided (2008), and the decision of the provincial government on the western route, the future of the RGL is now a little clearer, but that does not mean that all obstacles have been overcome. The municipality of Noordwijk refuses to cooperate and several parties in the city council of Leiden remain fiercely opposed to the RGL (including D66 and SP, never strong supporters of the RGL).

End of the RGL[edit]

On Wednesday January 30, 2013, the provincial government chose to stop this version of the RGL project. Instead, there will be more trains, stations and busses.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Official website (April 14, 2012) (Dutch, with summary in English). Because the official website has been removed, this link refers to the last available version on the Internet Archive.