Transport in the Netherlands
|Life in the Netherlands|
The Netherlands is both a very densely populated and a highly developed country, in which transport is a key factor of the economy. Correspondingly it has a very dense and modern infrastructure, facilitating transport with road, rail, air and water networks. In its Global Competitiveness Report for 2014-2015, the World Economic Forum ranked the Dutch transport infrastructure fourth in the world.
With a total road network of 139,000 km, including 3,530 km of expressways, the Netherlands has one of the densest road networks in the world; much denser than Germany and France, but still not as dense as Belgium. The Dutch also have a well developed railway network, that connects most major towns and cities, as well as a comprehensive dedicated cycling infrastructure, featuring some 35,000 km of track physically segregated from motorised traffic.
The port of Rotterdam is the world's largest seaport outside East Asia, and by far the largest port of Europe. It connects with its hinterland in Germany, Switzerland and France through rivers Rhine and Meuse. Two thirds of all inland water freight shipping within the E.U., and 40% of containers, pass through the Netherlands.
Mobility in the Netherlands is considerable. On the roads it has grown continuously since the 1950s and now exceeds 200 billion km travelled per year, three quarters of which are done by car. Around half of all trips in the Netherlands are made by car, 25% by bicycle, 20% walking, and 5% by public transport. Additionally, Dutch airports handled at least 70 million passengers in 2016. Excluding air travel, the Dutch journey more than 30 km a day on average, which takes them just over an hour.
In 2010, 1.65 billion tons of goods traffic was registered, half of which moved by sea and inland shipping, and 40% by road transport. The remainder was mostly by pipelines; rail transport only handles 2% of freight movements through the Netherlands.
With 139,000 km of public roads, the Netherlands has one of the most dense road networks in the world - much denser than Germany and France, but still not as dense as Belgium.[nb 1] In 2013, 5,191 km were national roads, 7,778 km were provincial roads, and 125,230 km were municipality and other roads.
Dutch roads include 3,530 km of motorways and expressways, and with a motorway density of 64 kilometres per 1,000 km², the country also has one of the densest motorway networks in the world.
The Netherlands' main highway network (hoofdwegennet) - comparable to Britain's network of trunk roads - consists of most of its 5,200 km of national roads, supplemented with the most prominent provincial roads. Although only about 2,500 km are fully constructed to motorway standards, much of the remainder are also expressways for fast motor vehicles only.
Mobility on Dutch roads has grown continuously since the 1950s and now exceeds 200 billion km travelled per year, three quarters of which are done by car, meaning that while Dutch roads are numerous, they are also used with one of the highest intensities of any road network. Car ownership in the Netherlands is high but not exceptional, and slightly lower than in surrounding countries. Goods vehicles account for 20% of total traffic.
The busiest Dutch motorway is the A13 between The Hague and Rotterdam, with a traffic volume of 140,000 motor vehicles per day. The widest Dutch motorway is the A15/A16 just south of Rotterdam with 16 lanes in a 4+4+4+4 setup.
Cycling is a ubiquitous mode of transport in the Netherlands. 27% of all trips are by bicycle - the highest modal share of any country in the world. Moreover: 36% of the Dutch list the bike as their most frequent mode of transport on a typical day.[nb 2] Some 85% of the people own at least one bicycle. All in all the Dutch are estimated to have at least 18 million bikes, which makes more than one per capita, and twice as many as the ca. 9 million motor vehicles on the road. Almost as many passenger kilometres are covered by bicycle as by train.
Cycling infrastructure is comprehensive, and public policy, urban planning & laws are bike-friendly. Most roads except for motorways support cyclists, and bikeways are clearly signposted, well maintained and well lit. Dedicated cycle tracks are common on busy roads - some 35,000 km of track has been physically segregated from motor traffic, equal to a quarter of the country's entire road network. Busy junctions often give priority to cyclists, or they are equipped with cycle-specific traffic lights. There are large bicycle parking facilities, particularly in city centres and at train stations. In 2013, the European Cyclists' Federation ranked the Netherlands, together with Denmark as the most bike-friendly country in Europe. Helmets are neither officially encouraged nor frequently worn.
Most distance travelled on Dutch public transport is by rail. Like many other European countries, the Netherlands has a dense railway network, totalling 6,830 kilometres of track, or 3,013 route km, three quarters of which has been electrified. The network is mostly focused on passenger transport and connects virtually all major towns and cities, counting as many train stations as there are municipalities in the Netherlands. The national rail infrastructure is managed by public task company ProRail, and a number of different operators have concessions to run their trains.
In 2015 a consultancy comparison of Europe's railway systems found the Dutch network the most cost effective for its performance, together with Finland's.
Public passenger rail transport is operated mainly by Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) (Dutch Railways); minor parts by Arriva, Syntus, Connexxion, Breng, DB Regio, NMBS, Veolia and DB Regionalbahn Westfalen. During week days almost all railway stations are serviced at least twice an hour in each direction. [nb 3], Large parts of the network are serviced by two to four trains per hour on average. Heavily used tracks are serviced up to 8 trains an hour. Per kilometre of track, the Dutch rail network is the busiest in the European Union, handling over a million passengers a day.
In recent years, the four largest railway stations in the Netherlands, the central stations of each of the largest cities: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, have all entered into major reconstruction and expansion. Rotterdam Central station was completely rebuilt, and was the first to complete, reopening in March 2014. The Hague Central station and Utrecht Central station were reopened, after extensive reconstructions, in February and December 2016, respectively. Amsterdam Central station has been undergoing a string of reconstruction works that started in 1997, and is yet to complete.
For longer distances the main public transport in the Netherlands is the train. Long-distance buses are limited to a few missing railway connections. Regional / rural public transport, serving small(er) towns is by bus. Local / urban public transport is also generally by bus, but the three biggest cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague) all have extensive tram systems, that in each case also connect with adjacent cities in their respective urban agglomerations.[nb 4] Amsterdam and Rotterdam have several metro lines as well.
Additionally, Rotterdam, The Hague and suburbs in between are connected by a light rail system called RandstadRail, and one line of the Rotterdam metro system connects all the way to The Hague Central station. Utrecht has its own light rail system, called fast tram, connecting the city with adjacent Nieuwegein and IJsselstein. Arnhem is the only Dutch town that still operates a trolleybus system.
Due to the large amount of waterways in the Netherlands, not every road connection has been bridged, and there are still some ferries in operation. In the Rotterdam region, a water bus public transport service is operating as well.
Public transport operators are both the public transport companies run by the big cities: GVB (Amsterdam), RET (Rotterdam) and HTM (The Hague), as well as private enterprise companies like Arriva, Connexxion, Qbuzz, Syntus and Veolia.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, located 9 km (5.6 mi) southwest of Amsterdam, is the main international airport in the Netherlands, and the third busiest airport in Europe in terms of passengers. Schiphol is the primary hub for Dutch flag carrier airline KLM and its regional affiliate KLM Cityhopper, as well as for other Dutch airlines Corendon Dutch Airlines, Martinair, Transavia and TUI Airlines Netherlands.[nb 5] The airport also serves as a European hub for Delta Air Lines and Jet Airways, and as a base for EasyJet and Vueling airlines.
According to Schiphol's preliminary data, the airport handled 63.6 million passengers in 2016, a growth of 9.1 % over 2015. Opened in 1916 as a military airbase, Schiphol saw 479,000 flights in 2016, and airfreight tonnage increased by 1.8% to 1.7 million metric tons.
In other regions there are much smaller international airports, the most prominent being Eindhoven Airport, Rotterdam The Hague Airport, Maastricht Aachen Airport and Groningen Airport. The airports of Eindhoven and Rotterdam / The Hague are both part of the Schiphol Group, and both experienced growth in 2016. Eindhoven Airport grew by 9.3 % to 4.7 million passengers, whereas Rotterdam The Hague Airport's growth was a modest 0.2 %, reaching 1.6 million travellers in 2016.
On Maastricht Aachen, and Groningen airports, a considerable share of flights is seasonal in nature. For transport within the country, air travel is hardly used.
Based on Schiphol Group's preliminary data, its airports alone handled a total of 70 million passengers in 2016.[nb 6]
In 2015 Dutch airports handled passengers at a ratio of 47 million on European flights versus 18 million on intercontinental flights, and in 2013 a slightly less 1.6 million metric tons of airfreight.
Ports and Harbours
The Netherlands has thirteen seaports, three of which have international significance. Handling 440 million metric tons of cargo in 2013, the port of Rotterdam is the biggest port of Europe – as big as the next three biggest combined, and the eighth largest in the world. The Amsterdam seaport is the second in the country, and the fifth largest in Europe. Additionally, since 1998 the ports of Flushing and Terneuzen are working as one, under the name of Zeeland Seaports. Handling 34 million metric tons of cargo in 2012, this is now the third biggest Dutch seaport. For comparison: the nearby port of London handled 44 million tons in that year.
Through the rivers Rhine and Meuse, Rotterdam has excellent access to its hinterland upstream, reaching to Germany, France and Switzerland. The port's main activities are petrochemical industries and general cargo handling and transshipment. The harbour functions as an important transit point for bulk materials and between the European continent and overseas. From Rotterdam goods are transported by ship, river barge, train or road. In 2007, the Betuweroute, a new fast freight railway from Rotterdam to Germany, was completed.
Three Dutch ports are deepwater ports, that can handle fully laden Panamax ships: Rotterdam, Zeeland Seaports and the port of IJmuiden. Besides Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Zeeland, the ports of Moerdijk and Vlaardingen also support container liner shipping. Other notable port cities are Dordrecht, Haarlem and Den Helder, as well as Groningen, which controls the seaports of Delfzijl and Eemshaven. Den Helder is home to the Netherlands' main naval base.
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- total: 563 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 4,035,899 GRT/4,576,841 tonnes deadweight (DWT)
- ships by type: bulk 3, cargo 343, chemical tanker 41, combination bulk 2, container 56, liquified gas 20, livestock carrier 1, multi-functional large load carrier 8, passenger 8, petroleum tanker 25, refrigerated cargo 32, roll-on/roll-off 16, short-sea passenger 3, specialized tanker 5 (1999 est.)
note: many Dutch-owned ships are also operating under the registry of Netherlands Antilles (1998 est.)
Inland waters & shipping
6,237 km of rivers and canals are navigable for ships of 50 tons. Some 3,740 km of this consists of canals. At least 4,326 km of waterways are usable by craft up to 400 metric ton capacity, and over 3,000 km are usable by ships up to 1,250 metric ton capacity. Although another source states that all of 6,230 km is navigable for craft up to 400 tons, and over 4,000 km is usable by ships up to 1,500 metric ton capacity.
The Dutch inland shipping fleet is the biggest in Europe. Consisting of some 7,000 vessels, it takes a share of 35% of the national total annual freight transport, and as much as 80% of bulk transport. Also two thirds of all inland water freight transports within the E.U., and 40% of the E.U.'s inland container shipping, pass through the Netherlands. All in all the Netherlands has so many waterways that virtually all major industrial areas and population centres can be reached by water via inland ports (200) and transhipment terminals (350).
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Crude oil 418 km; petroleum products 965 km; natural gas 10,230 km
Transport in the Netherlands falls under the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment.
Although transport economics is much more than just the economy of the transport sector itself, the latter is much easier to quantify. In 2012 the Dutch goods transport and storage sectors by themselves accounted for almost 400,000 full-time jobs, employing some 500,000 people. Gross revenues totalled 77 billion euro, leading to results of 4.3 billion euro.
- Transport in Europe
- Transport in the Netherlands Antilles
- Rail transport in the Netherlands
- Road transport in the Netherlands
- Canals in the Netherlands
- Cycling in the Netherlands
- List of rivers of the Netherlands
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- Bureau Voorlichting Binnenvaart - Inland Navigation Promotion
- Japan has the same per country road density, but the Netherlands' area includes 18.4% inland water, compared to 0.8% for Japan.
- Up from 31% naming the bike their main mode of transport for daily activities in 2011.
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- There were many more town tram systems in the past, but most shut down before or just after WW II.
- formerly Arkefly and shortened to Arke in the corporate design to match the travel agency)
- Twenty percent more than in 2013, when all Dutch airports combined handled 58 million passengers.
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The A13 in the province of Zuid-Holland is the busiest motorway in the Netherlands.
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- nl:Haven van Zeeland
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