Utrecht Centraal railway station

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Utrecht Centraal
Utrecht centraal.jpg
Utrecht Centraal in 2019
LocationUtrecht, Province of Utrecht
Coordinates52°5′21″N 5°6′35″E / 52.08917°N 5.10972°E / 52.08917; 5.10972Coordinates: 52°5′21″N 5°6′35″E / 52.08917°N 5.10972°E / 52.08917; 5.10972
Owned byProRail
Operated byNederlandse Spoorwegen
Line(s)Amsterdam–Arnhem railway
Utrecht–Rotterdam railway
Utrecht–Boxtel railway
Utrecht–Kampen railway
ConnectionsMainline rail interchange U-OV, Qbuzz Tram: 22, 60, 61
Bus transport U-OV, Qbuzz: 1–8, 12, 16, 18, 24, 28, 38, 41, 47, 55, 63, 65, 73, 74, 77, 85, 94, 241, 247, 285
Bus transport Provincie Utrecht, Syntus: 50, 102, 107, 120, 195, 295
Bus transport Drechtsteden, Qbuzz: 81, 90, 387, 388
Bus transport Bravo, Arriva: 400, 401
Other information
Station codeUt
Opened18 December 1843
194.385 daily railway passengers (excluding transfers, 2018 statistics)[1]
Utrecht Centraal is located in Northeastern Randstad
Utrecht Centraal
Utrecht Centraal
Location within Northeastern Randstad

Utrecht Centraal, officially Station Utrecht Centraal (pronounced [staːˈʃɔn ˈytrɛxt sɛnˈtraːl]), is the transit hub that integrates two bicycle parkings, two bus stations, two tram stops and the central railway station for the city of Utrecht in the province of Utrecht, Netherlands.

Both the railway station and the bus station are the largest and busiest in the Netherlands. The bicycle parking station on the east side is the largest in the world.[2]

The railway station has sixteen platform tracks (of which twelve are through tracks) and 194,385 embarking and disembarking passengers per day, excluding transfers.[3] Because of its central location in the Netherlands, Utrecht Centraal is the most important railway hub of the country with more than 1000 departures per day.


Inside the station hall

The first railway station at the site was opened on December 18, 1843, when the Nederlandsche Rhijnspoorweg-Maatschappij opened the first station on Utrecht territory.

In 1938, the station became the central station as the Maliebaanstation, on the other side of the city, was closed and the line from Hilversum was diverted into the central station. The station building of 1865 remained in place, though a fundamental renovation was done in 1936. Two years later, a fire burned down most of the building, which was subsequently rebuilt.

The station building was demolished in the 1970s to make way for Hoog Catharijne, then Europe's largest enclosed shopping mall, which opened on 17 December 1973. From that moment onwards, the station no longer had a real entrance; the passageways of the shopping mall just continued into the station. In 1989 the station hall was enlarged (tripling the original size) to increase capacity and to solve bottlenecks. In 1995, the station hall was again enlarged, with the construction of a new platform.

Between 2011 and 2016, the station underwent a major reconstruction as one of the NSP[4] projects of the Dutch government and as part of a general reconstruction of the Utrecht station area.[5][6] The station hall was replaced by a new, much larger hall, housing all modes of public transport. The new structure with its curved roof, was designed by Benthem Crouwel Architekten. The roof has three curves: a large one in the middle for the railway station and two smaller ones for the bus/tram stations on either side. New sheltering roofs were built for all platforms and the station was separated from the Hoog Catharijne shopping area.[7]

A scale model of Utrecht Centraal is on display at Madurodam.[8]

Tram and bus facilities[edit]

Light-rail (sneltram) service at Utrecht Centraal began in 1983 with the opening of the SUNIJ line (sneltram Utrecht-Nieuwegein/IJsselstein).[9] Its tram stop (named Utrecht Centraal) was originally located on the east side of the station. In 2009, when the nearby Moreelsepark tram terminal was closed, the Centraal stop was adapted to be the new terminal for the shortened SUNIJ line. At this time, the Centraal stop was given a minor makeover including provision for the OV-chipkaart and travel information displays.[10]

In 2013, to accommodate construction work at the railway station, the SUNIJ line was further shortened. The Centraal stop on the east side of the station was closed and replaced by a stop at Jaarbeursplein on the west side of the railway station, becoming the temporary terminal of the SUNIJ line.[11] The temporary Jaarbeursplein terminal has 3 tracks.[12]

In July 2016, the bus terminal on the east side of the station was also relocated to the west side ('Jaarbeurszijde'). This move made space available on the east side of the station for the construction of a new Centrumzijde (literally downtown side) bus and tram terminal as well as the construction of a new tram line (Uithoflijn), a new station square (Stationsplein), a bicycle storage facility and the Moreelse bridge.[13]

On 9 December 2019, the Centrumzijde bus and tram terminal opened at Utrecht Centraal. It is located under the main hall on the east side of the railway station, and riders can access it directly from the main hall.[14] On 16 December 2019, the Uithoflijn (line 22) started operation running from Centrumzijde to P+R Science Centre in the Uithof district.[15]

On 4 July 2020, the SUNIJ line was shut down for renovation including rebuilding the Jaarbeursplein stop. The stop was converted from a terminal for high-floor trams to a through-station for longer, low-floor trams. The old platforms were demolished, and the stub siding was eliminated. New side platforms were built along the through-tracks. Electrical overhead wires and track switches were also replaced.[16]

In 2021, the Uithoflijn (line 22) will be connected with to the SUNIJ line (lines 60 to Nieuwegein-Zuid and 61 to IJsselstein-Zuid) using the existing tunnel under the railway tracks.[17]

Redesign of the track layout[edit]

Schematic view of the new track layout

As the central hub of the Dutch railway network, disruptions at Utrecht Centraal can easily affect the rest of the country's railway network. 2–3 times per year, such disruptions led to a snowball effect, resulting in a total standstill of railway traffic in a wide area around Utrecht Centraal.[18][19][20]

As part of a general effort to improve the reliability of the Dutch railway network and because of the High-Frequency programme (PHS) of the Dutch government, it was decided to remodel the track layout of the station, an investment of €270 million.[21]

Reasons for the redesign[edit]

The Ministry of Infrastructure described the reasons for the project as follows:[22]

The problem of the old layout[edit]

  • Insufficient capacity for the desired intensities of passenger and freight trains. This concerns railway infrastructure capacity as well as transfer capacity.
  • Insufficient quality of the railway service. The punctuality of the passenger service in Utrecht is structurally lower than in the rest of the country.
  • Insufficient robustness of the infrastructure. The layout is complex, vulnerable to failure and expensive due to the large number of switches and crossing movements.

The main measures[edit]

  • Limited extension of the infrastructure as far as possible within the available space: one extra platform with two tracks. Other platforms were modified based on the larger passenger numbers.
  • Better use and optimisation of the existing infrastructure: separating train traffic flows form each other, with a fixed platform allocation per corridor, less switches, higher speeds and shorter headways.

The goals[edit]

  • Increased capacity, allowing more trains and more transfers.
  • Shorter travel times. The speed for freight and passenger trains is increased from 40 km/h to 80 km/h.
  • Higher reliability
    • Less failures due to a reduction in switches, less crossing movements and a simplified traffic control.
    • In case a disruption does happen, its effect will be limited to one corridor.
    • More buffers to deal with the consequences of disruptions within the corridor.

The design: learning from Japan[edit]

The idea for the new track layout was based on the layout of Shinagawa station in Tokyo. Based on Shinagawa and other Japanese examples,[23] a new design philosophy for track layout was developed within ProRail. It contains the following hierarchy:

  1. The main traffic flows are physically separated from each other (as far as possible within the given space) and have their own dedicated tracks.
  2. The layout of these tracks is optimized for speed and headways, this is the main function of the stations.
  3. Additional switches are added for reaching the depots. In the case of Utrecht, there are three depots and each platform track has access to at least one depot.
  4. As a last step, switches are added where necessary to enable traffic management in case of disruptions. These switches have to fulfill a number of conditions:
    • The switches for disruption management cannot compromise the main function.
    • Switches are only added for a fixed number of disruption scenarios (alternative platform track, complete or partial blockage of a line).
    • For each switch, a cost benefit analysis is made (including financial and operational aspects, such as delay minutes). Only switches with a positive result are included in the final design.

The result[edit]

The new layout has around 60 switches (compared to around 200 for the old layout) and results in a doubling of capacity.

This capacity growth is due to the separating of the flows, the shorter headways and the extra platform. A part of this capacity growth is used for the implementation of the PHS High Frequency Programme, in which the basic frequency of several corridors is increased from 4 to 6 trains per hour. The station has capacity for a basic frequency of 8 trains per hour on all corridors, which makes it future proof for the foreseen growth up to 2040.[24]

Train services[edit]

International, national and local train services call at the station, most notably the Intercity-Express trains to Frankfurt and Basel, domestic Intercity services to all parts of the Netherlands, and local (Sprinter) services providing access to towns all over Utrecht province. Freight services also pass through the station, on the AmsterdamBetuwerouteRuhr corridor as well as the Antwerp – Northeast Germany corridor.

The following passenger services call at Utrecht Centraal (2020 timetable):

Tracks 1–4: Sprinter (local) services North & Northeast[edit]

  • 2x per hour Utrecht – Hilversum – Almere (4900)
  • 2x per hour Utrecht – Hilversum – Weesp – Schiphol – Hoofddorp (5700)
  • 2x per hour Utrecht – Den Dolder – Baarn (5500)
  • 2x per hour Utrecht – Den Dolder – Amersfoort – Zwolle (5600)
  • 1x per hour Utrecht – Utrecht Maliebaan (28300, Railway museum)

Tracks 5/7 and 18/19: Intercity / International services Northwest, South & East[edit]

  • 1 daily Intercity-Express service Amsterdam – Utrecht – Cologne – Frankfurt Airport – Basel
  • 6 daily Intercity-Express services Amsterdam – Utrecht – Cologne – Frankfurt Airport – Frankfurt am Main
  • 2x per hour (Schagen -) Alkmaar – Amsterdam – Utrecht – Eindhoven – Maastricht (800)
  • 2x per hour Den Helder – Amsterdam – Utrecht – Arnhem – Nijmegen (3000)
  • 2x per hour Enkhuizen – Amsterdam – Utrecht – Eindhoven – Heerlen (3900)
  • 2x per hour Schiphol – Utrecht – Nijmegen (3100)
  • 2x per hour Schiphol – Utrecht – Eindhoven – Venlo (3500)

Tracks 8–12: Intercity services Northeast & West[edit]

  • 1x per hour Rotterdam – Utrecht – Amersfoort – Zwolle – Leeuwarden (600)
  • 1x per hour Rotterdam – Utrecht – Amersfoort – Zwolle – Groningen (500)
  • 1x per hour The Hague – Utrecht – Amersfoort – Hengelo – Enschede (1700)
  • 1x per hour The Hague – Utrecht – Amersfoort – Amersfoort Schothorst (11700)
  • 2x per hour The Hague – Utrecht – Amersfoort (- Deventer, peak hours only) (2000)
  • 2x per hour Leiden – Alphen aan den Rijn – Utrecht (8800)

Tracks 14/15: Sprinter (local) services Northwest & East[edit]

  • 2x per hour Breukelen – Utrecht – Veenendaal Centrum (7300, peak hours only)
  • 2x per hour Uitgeest – Amsterdam – Breukelen – Utrecht – Veenendaal Centrum – Rhenen (7400)
  • 1x per hour Night Intercity (Nachtnet) Rotterdam – The Hague – Amsterdam – Utrecht (1400)

Tracks 20/21: Sprinter (local) services West & South[edit]

  • 2x per hour The Hague – Gouda – Woerden – Utrecht – Geldermalsen – Tiel (6900)
  • 2x per hour Woerden – Utrecht – Geldermalsen – 's-Hertogenbosch (6000)
  • 2x per hour Utrecht – Houten Castellum (6500, peak direction only)
  • 2x per hour Intercity Rotterdam – Utrecht (2800)


The train services are scheduled in such a way, that there is a basic frequency of an Intercity and a Sprinter every 15 minutes in every direction from Utrecht Centraal. The Intercity trains on the route Amsterdam – Utrecht – Eindhoven run every 10 minutes.

Some services run only during the peak hour, but on most lines the basic frequency is offered all day. On Sunday mornings and late evenings some services do not run, but even during those times, there is always an Intercity and a Sprinter at least every 30 minutes in every direction.

Bus services[edit]

Utrecht Centraal has two bus stations. One on the east side of the railway station (Busstation Centrumzijde) and the other on the west side (Busstation Jaarbeurszijde). The majority of the bus services in and around the city is operated by Qbuzz under the U-OV brand. Syntus Utrecht (Keolis) and Arriva operate some of the regional bus services.

Busstation Centrumzijde[edit]

  • 2 Centraal Station – City Centre – Museumkwartier – Centraal Station (circular, one direction)
  • 3 Centraal Station – Overvecht – Zuilen – Centraal Station (circular, both directions)
  • 16 Leidsche Rijn – Lombok – Centraal Station – Vredenburg
  • 18 De Meern Oost > Langerak > Centraal Station > Rijnsweerd (peak hour only)
  • 28 Vleuten – Vleuterweide – De Meern – Centraal Station – Wittevrouwen – Rijnsweerd – Science Park (U-Link)

Busstation Jaarbeurszijde[edit]

  • 1 Hoograven – Rivierenwijk – Centraal Station – Overvecht Noord
  • 4 Voordorp – Tuindorp – Centraal Station – Langerak – Terwijde
  • 5 Centraal Station – Oog in Al – Terwijde – Maarssen
  • 6 Galgenwaard – Sterrenwijk – Centraal Station – Overvecht Zuid
  • 7 Zuilen – Ondiep – Centraal Station – Kanaleneiland Zuid
  • 8 Lunetten – Tolsteeg – Centraal Station – Wilhelminapark
  • 12 Centraal Station – Zuilen – Maarssen
  • 18 Rijnsweerd > Centraal Station > Langerak > De Meern Oost (peak hour only)
  • 24 Centraal Station – Papendorp – Oudenrijn (peak hour only)
  • 38 Centraal Station – Lage Weide – Maarssen
  • 41 Utrecht Centraal – Bunnik – Wijk bij Duurstede (U-Link)
  • 47 Utrecht Centraal – Hoograven – Houten
  • 50 Utrecht Centraal – ZeistDoornVeenendaal / Wageningen (U-Link)
  • 55 Utrecht Centraal – Tuindorp-Oost – Maartensdijk
  • 63 Utrecht Centraal – Vianen
  • 65 Utrecht Centraal – Plettenburg – Vianen
  • 73 Zeist-Centrum – Utrecht Centraal – Leidsche Rijn – Maarssen (U-Link)
  • 74 Driebergen-ZeistZeist West – Utrecht Centraal – Jutphaas – Vianen
  • 77 Nieuwegein-Centrum – Galecop – Utrecht Centraal -De BiltBilthoven Station (U-Link)
  • 81 Utrecht Centraal – Meerkerk
  • 85 Utrecht Centraal – SchoonrewoerdLeerdam
  • 90 Utrecht Centraal – Papendorp – Gelkenes Industrieterrein
  • 94 Utrecht Centraal – Papendorp – Ameide
  • 102 Utrecht Centraal – Woerden
  • 107 Utrecht Centraal – Gouda
  • 120 Utrecht Centraal – BreukelenAmsterdam Bijlmer ArenA
  • 195 Utrecht Centraal – Rotterdam Capelsebrug (peak hour only)
  • 241 Utrecht Centraal – Wijk bij Duurstede (via A12, peak hour only)
  • 247 Utrecht Centraal – Kanaleneiland – Houten (peak hour only)
  • 285 Utrecht Centraal – Papendorp – Leerdam (peak hour only)
  • 295 Utrecht Centraal – Rotterdam Capelsebrug
  • 387 Utrecht Centraal – Gorinchem
  • 388 Utrecht Centraal – Sliedrecht – Rotterdam Kralingse Zoom
  • 400 Utrecht Centraal – Vianen – Sleeuwijk Tol – RaamsdonksveerOosterhout (Brabantliner)
  • 401 Utrecht Centraal – Vianen – Sleeuwijk Tol – Hank – Breda (Brabantliner)

International bus services (Flixbus, Ecolines) call at a separate bus stop near the station.

Tram services[edit]

Utrecht Centraal has two light rail (sneltram) terminals. The Jaarbeursplein terminal lies on the west side of the station, and handles trams on the SUNIJ line (sneltram Utrecht-Nieuwegein/IJsselstein – lines 60 and 61). The Centrumzijde terminal (literally "downtown side") lies on the east side of the station, and handles trams on the Uithoflijn (line 22) to the Uithof district.[15]

  • Line 22: Utrecht Centraal Centrumzijde – P+R Science Park (Uithof) (no weekend or holiday service)
  • Line 60: Utrecht Centraal Jaarbeursplein – P+R Westraven – Nieuwegein Stadscentrum – Nieuwegein-Zuid
  • Line 61: Utrecht Centraal Jaarbeursplein – P+R Westraven – Nieuwegein Stadscentrum – IJsselstein-Zuid


On both sides of the station, there is a large three-floor bicycle parking station. The parking on the east side is the world's largest bicycle parking station. It opened fully on the 19th of August 2019 at the cost of an estimated €48 million and holds 12,500 bicycles.[25]


  1. ^ "Grootste, kleinste en snelst groeiende stations 2018". Grootste, kleinste en snelst groeiende stations 2018.
  2. ^ "Finally fully open: Utrecht's huge bicycle parking garage". BICYCLE DUTCH. 19 August 2019. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  3. ^ "Aantal in- en uitstappers per station bij NS 2013–2018". Treinreiziger.nl. 4 July 2019.
  4. ^ "Nieuwe SleutelProjecten – Definitie op Infrasite.nl". www.infrasite.nl. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  5. ^ "Utrecht Central – Public transport terminal – CU2030". www.cu2030.nl. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  6. ^ "Reasons to build". CU2030. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  7. ^ "Public transport terminal". CU2030. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  8. ^ "Spot all the trains". Madurodam. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  9. ^ "Utrecht Trams Holland". The Aylesbury News. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  10. ^ "Sneltramhalte Utrecht Centraal begin december nieuwe begin-/eindhalte". Stationsgebied Utrecht – CU2030 (in Dutch). 6 November 2009. Archived from the original on 30 May 2012.
  11. ^ "Nieuwe eindhalte tram op Jaarbeursplein geopend". Stationsgebied Utrecht – CU2030 (in Dutch). 23 April 2013. Archived from the original on 28 April 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  12. ^ "Graafwerk bij tramhalte Jaarbeursplein Utrecht" (in Dutch). Regiotram Utrecht. 6 February 2020. Archived from the original on 3 March 2020. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  13. ^ "Verhuizing buslijnen Utrecht Centraal per 2 juli". Province of Utrecht (in Dutch). 1 July 2016. Archived from the original on 12 April 2018. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  14. ^ "Nieuw busstation Utrecht Centraal Centrumzijde open". RTV Utrecht (in Dutch). 9 December 2019. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  15. ^ a b "Utrecht (system map)". Urban Rail. 2019. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  16. ^ "Haltebouw Jaarbeursplein Fast Forward" (in Dutch). RegioTram Utrecht. 18 September 2020. Archived from the original on 15 November 2020. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  17. ^ "Veelgestelde vragen". Uithoflijn (in Dutch). City of Utrecht. Archived from the original on 20 January 2020. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  18. ^ "Treinverkeer Utrecht uren stil door storing". nos.nl.
  19. ^ "Utrecht Centraal plat door winterweer". Treinreiziger.nl.
  20. ^ "Treinverkeer Randstad ontregeld door storingen". Treinreiziger.nl. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  21. ^ "270-miljoen-euro-om-spaghetti-van-sporen-utrecht-cs-te-ontwarren". ad.nl.
  22. ^ Waterstaat, Ministerie van Infrastructuur en (23 May 2013). "Doorstroomstation Utrecht – Rapport – Rijksoverheid.nl". www.rijksoverheid.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  23. ^ "Japan op Nederlands spoor: eenvoud loont" (PDF). micheljansen.org.
  24. ^ "NMCA: tegen 2040 loopt het ov vast | OV-Magazine". www.ovmagazine.nl. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  25. ^ See: Utrecht to build world's biggest bike park – for 12,500 bikes, DutchNews.nl, Sunday 27 April 2014. Accessed on 28 April 2014.

External links[edit]

Media related to Utrecht Central station at Wikimedia Commons