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ICE and Snow – part 3 or stuck in the train going home, still doing 300km/h, Sunday Dec. 20th 2009

The trip back from Holland to Frankfurt, Sunday, December 20th 2009 ….

We woke up very early. Not only was it so cold there was ice at the inside of the windows, also it had not stopped snowing. After a nice breakfast I felt the urge to leave one hour earlier than my booked train would depart, so we headed off towards the station.

I insisted that we grabbed the car which had the best grip on the road, which means the smallest tires, and was easiest to clean… So we ended up with the minicamper .. with a big bullbar XD

On our way to the station, less than 2 km in total, we were surprised by some very surprising views…. which one will not see very often again in The Hague

First of all this poor ol’ Mercedes, that had hit a post while coming from the Utrechtse Baan, turning towards The Hague Centre and was deserted after that. Never seen that before. No people, no police, nothing. Deserted. I wouldn’t stay on the streets either though with this weather..

The most stunning view was from the entrance of the Utrechtse Baan. On this Sunday, December 20th it was completely deserted, but still the warning lights showed “50km/h max” which means problems ahead.

The Trainstation of The Hague, Den Haag Centraal Station, was barely visible through the snowshowers we had to plough our way through.

I quickly ran inside, and could jump on the train which left over half an hour before my booked train would leave. I still had that strange feeling I had to do that …

Not much later I rolled out of The Hague Central Station and left the hughe Frankfurt-lookalike towers behind ..

At Zoetermeer there was not much more visible from the Mandelabrug and the area then a grey white blob of snow.

The train was to my surprise still empty, it was slowly filled by people going to “surprise visit” Hoog Catherijnen at Utrecht, or not even that far

Shortly before Station Gouda hell broke loose, and we almost got stuck in a hughe snowstorm.

At station Gouda many people got out of the train again (not to fly cheap though, Airport Schiphol was closed by this time as well), to return to their hometowns.
Shortly before Utrecht we stopped, but as seemed later, only due to delay from the other trains, and the trains that got stuck on the rails..

So, yes, it is “only” 10:34 and my train is leaving at 10:59, still it shows an amazingly clean departure for most of the trains, entering and leaving Utrecht Central Station on this day, a black day for the dutch “Nederlandse Spoorwegen”, the NS

Not much later the nicely decorated main hall in Utrecht Central Station started to crowd up, and many more people were trying to find their connections. By now a lot of trains were delayed, a few of them even cancelled already.

The rails where we had to expect our ICE was already blocked by another train which was damaged by the weather and could not drive anymore. It was picked up by another loc to be transported to repair.

The hope that our ICE would come in on time got smaller and smaller when the snowstorm slowly entered Utrecht Central Station. The ICE only had to come from Amsterdam, but who knows what delay it had gotten over there.

Sometimes a train entered the station, but it was either completely empty, or did not go any further due to the weather conditions on this day, December 20th 2009..

The snowstorm took over the station more and more. People waiting for the ICE towards Germany came back into the safe bits of the station in Utrecht, to hide from the nasty wind

As I sneaked into one of the far distant “windfree” places, I had a nice view of Utrecht Centraal Station and the snowstorm that was having a go at the trains and the station.

At the other side, trains that entered the station seemed to have so much problems, that I doubt they would ever leave the station again. Although this is the “back end” of the train, it now had to be reversed and the driver had to go in this loc to go back to where it came from. Not much chance I guess

In the far distance, people were trying to melt the trainrails, so the trains could enter the station. Impressive job though, with loads of hughe trains driving by, while standing on the rails.

Well, 11:17 and still no sign of the ICE (two white plates at the left side of the bulletin board). A lot of trains delayed or even cancelled. And wherever this man was aiming at, it did not help.

At the perron it was heaving with people by now, some of them waiting to get into the delayed ICE, some of them coming out of the train that did not go any further, and some of them .. just lost

But then … the smooth and squeeking sound of a train coming in, and from the looks of it, our shiny ICE was there to pick us up :) I just can’t say how much excited we all were, some of us to get out of the cold hallway, but for me, to get back home, somehow, in time, hopefully, in this beautiful train.
With over an hour delay… it was all of a sudden there. From the warm and cosy inside of the ICE I had a much better place to sit down and get warm again.

Unfortunately, we still had a lot of delay, and a lot of smokers could just not stop smoking. The people I had to share my table with were all smokers. They used every opportunity that the train stopped to smoke. Worse, they came from Amsterdam, so they had their supplies of “stuff”. Even worse, every unexpected stop the ICE had to make, they ran out towards the doors to smoke. And even more worse, the smoke came back into the cabin, so everyone complained about it. At least I suffered from a 2,5 week “cold” due to my smoke-allergy, hashies or not..

At the trainstation Arnhem, the driver announced that they strongly suggested people that wanted to go to the Weihnachtsmarkt in Düsseldorf to get out of the train and return to their home. Apperantly the weather conditions had gone so bad that they expected to be underway all day. Well, not for me. I only wanted to go home, no matter what it took.

Just over the border in Germany I happened to see a horse coming out of the tunnel we just went over. Not sure if it just paniced from the train, it however tried to canter away out of the tunnel, with his halter and rope following him, scaring him even more. I’m glad I made one of my horses bombproof, even with things like trains and trucks. She will have to teach her 1,5y young Jr. to not be afraid of “these things” as well, and I trust her she will do so! :) Nothing more annoying to lose a horse in these weather conditions .. nothing to eat, slippery road, who knows where they will end up. Hopefuly all went fine though.

Then all of a sudden the driver announced via the speakers that the train would not go further than Emmerich. All passengers were summoned to gather their luggage, prepare to leave this train and enter the ICE which was standing at the Bahnhof Emmerich in front of this ICE. So everyone got up and packed all their stuff, ready to run out and jump into the next train.

To our surpise we passed by the train that was the one that we had to get into, and the driver announced that we could put our stuff back and get back to our seats. Apperantly the train we were in continued to go to Frankfurt.

A bit later we went by Oberhausen, after that Düsseldorf, where another ICE was stuck.

A couple that was fully packed to go on a 2 week vacation to Thailand, Bangkok, I had to disappoint. They would fly from Airport Düsseldorf. Unfortunately, Airport Düsseldorf was completely closed due to the weather, runways all closed and planes to be defrosted before they could depart

And while waiting at Düsseldorf another snowstorm decided to fly by, making the view very difficult.

Last station Köln, after which it was a “one way” back to Frankfurt Airport,

And yes, we got to the 292 KM/H on our way back, despite the snowstorm :D

The environment still seemed to be very quiet, not that much snow though

but the never ending blue lights on the Autobahn told me different. It must have been horrible out there.

The over 60 minutes delay was more than clear, now trying to find the train that could get me back home..

Bye bye to the snake faced ICE at Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof.

And although it read that the time of arrival was 14:38, it was already past 15:58, making me miss my next train.. which was a pity. I had to wait over an hour to catch the next one. This one broke down..

Having completely missed my connection, I had to queue up for the information desk, to get the necessary stamps, being allowed to take any other train to get back home. Typical german burocracy…

Even earlier than expected I could enter the RegionalBahn train, and warm up a bit again.

Not much later we departed – on time even! – leaving the hughe Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof behind us, sliding through white landscapes….

And then the next problem. Would he still start? :)
Ofcourse! :) Helped by the guards I could quickly reveal my Audi and get out of my free parking space for the weekend. Getting on the roads was fun, it was very, very slippery in the continuous snowstorms. But, I got home in time to call my Jr. Just before 18:15 I covered my Audi with his windscreen/snow cover, saving some time in the morning where I had to start working at 4:45 local again …
Many more people had it worse and never arrived at their final destination on the same day…

Later I found out that the feeling I had to leave earlier from The Hague was right. It was the last train that went that day on a normal schedule to Utrecht. If I had missed that train, I had missed the ICE, and I would have arrived much later… maybe even not even on the same day..


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