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Rotterdam Metro

Rotterdam Metro
Logo metro rotterdam.jpg
Locale Rotterdam
Transit type Rapid transit and light rail
Number of lines 5
Number of stations 62
Daily ridership 300.000 (2012)[1]
Began operation 1968
Operator(s) RET
System length 78.3 km (48.7 mi)

The Rotterdam Metro is a rapid transit system operated in Rotterdam and surrounding municipalities by RET. The first line, called Noord - Zuidlijn (North - South line) opened in 1968 and ran from Centraal Station to Zuidplein, crossing the river Nieuwe Maas in a tunnel. It was the first metro system to open in the Netherlands. At the time it was also one of the shortest metro lines in the world with a length of only 5.9 kilometers (3.7 mi).

In 1982 a second line was opened, the so-called Oost - Westlijn (East - West line), running between Capelsebrug and Coolhaven stations. In the late 1990s, the lines were named after two historic Rotterdam citizens, the Erasmus Line (North - South) after Desiderius Erasmus and the Caland Line (East - West) after Pieter Caland. As of December 2009, these names were dropped again in favour of a combination of letters and colours, to emphasize and clarify the difference between the separate branches, especially of the former East - West line.


Map of Rotterdam Metro
Rotterdam Metro sign at Delfshaven.
Line Southern / western terminus Northern / eastern terminus
Line A Schiedam Centrum Binnenhof
Line B Schiedam Centrum Nesselande
Line C De Akkers De Terp
Line D De Akkers Rotterdam Centraal
Line E Slinge Den Haag Centraal

Lines A and B

In the northeast of Rotterdam, Lines A and B branch to Binnenhof (Line A) and to Nesselande (Line B). The latter has been extended since September 2005; before that date, this line terminated at De Tochten.

North of Capelsebrug station, with the exception of the De Tochten-Nesselande section, lines A and B have some level crossings (with priority), and could therefore be called light rail instead of metro. These sections also have overhead wires, while most of the system has a third rail (the other exception is line E (RandstadRail) to The Hague). However, the term 'light rail' is not used in Rotterdam; most people just call these branches 'metro'.

Line C

At Capelsebrug, line C branches off the main East-West section to De Terp in Capelle aan den IJssel. Until November 2002, the Calandlijn (now lines A, B and C) terminated in the west of Rotterdam, at Marconiplein. On 4 November 2002 an extension through the city of Schiedam towards Spijkenisse was opened. The extension included four new stations in Schiedam (including Schiedam Centrum railway station) and one in Pernis. Line C joins Line D at the new Tussenwater station in Hoogvliet. Line A and B trains still terminate at Schiedam Centrum, while Line C trains continue and, like those on the Line D, terminate at De Akkers station in Spijkenisse.

Line D

Line D runs from Rotterdam Centraal via Beurs, Slinge, Rhoon, Tussenwater, and Spijkenisse Centrum towards De Akkers.

Line D intersects with Lines A-B-C at Beurs station, the only underground interchange between metrolines in the Netherlands. Before the connection with Line E at Rotterdam Centraal was realized in December 2011, some Line D trains terminated at Slinge.

Line E

When the Hofplein Line was converted from a railway line to a rapid transit line in 2006, the old Hofplein station was temporarily kept as the line's southern terminus. On 17 August 2010 however a new tunnel opened, which connected the metro station at Rotterdam Centraal via a new tunnel and new Blijdorp station with the existing tracks near Melanchthonweg station.

For the next year, work was in progress to connect Line D to Line E at Rotterdam Centraal station. Since the completion of this project in December 2011, all trains coming from The Hague terminate at Slinge (these are line E trains), while line D continues in service between De Akkers and Rotterdam Centraal.

Rolling stock

Train 5121, built by Düwag, at De Akkers. This train is retired.
MG2/1-metro series 5300, built by Bombardier.
A series 5400 train, built by Bombardier, on the lightrail section at De Tochten station.
The new train for RandstadRail, built by Bombardier (5501).
Series Built Vehicle numbers Manufacturer In service Traction power supply Vehicle length Cabs
5000 1966-1967
Werkspoor No Third rail only 29 m (95 ft) 2
5100 1974–1975 5101-5126
Düwag No Third rail only 29 m (95 ft) 2
5200 1980–1984 (5201-5271) 5201+5229 destroyed in a fire 31.10.2006 Düwag Yes Third rail
Overhead wire
29.8 m (98 ft) 2
5300 1998–2001 5301-5363 Bombardier Yes Third rail only 30.5 m (100 ft) 1
5400 2001–2002 5401-5418 Bombardier Yes Third rail
Overhead wire
30.5 m (100 ft) 1
5500 2007–2009 5501-5522 Bombardier Yes Third rail
Overhead wire
42 m (138 ft) 2
5600 2009–2011 5601-5642 Bombardier Yes Third rail
Overhead wire
42 m (138 ft) 2

The new series 5500 trains, made between 2007 and 2009, were built for the new RandstadRail line E. The 5601-5642 trains were built to replace older Düwag stock (series 5200).

Future extensions

From 2017, the metro network will be extended westward to Hoek van Holland, as RET will take over the rail line from NS. The new line will connect to the existing network at Schiedam Centrum. The project will include the construction of a new station at Maassluis.

As part of the "Stadionpark" project, a new line between Zuidplein and Kralingse Zoom is planned. This line will bypass the existing transfer at Beurs and will provide better public transport connections for residential areas on the South bank of Rotterdam.

Traction power

Trains run on 750 volts DC power which is supplied through a bottom-contact third rail throughout most of the system. There are multiple spring-loaded contact shoes on both sides of the vehicle, which are loaded and unloaded automatically due to the slanted edges of third rail ends. This allows the rail to be installed on either side of the track, a necessity around points and station platforms. There is sufficient overlap between the two rails on either end to avoid a "gapped" train, a situation where none of the shoes are in contact with the live rail. To reduce the risk of electrocution, the rail consists of a sturdy yellow insulating material, with the live current carried on a thick metal strip on the bottom side. This also guards against grime (such as from fallen autumn leaves) reducing or preventing electrical contact.

Three lines do however use overhead wires. After passing Capelsebrug station, trains bound for Binnenhof (Line A) or Nesselande (Line B) raise their pantograph while the vehicle is in motion. They will now pass (with priority) several protected level crossings at street level. For this reason, trains with a pantograph (series 5200 and 5400) are equipped with turn signals just like any road vehicle. This makes it easy to see the difference between series 5300 and series 5400 Bombardier-built trains. Note that Line B trains, bound for Nesselande, will run on third rail again for the final leg of the journey, from the penultimate station De Tochten to Nesselande. The other line with overhead wires is line E. Trains bound for The Hague raise their pantograph while halting at the Melanchtonweg station, while trains heading the otherway lower it there, this leads to the only level crossing with third rail in the country being at the Kleiweg just outside the tunnel heading to Blijdorp station.

Further reading